Woodson Conrad James was the great-nephew of outlaw bank-robber Jesse James (born Jesse Woodson James). Unlike his infamous great-uncle, Woodson grew his fortune in a more socially acceptable way; he was a lawyer specializing in criminal defense.
Woodson was eight years old when he learned of his great-uncle’s treacherous life, and although saddened by the deaths left in Jesse’s crime spree wake, Woodson was proud of having such a well-known, and feared, family member. It is said that he decided early on to become a criminal defense attorney in memory of his great-uncle Jesse.
Woodson was clever and unusually successful. His services came at a high price, and his satisfied clients included mobsters, casino owners, corporate CEOs, high-end escorts, and petty thieves from good families. Although he treated his clients with respect, each was aware that if one wanted Woodson as your attorney, you’d best be prepared to pay grand hourly fees for listening to tale after tale of Jesse’s exploits.
Despite his legal successes, Woodson did not fully escape the notoriety of his great-uncle. He, like Jesse, fell in love with his first cousin, Naomi Springfield; but unlike Jesse, who eventually married his first cousin, Woodson feared being ostracized due to the familial love affair and, after five years of romantic secrecy and promises of betrothment, he ended the relationship with Naomi.
Naomi, heart-broken and furious, arrived at Woodson’s home under the guise of returning a diamond necklace he’d given her. Instead, she grabbed one of Jesse’s pistols from the collection on display in Woodson’s living room, walked quietly to his office, and shot him in the face as he sat at his desk eating his lunch, a ham sandwich.
She’d later claim she hadn’t realized the gun was loaded and only wanted to threaten Woodson, not kill him. She was found guilty of pre-meditated murder and given a life sentence. Her attorney worked a plea that promised she’d never be served ham sandwiches in prison.