Richard C. Stoddard, Sr. - Democrat - Silver Party, Elected

14th Nevada Attorney General

Term:  January 7, 1907 - January 2, 1911


Richard Cross Stoddard, born on September 3, 1876, in Reno, Nevada, received his education at the public schools of Reno and Nevada State University (now University of Nevada, Reno).[1]

After studying law at the office of Louis Lamy in San Luis Obispo, California, Stoddard gained admittance to the Nevada State Bar and the California State Bar in 1903.  He practiced law for a short period in San Luis Obispo, and then moved to Reno, where he served as Reno City Attorney from 1905 to 1906.  For a short period in 1906, Stoddard formed a partnership with Dennis M. Duffy under the firm name Stoddard & Duffy.  Stoddard resigned as Reno City Attorney upon being elected as Nevada Attorney General. 

After serving his term as Attorney General, Stoddard became a member of the law firm of Stoddard, Moore & Woodburn in Reno until July 1913.  Elected as a Washoe County District Judge (for Nevada’s Second Judicial District), he served from January 4, 1915, until his voluntary resignation on March 3, 1918.[2]

Stoddard then entered the U.S. Army’s Judge Advocate General’s Corps, where, as a Major, he earned national attention when he led a U.S. Army investigation into 45 U.S. Army soldiers who refused to wear U.S. Army-issued uniforms.  The investigation led to a military court martial of all 45 soldiers in June 10, 1918, for their insubordination.  All 45 soldiers, members of the Mennonite faith, claimed to be conscientious objectors.  Although they all were convicted and originally sentenced to life imprisonment, a later review reduced their sentences to 25-years’ imprisonment at the military prison in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.

The Survey[3] referenced Major Stoddard’s report:


The board designated by the War Department to hold personal interviews with conscientious objectors at the various training camps has begun to report upon its progress.  Maj. Richard C. Stoddard, Judge Julian W. Mack, of Chicago, and Dean Harlan F. Stone, of Columbia University Law School, are its members.  A statement authorized by the War Department says that “the board has been able in many instances to clear up misunderstandings which caused men to refuse to perform military service."  The statement continues:

A typical case is that of Camp Gordon, Atlanta, Ga.  At this camp an unusually large number of men are segregated as objectors.  Seventy-two of the number have been persuaded to accept noncombatant service under the provisions of the President's executive order.  Twelve men withdrew their objections or it was found by the board that they had misunderstood the original questions and should not have been classed as conscientious objectors. 

Fifty-four men failed to convince the board of their inability to take up military service without violation of their consciences.  They must, therefore, accept any such service specified for them by the commanding officer or face court-martial.  Twenty-three members of religious denominations opposed to any form of military service who were regarded as sincere in their convictions, were recommended for furloughs at a private’s pay.  In four cases the board expressed itself in doubt and recommended that the men be sent to Fort Leavenworth for further examination and report.

Of twelve others, eight claimed to be citizens of enemy countries, but had no way of substantiating their claims and it was held they should not be so classed.  The remaining four were in the hospital and were not examined by the board.

The Survey, Vol. XL, April, 1919–September, 1918, Survey Associates, Inc., Cornell University Library, The Survey for July 6, 1918, p. 404.

Election of 1906

Elected as Nevada’s 14th Attorney General on November 6, 1906, Stoddard (Democrat-Silver) received 6,917 votes of the 14,235 cast; G. Springmeyer (Republican) received 6,112 votes; and Emil Lorke (Socialist) received 1,206 votes.

Office Administration and Duties

In 1907, Mr. Stoddard’s staff consisted of one stenographer, Ms. Margret Sweeney, and one Deputy Attorney General, James R. Judge[4]4, whose position was added a year later.  Judge previously had served as Nevada’s 10th Attorney General (December 21, 1896–January 2, 1899).  In 1909, Stoddard’s staff consisted of a new stenographer, Ms. Robert Richards, and a Deputy Attorney General, Mr. Leonard B. Fowler.

According to the Nevada Attorney General’s budgets for the 1907–1909 and 1909–1911 state biennial fiscal periods, consisted of:


1907–1909 Budget





$  4,000

Attorney General’s Salary




$  5,000

For salary of the Attorney General as ex officio Mineral Land Commissioner




$  2,300

Stenographer’s Salary





For current expenses for telegraph, postal, and contingent expenses for the State officers, Supreme Court, and State Library, and for transportation of State property, $5,000



The 1908 Special Session of the Nevada State Legislature also authorized $2,500 for travel expenses for the Governor and Attorney General. 



1909–1911 Budget




$  4,000

Attorney General’s Salary[5]



$  4,800

Deputy Attorney General’s Salary



$  2,400

Stenographer’s Salary



$     800

Office Furniture



$  5,000

For salary of the Attorney General as ex officio Mineral Land Commissioner, $5,000




For current expenses for telegraph, postal, and contingent expenses for the State officers, Supreme Court, and State Library, and for transportation of State property, $8,000


The 1907 Nevada State Legislature added additional duties to the office of the Attorney General:

  • The Nevada Attorney General was to be ex-officio Mineral Land Commissioner (Statutes of Nevada 1907, Chapter XX, pp. 39-40).

  • The 1908 Special Session of the Nevada State Legislature added certain powers to the Nevada Attorney General.  (1908 Special Session–Statutes of Nevada, Chapter XV, p. 31).

  • Allow the Nevada Attorney General or Deputy Attorneys General to appear before Grand Juries.

  • Have supervisory powers over the several District Attorneys.

  • May take charge of any criminal prosecution.

  • Issue subpoenas for witnesses.

  • Appoint Deputy Attorneys General.

The 1909 Session of the Nevada State Legislature added these additional duties:

  • Reviewing the title and other documents related to the purchase of the Agricultural Experiential Dry Farm in Northeastern Nevada.  (Statutes of Nevada 1909, Chapter LII, Page 60).

  • Reviewing certain mining corporations’ responsibility to file annual statements--Nevada Attorney General is to review these statements for compliance with state law.  (Statutes of Nevada 1909 Chapter LVII, Pages 62-69).

  • Prosecuting “Unscrupulous Mining Promoters.”  (Statutes of Nevada 1909, Chapter LVII, Page 66).

  • Filing suit on behalf of the Nevada Bank Commission and Bank Examiner to stop a bank from doing business in Nevada, if that bank was found in violation of Nevada State Banking statutes by the Banking Commission and Bank Examiner.  (Statutes of Nevada 1909, Chapter CIV, pp. 112-113).


Regretfully and with sadness, Stoddard later developed mental health issues and took his own life.  From the Nevada State Journal, July 21, 1925:


Napa, Cal. July 20 -- Richard C. Stoddard, 48, at one time attorney general of Nevada, leaped to his death from the fifth floor of a sanatorium at Saint Helena, north of here yesterday.  It was revealed tonight at a coroner's inquest.  The act was witnessed by a nurse, who grappled with Stoddard but was thrust aside.  Stoddard was born in Reno and the body was returned to that city tonight.

From the Reno Evening Gazette, Monday, July 20, 1925:


Death came suddenly yesterday morning at St. Helena, California, to Richard C. Stoddard, former district judge in Washoe County, former State Attorney General, and holder of several offices of public trust during his lifetime. Ill for several months, Judge Stoddard went to a sanatorium about two weeks ago in the hope that personal care there would aid him to recovery, but his condition was so weakened that he could not assimilate even the special diet ordered for him.

His wife, Mrs. Marguerite Gosse Stoddard, was with him at the sanatorium and will return to Reno tomorrow morning with his remains, funeral services to take place here, probably Wednesday.  Judge Stoddard was a member of the Reno Lodge of Elks and his probable services will be conducted by that order.

Richard Cross Stoddard was born in Reno, attending the public schools and state university here. He was in his forty-ninth year. After completing his schooling he spent two years in the post office service, later railroading for four years. He was admitted to the bar in 1903, first with the firm of Graves and Graves in San Luis Obispo, California, soon returning to Reno and engaging in practice.  In 1905, after the city charter had been adopted, he was elected city attorney, and in 1906, he was elected State Attorney General, and in this office he successfully defended an attack on the act creating the state public service commission.

Sometime later he was elected district judge, but before his term expired
he resigned to enter military service, being named judge advocate, with the rank of major.  On his return from France he was appointed Nevada's first federal prohibition director, but left this office after only a short term.

Two years ago, Judge Stoddard married for a second time, to Miss Marguerite Gosse, who survives him.  He is also survived by a son, Richard Jr., his mother and father, Mr. and Mrs. Charles Stoddard of Santa Cruz, California, three brothers, Roy, Lytton and Carl Stoddard, and a sister, Mrs. Lola Collins of Portland, Oregon.  For many years his father was assessor, auditor and recorder of Washoe County.

The American Legion will act as a guard of honor at Judge Stoddard's funeral.  The District Court of Washoe County adjourned this morning out of respect for the late Judge Stoddard, a motion to adjourn being made by Judge George A Bartlett, in the court of Judge Thomas F. Moran, in which Judge Stoddard formerly presided.

[1]It is interesting to note that Nevada Attorneys General Richard C. Stoddard, Alan Bible, Harvey Dickerson, Charles Springer, Richard Bryan, Frankie Sue Del Papa, Brian Sandoval, and Catherine Cortez-Masto all are alumni of the University of Nevada, Reno, Nevada.
[2]Nevada Administrative Office of the Courts, Nevada Judicial History Database,, accessed 20 July, 2015.
[3] The Survey, Vol. XL, April, 1919–September, 1918, Survey Associates, Inc., Cornell University Library, The Survey for July 6, 1918, p. 404.
[4] Mr. Judge is noted as being Nevada’s first Deputy Attorney General
[5] Although it is not stated, it is presumed that the Attorney General received a fixed salary of $4,000 versus the $4,800 of the Deputy Attorney General because the Attorney General also received an additional $5,000 per year compensation as Nevada’s ex officio Mineral Lands Commissioner (for a total state salary of $9,000 per year).

    • Richard C. Stoddard, Sr. - Nevada Historical Society