Arthur Fuller Odlin (1921-1925)

Arthur Fuller Odlin  (1921-1925)Arthur Fuller Odlin was born on April 25, 1860 in Concord, New Hampshire, the son of Woodbridge Odlin and Abby Pratt. He attended Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire and Amherst College in Amherst, Massachusetts. He obtained his law degree from Boston University in 1885.

On October 5, 1886 he married Mary Emma Allen of Lancaster, New Hampshire; they had two children, Lawrence Allen and Evelyn.

Judge Odlin practiced law in Massachusetts, Ohio and Florida. In 1898, while practicing law in Orlando, Florida, Judge Odlin decided to come to Puerto Rico to practice law with his former partner, Noah Brooks Kent Pettingill. He made a special study of the Spanish language and jurisprudence for the purpose of enabling him to follow his chosen profession on the Island which had became American territory as one of the results of the war with Spain. Mr. Pettingill and Mr. Odlin did not get to practice law in Puerto Rico. Mr. Pettingill was appointed Law Judge of the Provisional United States Court, and Judge Odlin was named Acting Attorney General of the Territorial Government of Puerto Rico. The Puerto Rico Judicial Advisory Board, of which the Attorney General was a member, had been created on April 30, 1900 by General Orders No. 102 to replace the office of Secretary of Justice of the Spanish regime in Puerto Rico, which was abolished. Judge Odlin served as Acting Attorney General until 1901.

During its first meeting on May 10, 1900, the Board suggested that the Revised Statutes of the United States as they applied to Puerto Rico be translated into Spanish for the benefit of the people.

In 1901, Judge Odlin was appointed a Judge of the Court of First Instance of the Philippine Islands, in Manila. He also presided in several of the provinces of the Philippines. In 1904, he resigned to practice law in Manila. He was known for his lectures on the needs of the Filipino people, and became a close observer of the general conditions which existed in the Orient at the time.

He returned to the United States in 1906 and returned to the private practice of law. In 1921, President Warren G. Harding appointed Judge Odlin to be the eighth United States District Judge in Puerto Rico, succeeding Judge Peter J. Hamilton, who had retired after eight years on the federal bench.

Judge Odlin was involved in perhaps the first case involving police corruption in Puerto Rico. The Police Chief, Colonel George L. Shanton, and members of what was then called the secret police (now known as detectives) acquired knowledge about a Grand Jury investigation into flagrant violations of the Volstead Act (prohibition) by members of the police department, police detectives and government officials. Witnesses subpoenaed by the Grand Jury were kept under constant surveillance by the secret police, even as the witnesses entered the federal building to testify. Those who were subpoenaed by the Grand Jury and had knowledge of the investigation did not testify with the openness required. Additionally, no records existed for much of the liquor seized by police officers, and the amount of liquor seized was not mentioned in other records. As the trial date approached, Colonel Shanton was asked to bring the evidence to court. Instead of bringing the evidence, Colonel Shanton wrote to Judge Odlin asking to be excused from doing so - because he had disposed of the evidence! Judge Odlin held Colonel Shanton in contempt of court, had him arrested and kept the Chief of Police locked up at La Princesa Jail for two days. It was, of course, quite a scandal having the Chief of Police in jail!

The evidence at trial demonstrated that each and every receipt for every shipment of seized liquor had Colonel Shanton's signature on it. Based on this evidence, Judge Odlin asked the Governor to fire Colonel Shanton immediately, which he did. Before Judge Odlin had departed La Fortaleza, Colonel Shanton had cleaned out his desk (his office was also at La Fortaleza) and left.

Judge Odlin left office in 1925 and died on June 5, 1926 in Jacksonville, Florida after an extended illness.