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Malcolm R. Wilkey

Malcolm R. Wilkey

Malcolm R. Wilkey (1959-1961)

Early History: Malcolm Richard Wilkey was born in 1918 in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, and grew up in Madisonville, Kentucky. He obtained a scholarship to Harvard University, where he earned both his bachelor and law degrees. Between degrees, Mr. Wilkey served in the U.S. Army in World War II. He fought in the Battle of the Bulge and served on the staff of General George Patton. Mr. Wilkey retired from the Army Reserve as a Lieutenant Colonel.

Mr. Wilkey began his legal career in Texas in 1948 in private practice. In 1954, he was appointed U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Texas, handling high-profile cases involving police corruption and heroin smuggling. In 1958, Mr. Wilkey became the Assistant Attorney General for the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of the Legal Counsel. While serving in that position, Mr. Wilkey was dispatched by President Dwight D. Eisenhower to Little Rock, Arkansas, to try to compel the city’s public schools to comply with a federal desegregation order.

Tenure: In 1959, Mr. Wilkey became the Assistant Attorney General of the Criminal Division. Under his leadership, the Division supported efforts to transition Alaska from territorial courts to a state court system. Mr. Wilkey also represented the United States at the 1959 United Nations Conference on Judicial Remedies Against Abuse of Administrative Authority.

Later Career: In 1961, Mr. Wilkey returned to private practice. In 1970, President Richard Nixon appointed him to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. Mr. Wilkey served on the federal bench for 15 years.

In 1985, Mr. Wilkey was appointed U.S. Ambassador to Uruguay. He served as the senior U.S. diplomat in Uruguay for five years as the country emerged from a long military dictatorship. In 1992, Mr. Wilkey was appointed by Attorney General William Barr to investigate possible check-writing abuses by lawmakers. His investigation resulted in the conviction of four members of the U.S. House of Representatives and the House Sergeant-at-Arms. Mr. Wilkey died in 2009 in Santiago, Chile.

This material is based on the review of a variety of historical sources and its accuracy cannot be guaranteed. If you have any corrections or additional information about this individual or about the history of the Criminal Division, please contact the Division.

Updated February 4, 2016