Harry T. Edwards
Harry T. Edwards
|Senior Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit|
|Assumed office |
November 3, 2005
|Chief Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit|
September 19, 1994 – July 16, 2001
|Preceded by||Abner Mikva|
|Succeeded by||Douglas H. Ginsburg|
|Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit|
February 20, 1980 – November 3, 2005
|Appointed by||Jimmy Carter|
|Preceded by||David L. Bazelon|
|Succeeded by||Seat abolished|
Harry Thomas Edwards
November 3, 1940
New York City, New York
|Education||Cornell University (B.S.)|
University of Michigan Law School (J.D.)
Harry Thomas Edwards (born November 3, 1940), an American jurist and legal scholar, is currently a Senior United States Circuit Judge and chief judge emeritus of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in Washington, D.C., and a professor of law at the New York University School of Law.
Early life and education
Edwards was born in New York City, New York, the oldest of three children and the son of Arline Ross Edwards and George H. Edwards. His parents were divorced in 1950 and Edwards and his two sisters, Verne Debourg and Pamela Matthews, were raised by their mother. From 1952 to 1953, his mother attended Smith College, where she earned a Master's degree in social work. While his mother was away, Edwards lived with his grandparents, in the Harlem section of Manhattan, New York. When his mother returned, the family moved to Long Island, where Edwards attended Uniondale High School and was president of the first graduating class. In 1961, Edwards' mother married Thomas Lyle.
Edwards received a Bachelor of Science degree from Cornell University in 1962 and a Juris Doctor from University of Michigan Law School in 1965. He graduated from law school with distinction and was a member of the Michigan Law Review and the Order of the Coif. When he graduated from Michigan, he was the only African American (law student or member of the faculty) in the law school.
During his time in Michigan, Edwards spent time with his father, George H. Edwards, a long-time member of the Michigan House of Representatives; his stepmother, Esther Gordy Edwards, a Senior Vice President at Motown Record Company; and Berry Gordy, Jr., the founder of Motown Record Company.
Professional career: 1965–1980
Despite his very strong academic record in law school, Edwards had difficulty finding a job in the legal profession because he was African American. All of the major law firms to which he applied openly rejected him because of his race. It was only after Professor Russell Smith, his mentor at Michigan, interceded on his behalf that he was hired at Seyfarth, Shaw, Fairweather & Geraldson. He worked with the firm in Chicago, Illinois from 1965 to 1970, specializing in labor relations law and collective bargaining.
In 1970, he accepted an invitation to join the faculty of the University of Michigan Law School and became the first African American to teach at the law school. His teaching and scholarship focused on labor law, collective bargaining, labor law in the public sector, employment discrimination, arbitration, negotiations, and higher education and the law. In 1974, he and his then-wife Becky, and their children, Brent and Michelle, traveled to Brussels, Belgium, where Edwards was a Visiting Professor of Law at the Free University of Brussels. In 1975, Edwards accepted an invitation to visit at Harvard Law School. He was a Visiting Professor of Law at Harvard Law School during the 1975–76 school year and then accepted a tenured position on the law school faculty in 1976. While at Harvard, Edwards was also a faculty member at the Institute for Educational Management at Harvard University from 1976 through 1982. During this period, he co-authored a book on Higher Education and the Law, which was a major shift in his academic work. In the spring of 1977, Edwards and his family returned to Ann Arbor, Michigan, where he rejoined the faculty of the University of Michigan Law School. In 1980, Edwards was the co-author of four different casebooks (the only legal scholar in the country at the time to achieve the feat).
In 1977, Edwards was nominated by President Carter and confirmed by the Senate to serve on the Board of Directors of Amtrak. He was subsequently elected Chairman by the other members of the Board. He resigned his position with Amtrak when he was appointed to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in 1980. From 1970 until 1980, Edwards served as neutral labor arbitrator on a number of major company and union arbitration panels; he was also Vice President of the National Academy of Arbitrators.
Federal judicial service
When President Carter took office in 1977, there were only two blacks and one woman among the active federal court of appeals judges. To address this situation, the President established merit selection panels to identify and recommend highly qualified female and minority attorneys for appointment to the federal bench. In 1979, the judicial selection panel for the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit sent nine names to then-Attorney General Griffin Bell. From that list, President Carter nominated Patricia Wald, Abner Mikva, and Edwards to serve on the court. Ruth Bader Ginsburg was later nominated when an additional opening arose on the D.C. Circuit. Edwards was nominated by the President on December 6, 1979 to a seat vacated by Judge David L. Bazelon, and confirmed by the United States Senate on February 20, 1980. The President signed his commission to join the court on February 20, 1980. He was 39 years old when he joined the court, reputedly the youngest federal court of appeals judge sitting at the time.
Judge Edwards served as Chief Judge from the fall of 1994 until July 2001. During his nearly seven years as Chief Judge of the D.C. Circuit, Edwards directed numerous IT initiatives at the D.C. Circuit; oversaw a complete reorganization of the Clerk's Office and Legal Division; implemented case management programs that helped to cut the court's case backlog and reduce case disposition times; successfully pursued congressional support for the construction of the William B. Bryant Annex to the E. Barrett Prettyman U.S. Courthouse; presided over the court's hearings in United States v. Microsoft; established programs to enhance communications with the lawyers who practice before the court; and received high praise from members of the bench, bar, and press for fostering collegial relations among the members of the court. He assumed senior status on November 3, 2005.
Law teaching and scholarship since 1980
Since 1980, Judge Edwards has taught at a number of law schools, including Duke, Georgetown, Harvard, Pennsylvania, and Michigan. He is presently a professor of law at the NYU School of Law, where he has taught since 1990. In 2010, he was the C.V. Starr Distinguished Jurist in Residence at the Peking University School of Transnational Law, Shenzhen, China. He is the coauthor of five books. His most recent book is Edwards & Elliott, Federal Standards of Review (3d ed. 2018).
One of his most significant publications, "The Growing Disjunction Between Legal Education and the Legal Profession", 91 Mich. L. Rev. 34 (1992), has been the source of extensive comment, discussion, and debate among legal scholars and practitioners. The article has been recognized as "one of the most-cited law review articles of all time." Three other articles, "Collegial Decision Making in the U.S. Courts of Appeals" (July 2017); Edwards & Livermore, "The Pitfalls of Empirical Studies That Attempt to Understand the Factors Affecting Appellate Decisionmaking", 58 Duke L.J.1895 (2009); and "The Effects of Collegiality on Judicial Decision Making", 151 U. Pa. L. Rev. 1639 (May 2003), explain how appellate judges decide cases and refute the claim that the personal ideologies and political leanings of court of appeals judges are crucial determinants in their decision-making.
In the 2017 paper, Judge Edwards contends that too often commentators attempt to equate the decision-making practices of the U.S. Courts of Appeals with those of the U.S. Supreme Court. This is a mistake, he says, because the organizational structures and judicial responsibilities of the Supreme Court and the Courts of Appeals are strikingly different. And, unlike the Supreme Court, most of the decisions issued by the Courts of Appeals are unanimous. For the terms between 2011 and 2016, the Courts of Appeals issued over 172,000 total decisions on the merits. Only 1.3% of these decisions included a dissent. Less than 1% of the total decisions included a concurring opinion. And 90% of “published” decisions were issued without a dissent. During the same time period: 56% of the decisions issued by the Supreme Court included a dissent; 40% of the signed decisions included a concurring opinion; and only 46% of the Supreme Court’s decisions were unanimous.
In 2004, in commemoration of the fiftieth anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education, Edwards authored "The Journey from Brown v. Board of Education to Grutter v. Bollinger: From Racial Assimilation to Diversity," 102 Mich. L. Rev. 944 (2004), drawing on his own personal and professional experiences to reflect on racial equality and inequality in America over the past 50 years and pondering the consequences of the shift from racial assimilation to diversity as a means of achieving racial equality. In 2017, he amplified some of his thoughts on racial bias in a paper entitled “Reflections on Racial Stigmas and Stereotyping.”
Work with the National Academy of Sciences
In 2006, Judge Edwards was appointed by the United States National Research Council at the National Academy of Sciences to serve as co-chair of the Committee on Identifying the Needs of the Forensic Science Community. On February 18, 2009, the Committee published a widely hailed study reporting serious deficiencies in the nation's forensic science system and calling for major reforms and new research. The report said that rigorous and mandatory certification programs for forensic scientists were lacking, as were strong standards and protocols for analyzing and reporting on evidence. The report also indicated that there was a dearth of peer-reviewed, published studies establishing the scientific bases and reliability of many forensic methods, and that many forensic science labs were underfunded, understaffed, and had no effective oversight. Numerous reform efforts have been initiated in the wake of the report.
Judge Edwards also served on the Committee on Science, Technology, and Law at the National Academy of Sciences from 2013 to 2018. In 2016, he served as Co-Chair of the Senior Advisors to the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, which published a “Report to the President – Forensic Science in Criminal Courts: Ensuring Scientific Validity of Feature-Comparison Methods” (2016). From 2009 to 2018, Judge Edwards wrote a number of papers and spoke out regularly in favor of reform in the forensic science community. In April 2019, the Judge received the Innocence Network Champion of Justice Award on behalf of the Committee on Identifying the Needs of the Forensic Science Community at the National Academy of Sciences. The award honors those who support efforts to reform the criminal justice system and prevent wrongful convictions.
Judge Edwards is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences; the Board of Directors, Institute for Judicial Administration, NYU School of Law; and a fellow of the American Bar Foundation. In 2004, Edwards received the Robert J. Kutak Award, presented by the American Bar Association Section of Legal Education and Admission to the Bar "to a person who meets the highest standards of professional responsibility and demonstrates substantial achievement toward increased understanding between legal education and the active practice of law." In 2011, Edwards was the recipient of the Inaugural Distinguished Alumni Award from the University of Michigan Law School. He was selected by William & Mary School of Law to receive their 2015 Marshall-Wythe Medallion, the highest honor conferred by the law faculty, recognizing members of the legal community who have demonstrated exceptional accomplishment in law; the Groat Alumni Award from Cornell University; the Society of American Law Teachers Award (for "Distinguished Contributions to Teaching and Public Service"); and he has received a number of honorary degrees.
Judge Edwards and his wife, Pamela Carrington-Edwards, were married in 2000. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg officiated their wedding ceremony. He has a son, Brent, who is a professor of comparative literature at Columbia University, a daughter, Michelle, and four grandchildren.
Judge Edwards is the coauthor of five books. He has also published scores of articles and papers dealing with legal education, the effects of collegiality on appellate decision making, the pitfalls of empirical studies that purport to measure and characterize judicial decision making, judicial process, federalism, comparative law, legal ethics, judicial administration, professionalism, labor law, equal employment opportunity, labor arbitration, higher education law, and alternative dispute resolution. The following list offers a sample of some of his publications:
- Harry T. Edwards & Linda A. Elliott, Federal Standards of Review (3d ed. 2018).
- Harry T. Edwards, Collegial Decision Making in the United States Courts of Appeals, presented at All Souls College, Oxford, Conference on “Counting Votes and Weighing Opinions—Collective Judging in Comparative Perspective,” 20 July 2107, NYU School of Law, Public Law Research Paper No. 17-47, available at SSRN
- Harry T. Edwards, Reflections on Racial Stigmas and Stereotyping (March 25, 2017), available at SSRN
- Harry T. Edwards, Another Look at Professor Rodell’s Goodbye to Law Reviews, 100 VA. L. Rev. 1483 (2014).
- Harry T. Edwards, The National Academy of SciencesReport on Forensic Sciences: What it Means for the Bench and Bar, 51 JurimetricsJ. 1 (Summer 2010).
- Harry T. Edwards, Pitfalls of Empirical Studies That Attempt to Understand the Factors Affecting Appellate Decisionmaking, 58 Duke L.J. 1895 (2009).
- Harry T. Edwards, The Journey from Brown v. Board of Education to Grutter v. Bollinger: From Racial Assimilation to Diversity, 102 Mich.L. Rev. 944 (2004).
- Harry T. Edwards, The Effects of Collegiality on Judicial Decision Making, 151 U. Pa.L. Rev. 1639 (2003).
- Harry T. Edwards, Race and the Judiciary, 20 Yale L. & Pol=y Rev. 325 (2002).
- Harry T. Edwards, Reflections (On Law Review, Legal Education, Law Practice, and My Alma Mater), 100 Mich. L. Rev. 1999 (2002).
- Harry T. Edwards, A New Vision for the Legal Profession, 72 N.Y.U. L. Rev.567 (1997).
- Harry T. Edwards, To Err Is Human, But Not Always Harmless: When Should Legal Error Be Tolerated?, 70 N.Y.U. L. Rev.1167 (1995).
- Harry T. Edwards, Personal Reflections on 30 Years of Legal Education for Minorities, 37 Mich.L. Quadrangle Notes 38 (Summer 1994).
- Harry T. Edwards, The Growing Disjunction Between Legal Education and the Legal Profession: A Postscript, 91 Mich. L. Rev.2191 (1993).
- Harry T. Edwards, The Growing Disjunction Between Legal Education and the Legal Profession, 91 Mich. L. Rev. 34 (1992).
- Harry T. Edwards, The Judicial Function and The Elusive Goal of Principled Decisionmaking, 1991 Wis. L. Rev. 837 (1991).
- Harry T. Edwards, A Lawyer's Duty to Serve the Public Good, 65 N.Y.U. L. Rev. 1148 (1990).
- Harry T. Edwards, Judicial Review of Labor Arbitration Awards: The Clash Between the Public Policy Exception and the Duty to Bargain, 64 Chi.-Kent L. Rev. 3 (1988).
- Harry T. Edwards, Alternative Dispute Resolution: Panacea or Anathema?, 99 Harv. L. Rev. 668 (1986).
- Harry T. Edwards, Deferral to Arbitration and Waiver of the Duty to Bargain: A Possible Way Out of Everlasting Confusion at the NLRB, 46 Ohio St. L.J. 23 (1985).
- Harry T. Edwards, The Emerging Duty to Bargain in the Public Sector, 71 Mich. L. Rev.885 (1973).
- Harry T. Edwards, A New Role for the Black Law Graduate: A Reality or an Illusion? 69 Mich. L. Rev. 1407 (1971).
- Federal Judicial Center, Biographical Directory of Article III Federal Judges, 1789-present; United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, Judge Harry T. Edwards.
- NYU School of Law Faculty Profile: Harry T. Edwards.
- Emily Cobb, Arlene (sic) Lyle – A Person for People, The Hudsonian (The Official Student Newspaper for Hudson Valley Community College, N.Y.), Feb. 13, 1974, p.3.
- Harry T. Edwards, Personal Reflections on Thirty Years of Legal Education for Minority Students, The University of Michigan Law School, Law Quadrangle Notes (Summer 1994), p.43.
- SIGNATURE, 1958 Yearbook for Uniondale High School, Uniondale, Long Island, New York, p. 55.
- Harry T. Edwards, The Journey from Brown v. Board of Education to Grutter v. Bollinger: From Racial Assimilation to Diversity, 102 MICH. L. REV. 944, 955 (2004).
- State of Michigan, Michigan Legislature, House Concurrent Resolution No. 924 offered as a Memorial for Mr. George H. Edwards, November 12 & 13, 1980; Paul Finkelman, editor, Encyclopedia of African American History, 1896 to the Present, from the Age of Segregation to the Twenty-first Century (Oxford Univ Press, 2009), Vol. 1, page 140.
- "MILDRED MATESICH AND A JUDGE ARE WED". The New York Times. July 19, 1987. Retrieved March 7, 2016.
- Valerie J. Nelson, Esther Gordy Edwards dies at 91; sister of Motown Records founder, Los Angeles Times (August 28, 2011); Detroit News photo gallery 1 and 2; Esther Gordy Edwards Obituary, Legacy.com.
- Berry Gordy, Jr. and Harry T. Edwards speaking at the funeral of Esther Gordy Edwards, The Detroit News.
- Harry T. Edwards, The Journey from Brown v. Board of Education to Grutter v. Bollinger: From Racial Assimilation to Diversity, 102 MICH. L. REV. 944, 955-56 (2004).
- Harry T. Edwards, Personal Reflections on Thirty Years of Legal Education for Minority Students, The University of Michigan Law School, Law Quadrangle Notes (Summer 1994), p.39.
- Four New Professors Join Law School Faculty, 15 L. Quadrangle Notes 2-3 (Fall, 1970).
- Harry T. Edwards, The Journey from Brown v. Board of Education to Grutter v. Bollinger: From Racial Assimilation to Diversity, 102 MICH. L. REV. 944, 956 (2004).
- Harry Edwards Joins Harvard Law Faculty, 20 L. Quadrangle Notes 6 (Spring, 1976).
- Faculty History, University of Michigan Law School; NYU School of Law Faculty Profile: Harry T. Edwards.
- Harry Edwards Appointed to U.S. Court Post, 24 L. Quadrangle Notes 1 (Winter, 1980).
- Harry Edwards Chairs Board of Amtrak, 24 L. Quadrangle Notes 3-4 (Fall, 1979); Harry T. Edwards, The Journey from Brown v. Board of Education to Grutter v. Bollinger: From Racial Assimilation to Diversity, 102 MICH. L. REV. 944, 956 (2004).
- Nancy Scherer; Diversifying the Federal Bench: Is Universal Legitimacy for the U.S. Justice System Possible?, 105 N.W. L. Rev. 587 (2011); Mary Clark, Carter's Groundbreaking Appointment of Women to the Federal Bench: His Other "Human Rights" Record, Association of American Law Schools (2003).
- National Center for State Courts, Federal Judicial Selection – Federal Judicial Nominating Commissions.
- Judicial Portraits – U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, Patricia McGowan Wald.
- Judicial Portraits – U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, Abner J. Mikva; Oral History of Hon. Abner J. Mikva; Dissenting Opinion, The University of Chicago Magazine (August 1996).
- Judicial Portraits – U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
- Federal Judicial Center, Biographical Directory of Article III Federal Judges, 1789-present.
- William K. Olivier, An Interview with Judge Harry T. Edwards, 49 JUDGES' J. 4 (Summer 2010).
- Lily Henning, The Edwards Treatment, Legal Times (Nov. 21, 2005); Personal Profile: J. Groner, Chiefly, Edwards Is A Calming Influence, Legal Times, Week of July 8, 1996, Vol. xix, No. 8, at p.1; Personal Profile: J. Groner, Don't Fence Him In, The American Lawyer, July/August 1996, at p. 39.
- Fred R. Shapiro & Michelle Pearse, The Most-Cited Law Review Articles of All Time, 110 MICH. L. REV. 1483, 1492, 1493, 1501 (2012).
- Harry T. Edwards, Collegial Decision Making in the U.S. Courts of Appeals, NYU School of Law, Public Law Research Paper No. 17-47 (November 15, 2017).
- Harry T. Edwards, The National Academy of Sciences Report on Forensic Sciences: What it Means for the Bench and Bar, 51 JURIMETRICS J. 1 (Summer 2010).
- Harry T. Edwards, Reflections on Racial Stigmas and Stereotyping (March 25, 2017).
- Strengthening Forensic Science in the United States: A Path Forward, National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (2009).
- 'Badly Fragmented' Forensic Science System Needs Overhaul; Evidence to Support Reliability of Many Techniques Is Lacking, National Academy of Sciences, Office of News and Other Public Information (Feb. 18, 2009).
- See, e.g., Nancy Petro, Four Years After Report Decrying Forensic Sciences, a Sign of Progress, The Wrongful Convictions Blog (April 5, 2013).
- Committee on Science, Technology, and Law, The National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine.
- Forensic Science in Criminal Courts: Ensuring Scientific Validity of Feature-Comparison Methods, Executive Office of the President, President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (September 2016).
- See, e.g, Harry T. Edwards, The National Academy of Sciences Report on Forensic Sciences: What it Means for the Bench and Bar, 51 Jurimetrics 1 (Fall 2010); Judge Harry T. Edwards delivers opening address at the inaugural meeting of the National Commission on Forensic Science (February 3, 2014) and Reflections on the Findings of the National Academy of Sciences Committee on Identifying the Needs of the Forensic Science Community and Meeting on the Path Forward, Evidence Technology Magazine; Evidence, Science, and Reason in an Era of “Post-Truth” Politics, Harvard Law School (October 27, 2017); Harry T. Edwards & Jennifer L. Mnookin, A Wake-up Call on the Junk Science Infesting Our Courtrooms, Washington Post (September 20, 2016); Harry T. Edwards, Ten Years After the National Academy of Sciences’ Landmark Report on Strengthening Forensic Science in the United States: A Path Forward – Where are We?, NYU School of Law, Public Law Research Paper No. 19-23 (April 12, 2019).
- Co-Chairs of Forensic Science Report Honored by Innocence Network, The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (April 12, 2019).
- Becky Freligh, Edwards, Fiske, Pogue: First Distinguished Alumni Award Winners, The University of Michigan Law School (2011).
- Weddings; Pamela Carrington, Harry Edwards, New York Times (Feb. 13, 2000).
- See Ronald K. L. Collins, “On Legal Scholarship: Questions for Judge Harry T. Edwards,” 65 Journal of Legal Education 637 (Spring 2016).
- Edwards, Harry T. (November 15, 2017). "Collegial Decision Making in the U.S. Courts of Appeals". doi:10.2139/ssrn.3071857. Retrieved August 15, 2019 – via papers.ssrn.com.
- Edwards, Harry T. (March 25, 2017). "Reflections on Racial Stigmas and Stereotyping". Retrieved August 15, 2019 – via papers.ssrn.com.
- Edwards, Harry T. (March 25, 2017). "Reflections on Racial Stigmas and Stereotyping". doi:10.2139/ssrn.3064876. Retrieved August 15, 2019 – via papers.ssrn.com.
- Harry Thomas Edwards at the Biographical Directory of Federal Judges, a public domain publication of the Federal Judicial Center.
Media related to Harry T. Edwards at Wikimedia Commons
David L. Bazelon
| Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
| Chief Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
Douglas H. Ginsburg