A Missouri Congressman who played a key role in the Watergate investigation…and who issued a landmark public school opinion later as a judge has died.

William Hungate was a plain-spoken lawyer from Troy who represented northeast Missouri for 12 years. As a member of the House Judiciary Committee he was the main author of one of the three impeachment articles filed against President Nixon.  And when President Ford Pardoned Nixon, Hungate headed the committee to investigate the pardon.

It remains the only time that has happened.  Although Ford was personal friends with most committee members as a former Congressman, Hungate asked for the committee to set that aside in an effort to find the truth "by cooperation if possible, by confrontation if necessary."

He praised Ford for his commitment to be "open and candid" with the American people.  "It is absolutely vital for the restoration of the public’s trust in their governing institutions and elected officials that frankness be the hallmark of this and future administrations," he said.

Later as a federal district judge he ruled the state of Missouri "never took effective steps" to dismantle segregation in the St. Louis Schools. He called state officials "primary constitutional wrongdoers who have abdicated their remedial duty," and he criticized state officials for trying to "pass the buck among themselves." 

Hungate later approved the voluntary desegregation plan for St. Louis city and county schools. 

He retired in 19-92. 

He had recently undergone surgery for a blood clot in the brain. Hungate was 84. 



Download Hungate’s remarks at start of Subcommittee meeting (4:11 mp3)