Warren Olney, III

Warren Olney, III

Warren Olney, III (1953-1957)

Early History: Warren Olney, III was born in 1904 in Oakland, California. He earned his undergraduate and law degrees from the University of California. He began his legal career as a deputy district attorney in Contra Costa County. After a brief time in private practice, he became a deputy district attorney in Alameda County, where he met then-District Attorney Earl Warren. In 1939, Mr. Olney became the Assistant Attorney General in California in charge of the Criminal Division under then-California Attorney General Warren.

In 1942, Mr. Olney was commissioned in the U.S. Marine Corps. He served in the Pacific during World War II and then returned to private practice in San Francisco. While in private practice, Mr. Olney also served as Chief Counsel to the Special Crime Study Commission on Organized Crime in California under then-Governor Warren.

Tenure: In 1953, President Dwight D. Eisenhower appointed Mr. Olney as Assistant Attorney General of the U.S. Department of Justice, Criminal Division. In that role, Mr. Olney oversaw the successful prosecution of several members of Congress. He also emphasized the enforcement of civil rights laws, strongly advocating for the creation of a separate Civil Rights Division within the Department of Justice. The Civil Rights Division was established in 1957 during Mr. Olney’s final year as Assistant Attorney General.

Later Career: In 1958, Mr. Olney was appointed Director of the Administrative Office of the Courts by then-Chief Justice Warren. Chief Justice Warren Burger later credited him for leading the institution “in its modern period of expansion.” Mr. Olney also served as Executive Officer of the Judicial Conference of the United States. Mr. Olney died in 1978 in Berkeley, California.

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

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