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Joseph LeCompte Davis, Class of 1884

Joseph LeCompte Davis, for most of his life a Los Angeles lawyer, was born in Mercer County, Kentucky, in 1864. He received his B.A. degree from Centre in 1884 and a B.L. from Centre's law school in 1887. After being admitted to the Kentucky bar in 1887, he moved west and for the rest of his career practised law in Los Angeles. Early in his career, from 1893 to 1895, he was assistant district attorney of Los Angeles County. In his most famous case, he assisted Clarence Darrow in the defense of John and James McNamara, accused of the bombing of the Los Angeles Times building in 1910. He also assisted in the defense of Darrow in 1912 when Darrow was accused of bribery in the McNamara case. In 1919 Davis defended Harry New, the illegitimate son of Senator Harry S. New of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

A noted bibliophile, Davis' amassed a collection of over 15,000 books. After his death in 1958, the trustees of his estate elected to donate the collection to the Centre College library. Many titles became the core of the library's rare book collection.