Carl M. Gray


Honorary Degree (1981)
Doctor of Laws
Location: Bloomington
Presenter: John William Ryan
Distinguished Alumni Service Award (1976)
LL.B-B., 1961; LL.D., 1981
Maurer School of Law Academy of Law Alumni Fellows (1976)
Indiana University Bloomington


Over sixty years ago, Carl M. Gray opened a law practice in the small Pike County town of Petersburg. Since that November day in 1920, Carl Gray has practiced law continuously and he remains today as active as many lawyers half his age or younger. His influence has extended far beyond the confines of his native southwestern Indiana.

Carl Gray was born in September 3, 1895, in Portersville, Dubois County. His early ambition to attend Purdue University and become an electrical engineer was supplanted when during his high school years a murder trial was venued to Pike County. His cousin, Richard M. Milburn, (who was later to become Indiana Attorney General) was one of the defense lawyers in the case. The young Carl Gray received permission from his father, a farmer and local civic leader, and the school superintendent to attend the trial. Inspired by the experience to be a lawyer, Carl Gray went on to enroll at Indiana University but dropped out after one semester. Enlisting in the Army Medical Corps, he served to the end of World War I. During a furlough from the Army in 1917, he was admitted to the practice of law but nonetheless returned to Indiana University after Army service to continue his law studies. He earned his way through school by working at jobs such as waiting tables in fraternity and boarding houses. Fifteen months later and with only eight hours of requirements to complete, Carl Gray again left Indiana University, this time to begin the practice of law in partnership with W. E. Cox, the former congressman. Some forty years later, in 1961, Carl Gray was finally awarded the missing eight credits and his LL.B. degree from Indiana University.

Carl Gray's most significant contributions have been to the practice of law in Indiana. His career since 1920 has been as varied in that respect as his career as a law student. As a public official he has both served the law and helped write it. He was Pike County prosecuting attorney from 1923-25, a state senator from 1927-31, and a member of the first Indiana State Police Board. While serving in the Indiana Senate, he wrote the law establishing a state-wide property tax levy and a bonding authority for the construction of academic facilities at state universities. While serving on the State Police Board, he helped establish that agency as a professional law enforcement organization. As a practicing attorney, Carl Gray has appeared in legal cases in over half the county courthouses in Indiana. He possesses, according to the judgement of his peers in the legal profession, a remarkably resourceful and versatile legal mind. When arguing before a jury, he belongs to a grand theatrical tradition, as capable of quiet courtesy as of impassioned anger. Never afraid of innovation, he was, for example, the first Indiana lawyer to present motion pictures as evidence, in a case which became a part of casebooks on evidence. His remarkable ability to extemporize never belied the meticulous care which went into the preparation of a case.

Carl Gray's legal accomplishments extend into other areas of professional responsibility. He served on the Indiana Judicial Reform Commission (1966-76) and he helped draft a new judicial article for the Indiana Constitution, one which was ratified in 1970. During the same period, he also served on the Civil Code Study Commission which wrote rules of civil procedure also adopted in 1970. A member of various bar associations, Carl Gray served as president of the Indiana State Bar Association in 1944-45 and as Chairman of its House of Delegates in 1963-66. He also contributed to the Indiana Law journal. Despite his many legal responsibilities, Carl Gray has found time to champion the cause of higher education in Indiana. He has served on various college and university boards and foundations, including the IU Board of Trustees (1966-75). He has also assisted Vincennes University and Oakland City College.

In 1927 Carl Gray married Eulala M. Myers, who was also a native of southwestern Indiana. Eulala Gray died in March 1978.

The accomplishments of Carl Gray have been recognized and honored, particularly by his own profession, but also by his state and his alma mater. In 1966 the Indiana Bar Association presented him its Distinguished Service Award and proclaimed a "Carl Gray Day"; he is the only lawyer to have been so honored. In 1973, the Indiana University School of Law at Indianapolis honored him with its Distinguished Practitioner Award, and in 1978 he received from the American Bar Association the Fifty-Year Award, an honor which cites his "fine legal mind and skill." Carl Gray has twice received the Sagamore of the Wabash Award and his services to higher education in the state of Indiana have been recognized by an award from the IU Foundation (1965), a Distinguished Alumni Service Award from the IU Alumni Association (1976), and a Citation of Distinguished Service from Vincennes University (1978).

In 1978, the Trustees of Indiana University honored Carl Gray in a very special manner when they established the Carl M. Gray Chair of Advocacy as a named professorship at the Indiana University School of Law at Indianapolis and the Carl M. Gray Advocacy Program at the Indiana University School of Law at Bloomington.