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Wednesday, April 27, A.D. 2011
An Old Bench

Happy Bright Wednesday! Christ is risen!

The Associated Press published a story a few weeks ago that made me smile. U.S. District Judge Wesley Brown, a Kansan at one hundred and three years old whom President Kennedy appointed to the federal bench, exemplifies old school values as he continues to work every day:

Of the 1,294 sitting federal judges, Brown is one of 516 on “senior status,” a form of semi-retirement that allows a judge to collect his salary but work at a reduced case level if he chooses. They handle almost a quarter of federal district trials.

And no one alive has logged more service than Brown, who took senior status in 1979 but still worked fulltime until recently. In March, he stopped taking new criminal cases and lightened his case load a bit. He still takes his full share of the new civil cases.

“I do it to be a public service,” Brown said. “You got to have a reason to live. As long as you perform a public service, you have a reason to live.”

Brown gets a ride to the federal courthouse at 8:30 a.m. every workday from the assisted living center where he lives. Until he was in his 90s, he climbed the stairs to his fourth-floor chambers. He works until about 3 p.m. presiding over hearings, reading court filings and discussing cases with his law clerks who handle the legal research.

We hear so many tales of public workers who fleece the body politic, it is refreshing to see men with true civic dedication. Read his story on N.P.R., “Federal judge, 103, still hearing cases in Kansas.” Many years, Judge Brown, many more years to you!

Posted by Joseph on Wednesday, April 27, Anno Domini 2011
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