Henry Friendly bigraphy, stories - American judge

Henry Friendly : biography

03 July 1903 - 11 March 1986

Henry Jacob Friendly (July 3, 1903 – March 11, 1986) was a prominent judge in the United States, who sat on the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit from 1959 through 1974 (including service as Chief Judge from 1971 to 1973) and in senior status until his death by suicide in 1986.


In a ceremony following Judge Friendly's death, Chief Justice of the United States, Warren E. Burger, said, "In my 30 years on the bench, I have never known a judge more qualified to sit on the Supreme Court."

At the same ceremony, Associate Justice Thurgood Marshall called Judge Friendly "a man of the law."http://www.lexis.com/research/retrieve/frames?_m=c2c55cb12712faecf0c5b50798918330&docnum=18&_fmtstr=FULL&_startdoc=1&wchp=dGLbVzz-zSkAt&_md5=0c88b69ff076c882e26e91fd9d5efdae

In a letter to the editor of The New York Times following Judge Friendly's obituary, Judge Jon O. Newman called Judge Friendly "quite simply the pre-eminent appellate judge of his era " who "authored the definitive opinions for the nation in each area of the law that he had occasion to consider."

In a statement after Judge Friendly's death, Judge Wilfred Feinberg, the 2nd Circuit's Chief Judge at the time, called Judge Friendly "one of the greatest Federal judges in the history of the Federal bench."

Richard A. Posner of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, described Judge Friendly as "the most distinguished judge in this country during his years on the bench."

Harvard Law School has a professorship named after Judge Friendly. Paul C. Weiler, a Canadian constitutional law scholar, held it from 1993 to 2006; William J. Stuntz, a scholar of criminal law and procedure, held it from 2006 until his death in March 2011.

The Federal Bar Council awarded Judge Friendly a Certificate of Distinguished Judicial Service posthumously in 1986.

The American Law Institute has an award named in memory of Judge Friendly and endowed by his former law clerks.

Judicial service

Friendly was appointed by President Dwight D. Eisenhower to a seat on the Second Circuit vacated by Harold Raymond Medina. Friendly's appointment had been endorsed on the basis of merit by several prominent judges and lawyers, including Judge Learned Hand.

Judge Friendly was confirmed by the United States Senate on September 9, 1959, and received his commission the next day. He served as the Chief Judge of the Second Circuit from 1971 to 1973.

Friendly's opinions for the Second Circuit were considered scholarly and of superior quality; many are still cited today, particularly in the field of securities law.

Friendly received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1977.


Judge Friendly took his own life at age 82 on March 11, 1986 in his Park Avenue apartment in New York City. Police said they found three notes in the apartment, one addressed to his resident maid and two unaddressed notes. In all three notes, the judge talked about his distress at his wife's death, his declining health and his failing eyesight, according to a police spokesman. His wife, the former Sophine S. Stern, had died a year and four days earlier. They had been married for 55 years.


Judge Friendly's wife of 55 years, Sophine S. Stern, died a year before his suicide.

Judge Friendly was survived at his death by son David S. Friendly and two daughters, Joan Goodman and Ellen Simon, and 11 grandchildren.

Joan Friendly Goodman is a Professor of Education at the University of Pennsylvania and is married to Prof. Frank Goodman of the University of Pennsylvania Law School, an administrative law and federal courts expert.

Notable former law clerks

  • David P. Currie (1960–1961), Edward H. Levi Distinguished Service Professor, University of Chicago Law School
  • Peter B. Edelman (1961–1962), Professor of Law & Co-Director, Joint Degree in Law and Public Policy, Georgetown Law Center
  • Stephen R. Barnett (1962–1963), Elizabeth Josselyn Boalt Professor of Law, Emeritus, Boalt Hall, University of California, Berkeley
  • Pierre N. Leval (1963–1964), Judge, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
  • Michael Boudin (1964–1965), Chief Judge, U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit
  • Bruce A. Ackerman (1967–1968), Sterling Professor of Law and Political Science, Yale Law School
  • Arthur Raymond Randolph (1969–1970), Judge, U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
  • Walter Hellerstein (1970–1971), Francis Shackleford Distinguished Professor of Taxation Law, University of Georgia School of Law
  • Martin Glenn (1971–1972), Judge, U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York
  • Lawrence B. Pedowitz (1972–1973), Partner, Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz
  • Frederick T. Davis (1972–1973), Partner, Litigation Department, Debevoise & Plimpton LLP, Paris
  • William Curtis Bryson (1973–1974), Judge, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit
  • James R. Smoot (1974–1975), Dean & Professor of Law, Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law, The University of Memphis
  • Philip Bobbitt (1975–1976), Thomas M. Macioce Professor of Law, Columbia Law School
  • Ruth Wedgwood (1976–1977), Edward B. Burling Professor of International Law and Diplomacy & Director of the International Law and Organization Program, The Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) of Johns Hopkins University; Member, United Nations Human Rights Committee
  • Theodore N. Mirvis (1976–1977), Partner, Litigation Department, Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz
  • Merrick B. Garland (1977–1978), Chief Judge, U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
  • Mary I. Coombs (1978–1979), Professor of Law, University of Miami School of Law
  • John G. Roberts, Jr. (1979–1980), Chief Justice of the United States
  • Marc Wolinsky (1980–1981),Partner, Litigation Department, Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz
  • Gary Born (1981–1982), Partner, Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr
  • Jonathan R. Macey (1982–1983), Sam Harris Professor of Corporate Law, Corporate Finance and Securities Law, Yale Law School
  • David J. Seipp (1982-1983), Professor of Law, Boston University School of Law
  • Larry D. Kramer (1984–1985), president of The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation; on leave as Richard E. Lang Professor of Law and formerly the Dean, Stanford Law School
  • Thomas G. Dagger (1986) of AT&T

Before the bench

Judge Friendly graduated from Harvard College in 1923 and received his law degree from Harvard Law School in 1927. It is widely rumored that Friendly graduated with the highest grade point average ever attained (before or since) at Harvard Law School, but confirmation of this claim is difficult to find, and the claim is sometimes also made for U.S. Supreme Court Justices Louis Brandeis and Felix Frankfurter. The Harvard Crimson on June 23, 1927 reported that Friendly was the first Harvard Law graduate to receive a degree summa cum laude. Frankfurter, while still a professor at Harvard Law School, sent his student to work as a clerk for Justice Louis D. Brandeis of the United States Supreme Court. Friendly then entered private practice in New York City from 1928 to 1959, and was a founding partner of Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP, where his law partners included George W. Ball and Melvin Steen. He served as Vice President and General Counsel of Pan American World Airways in New York City from 1946 to 1959.

Living octopus

Living octopus

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