World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Henry J. Friendly

Henry J. Friendly
Judge of United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
In office
September 9, 1959 – March 11, 1986
Nominated by Dwight D. Eisenhower
Preceded by Harold Medina
Succeeded by Ellsworth Van Graafeiland
Personal details
Born (1903-07-03)July 3, 1903
Elmira, New York
Died March 11, 1986(1986-03-11) (aged 82)
New York City, New York
Spouse(s) Sophie S. Stern
Children David S Friendly, Joan Goodman, Ellen Simon
Alma mater Harvard College, Harvard Law School

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.

Before the bench

Judge Friendly graduated from Harvard College in 1923 and received his law degree from Harvard Law School in 1927.[1] 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.[2] 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.[3] Friendly then entered private practice in New York City from 1928 to 1959,[4] 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.[4]

Judicial service

Friendly was appointed by President Dwight D. Eisenhower to a seat on the Second Circuit vacated by Harold Raymond Medina.[4] 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.[4] 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.[5]


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."[6]

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."[7]

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."[7]

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."[7]

Harvard Law School has a professorship named after Judge Friendly. Paul C. Weiler, a Canadian constitutional law scholar, held it from 1993 to 2006;[8] William J. Stuntz, a scholar of criminal law and procedure, held it from 2006 until his death in March 2011.[9]

The Federal Bar Council awarded Judge Friendly a Certificate of Distinguished Judicial Service posthumously in 1986.[10]

The American Law Institute has an award named in memory of Judge Friendly and endowed by his former law clerks.[11]

Notable former law clerks


Judge Friendly's wife of 55 years, Sophine S. Stern, died a year before his suicide.[37]

Judge Friendly was survived at his death by son David S. Friendly and two daughters, Joan Goodman and Ellen Simon, and 11 grandchildren.[3]

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.[38][39]


External links

  • Federal Judicial Center.

This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.