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William Steele Sessions

William S. Sessions

William S. Sessions
Director
November 2, 1987 - July 19, 1993

William Steele Sessions was born May 27, 1930 in Fort Smith, Arkansas. He graduated from Northeast High School in Kansas City, Missouri in 1948, and in 1951 he enlisted in the United States Air Force, receiving his wings and commission in October 1952. Thereafter, he served on active duty until October 1955. In 1956 he was awarded a Bachelor of Arts degree from Baylor University, Waco, Texas, and in 1958 he received his LL.B. degree from the Baylor University School of Law.

Judge Sessions was a private practitioner of law in Waco, Texas from 1958 until 1969, when he left his firm, Haley, Fulbright, Winniford, Sessions, and Bice, to join the Department of Justice in Washington, D.C., as chief of the Government Operations Section, Criminal Division. In 1971, he was appointed United States Attorney for the Western District of Texas. In 1974, Judge Sessions was appointed United States District Judge for the Western District of Texas and in 1980 became Chief Judge of that court. He has served on the Board of the Federal Judicial Center in Washington, DC, and on committees of both the State Bar of Texas and the Judicial Conference of the United States.

On November 1, 1987, Judge Sessions resigned his position as United States District Judge to become Director of the FBI and was sworn in on November 2, 1987.

Judge Sessions is a member of the American Bar Association and has served as an officer or on the Board of Directors of the Federal Bar Association of San Antonio, the American Judicature Society, the San Antonio Bar Association, the Waco-McLennan County Bar Association, and the District Judges’ Association of the Fifth Circuit. Judge Sessions was appointed by the President as a Commissioner of the Martin Luther King, Jr., Federal Holiday Commission, and, in November 1991 was elected for a 3-year term as a delegate for the Americas to the Executive Committee of ICPO-Interpol.

Judge Sessions has received many awards and honors, including: honorary degrees from the John C. Marshall Law School; St. Mary’s University; Dickinson School of Law; and Flagler College. He also received the Baylor University Distinguished Alumni Award; the Baylor Law School’s “Lawyer of the Year” for 1988; “Father of the Year” for public service by the National Father’s Day Committee; the Golden Plate Award from the American Academy of Achievement; the 1989 Law Enforcement Leadership Award from the Association of Federal Investigators and the DAR Medal of Honor; the Distinguished Eagle Scout Award in 1990; the Good Scout Award; the “Person of the Year” Award from the American Society for Industrial Security; the 1990 Magna Charta Award from the Baronial Order of the Magna Charta; and the Ellis Island Congressional Medal of Honor in 1992.

Directors, Then and Now
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- James B. Comey, 2013-Present
- Robert S. Mueller, III, 2001-2013
- Thomas J. Pickard (acting), 2001
- Louis J. Freeh, 1993-2001
- Floyd I. Clarke (acting), 1993
- William S. Sessions, 1987-1993
- John E. Otto (acting), 1987
- William H. Webster, 1978-1987
- James B. Adams (acting), 1978
- Clarence M. Kelley, 1973-1978
- William D. Ruckelshaus (acting), 1973
- L. Patrick Gray (acting), 1972-1973
- J. Edgar Hoover, 1924-1972
- William J. Burns, 1921-1924
- William J. Flynn, 1919-1921
- William E. Allen (acting), 1919
- Alexander B. Bielaski, 1912-1919
- Stanley W. Finch, 1908-1912

‪The FBI Director:
Background on the Position‬
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‪Since its beginning in 1908, the FBI has been led by a single individual. At first called “Chief,” this leader has been titled “Director” since the term of William Flynn (1919-1921). The FBI Director has answered directly to the attorney general since the 1920s.‬ ‪Under the Omnibus Crime Control Act and Safe Streets Act of 1968, Public Law 90-3351, the Director is appointed by the U.S. President and confirmed by the Senate. On October 15, 1976, in reaction to the extraordinary 48-year term of J. Edgar Hoover, Congress passed Public Law 94-503, limiting the FBI Director to a single term of no longer than 10 years. ‪Details