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2009

Former justice Myron L. Gordon remembered as 'top-notch' jurist

Madison, Wisconsin - November 5, 2009

Former Supreme Court Justice Myron GordonFormer Wisconsin Supreme Court justice Myron L. Gordon, who also served as a federal judge and county judge during his career, died Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2009 in Palm Desert, Calif. He was 91.

Gordon served on the state’s highest court from 1962 to 1967, when he was appointed by President Lyndon B. Johnson as a federal district court judge for the Eastern District of Wisconsin.

Gordon was well-respected and admired during his service as a judge, said Supreme Court Chief Justice Shirley S. Abrahamson.

"I had known him well as a Supreme Court justice and as a federal district court judge in Milwaukee. He was recognized as an excellent trial judge and appellate judge, who had many friends across the state," Abrahamson said.

Gordon was born February 11, 1918, in Kenosha. He graduated with a bachelor's and master's degree from the University of Wisconsin in 1939. He earned his law degree from Harvard Law School in 1942 and was in private law practice in Milwaukee for the next eight years.

Gordon was a lieutenant in the U.S. Naval Reserves from 1944 to 1946. He later became a member of the Disabled American Veterans and was state commander in 1959. He was president of the Milwaukee Hearing Society from 1951 to 1953.

From 1950 to 1954, Gordon was a Milwaukee County civil court judge and a Milwaukee County circuit court judge from 1954 to 1961, when he was elected to the Wisconsin Supreme Court.

Gordon was known by colleagues as a “picturesque writer,” who occasionally included poetry or Shakespearean references in his opinions.

In 1992, Milwaukee Magazine gave Gordon high ratings for scholarship and decisiveness. "He borders on genius," said one lawyer. "He's able to cut through very complex issues and get to the meat of the issue. He understands the law completely."

In 1998, the Almanac of the Federal Judiciary printed the following: "During trial, lawyers said Gordon runs a tight ship: 'He's the epitome of a judge who rules with an iron fist, but it is a fair fist."

When he received the State Bar of Wisconsin's 2001 Lifetime Jurist Achievement Award, Gordon was honored as an impartial judge who could see "the human factor." He retired from the federal bench in 2001.

In noting Gordon's death, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported Nov. 4 that Gordon was perhaps best known as the judge who presided over the case of the Milwaukee 14, a group of protesters against the Vietnam War who broke into the Selective Service office in Milwaukee and destroyed draft records.

In June 1969, Gordon dismissed the case against 10 defendants because he felt the news coverage made selection of an unbiased jury impossible.

Gordon is survived by his wife, Myra. Gordon's first wife, Peggy, died in 1973. Funeral arrangements are pending.

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