About Us

Our History

Thirteen friends of Charles Owen Johnson joined him for a breakfast meeting at the Army and Navy Club on Farragut Square in Washington, DC, on April 14, 1994, and organized the group informally known as “Bench and Bar.” All but one timely qualified and became “Founder Members” of the organization.

Bylaws were adopted and, with an approved extension, a number of people who had indicated their interest before the end of 1995 and had their genealogy approved before the second Annual Meeting in 1996 were admitted as “Charter Members.” All other members are admitted as “Regular Members”.

Founder Members have no membership number. On their membership certificates and on the official records of the Society, they are simply described as “Founder Members”. The Founder Members are those who attended the Organizational Meeting on Thursday, 14 April 1994, in the Army and Navy Club on Farragut Square and, who subsequently – but prior to the First Annual Meeting held on 17 April 1995, proved their descent from a judge or lawyer as defined in Article III, Section 1 of the By-Laws.

The Founding Members

Mr. Robert Carter Arnold
Mr. Roger Alden Derby
Mr. Peter Arrott Dixon
Mr. Neal Holland Duncan
Mr. Charles Owen Johnson
Mrs. Richard C. McGehee
Mr. John Randolph Marshall

Mr. Robert Russell Marshall
Miss Helen Marie Martell
Colonel Donald R. Perkins
Mr. Grahame T. Smallwood, Jr.
Mrs. William A. Smith
Mr. David Allen von Nirschl


The Annual Meeting of Bench and Bar is held in Washington, DC, in April. The first Annual Meeting was held at the Dacor-Bacon home where Chief Justice John Marshall and the entire United States Supreme Court lived in the 1830’s. Our distinguished speaker was the Chief Justice of the United States Court of Federal Claims. The Second Annual Meeting was at the Washington Club on Dupont Circle. The Executive Director of the United States Supreme Court Historical Society was the guest speaker. Subsequent meetings continued to be held at the Washington Club on Dupont Circle. The location of the 2005 annual meeting was moved to the Army and Navy Club on Farragut Square where it has remained from that time.