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The Honorable Frank M. Coffin — a senior United States Court of Appeals judge for the First Circuit, a former U.S. Representative and an advocate for legal assistance to low-income Maine residents — has been named Colby College’s 2006 recipient of the Morton A. Brody Distinguished Judicial Service Award.
On Sunday, March 19, Coffin, of South Portland, Maine, will receive the award and will deliver a talk at 8 p.m. titled “My Judicial Key Ring,” in Lorimer Chapel on the Waterville campus. As part of the Brody Award ceremony, The Goldfarb Center for Public Affairs and Civic Engagement will offer a panel discussion, “The Roberts Court: Issues of the Next Decade,” at 4 p.m. that afternoon in Room 100 of the Lovejoy Building. Both events are open to the public.
The Brody Award was established to recognize a federal or state judge who demonstrates the qualities of integrity, compassion, humanity, and judicial excellence — all qualities exhibited by the Honorable Morton Brody, a U.S. District Court judge in Maine who died in 2000. A long-time Waterville resident, Brody taught courses at Colby on the judicial system and was a friend of the college for many years.
The Honorable D. Brock Hornby, a federal district judge of the United States District Court in Maine and chair of the Brody Award selection committee, called Coffin “a living paragon of what a judge should be. Frank Coffin is fair, decent, kind, a judge who above all is concerned that justice be done. He is a person of great intellect, a gifted writer and public speaker, and a mentor and friend to generations of law clerks who have worked for him and law students who have learned from him.”
A Maine native, Coffin has served for more than 40 years as circuit judge for the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit.
Coffin earned his undergraduate degree in 1940 from Bates College (also the late Judge Brody’s alma mater) and his law degree from Harvard Law School in 1947. During World War II Coffin served in the Pacific Theater with the U.S. Navy from 1943 to 1946, first as an ensign and later as a lieutenant.
After being admitted to the bar, Coffin clerked for a federal judge in Maine and then practiced law for five years in Lewiston before becoming a partner at Verrill, Dana, Walker, Philbrick and Whitehouse in Portland. From 1954 to 1956 he was the chairman of the Maine Democratic State Committee and went on to serve as U.S. Congressman from Maine’s second district from 1957 to 1960. In 1965 he was appointed to the U.S. Court of Appeals.
The author of four books and dozens of articles, Coffin holds honorary degrees from Colby, Bates, Bowdoin, and the University of Maine. Among his numerous awards are the 1970 Edwin T. Dahlberg Peace Award and the 2001 Devitt Distinguished Service Award. The University of Maine School of Law holds an annual lecture in his honor and 16 law firms in Portland sponsor the Frank M. Coffin Fellowship for Family Law.
Beyond Judge Hornby, members of the selection committee are Vincent McKusick, former chief judge of the Maine Supreme Court; Nancy Gertner, a federal district judge in Boston; Colleen Khoury, professor and former dean of the University of Maine School of Law; Charles Miller, a Portland attorney; L. Sandy Maisel, co-director of the Goldfarb Center for Public Affairs and Civic Engagement at Colby; Anne Depew, an analyst with Glass Lewis in Boston; William D. Adams, president of Colby; and a member of the Brody family.
The panel discussion will include selection committee member Gertner as well as Hon. Robert Katzmann, a judge in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit; Derek Langhauser, general counsel for the Maine Community College System; and Hon. James Tierney, former attorney general of the State of Maine. Elizabeth Brody Gluck will moderate.
The program is offered by Colby’s Goldfarb Center for Public Affairs and Civic Engagement, which connects teaching and research with contemporary political, economic and social issues.