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Longest Serving Federal Appeals Judge Dies at 93

Posted May 9, 2012 7:07 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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Judge James Browning of the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has died at the age of 93.

Browning was the nation’s longest serving federal appeals judge, the Associated Press reports. President Kennedy appointed Browning to the court in 1961; he was chief judge from 1976 to 1988. The San Francisco Chronicle and the Los Angeles Times also have obituaries.

The court’s headquarters in San Francisco was renamed in Browning’s honor in 2005. He took senior status in 2000.

Browning has said his greatest contribution to the court was helping persuade Congress not to split the appeals court, the Los Angeles Times says. The court had only nine active judges when he took the bench; he pushed to add judgeships and succeeded. Ten new judgeships were approved, and President Carter filled them, “imprinting the bench with the liberal image it still retains for many,” the Times says. The court now has 28 judges.

University of Pittsburgh law professor Arthur Hellman called Browning “the architect of the modern 9th Circuit” in an interview with the San Francisco Chronicle. He said Browning created innovations in case management, persuaded judges to work together despite differing views, and helped create the disciplinary system for federal judges.

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