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Friday, July 07, 2006

The passing of Judge John M. Manos

I was saddened to read in this morning's paper that long-time U.S. District Judge John M. Manos passed away.

He was a remarkable person who I had the privilege of interviewing in 2003 for a Spotlight profile in Case Alumni magazine. I remember telling the editor at the time that he had enough stories to fill a book. What a fascinating project that would have been.

That he was still on the bench at the time of his death didn't surprise me. As he told me then:

"I’m going to keep going until I die,” he says, adding that a survey by a national association of judges found that judges who quit, engaging in no other work, died within two years.

“I enjoy the courtroom and I enjoy the cases. It keeps me alive,” he says.

We spoke for nearly an hour while he was at his home recovering from surgery. I could easily see how legions of law students fell under his spell. His stories, his passion for the law and his consummate preparation made him a singular force on the federal bench. And yet he was willing to share what he knew and that's what made him legendary.

He was a model for perseverance, attending law school at night so he could continue supporting his family with his day job as an engineer. Not one to rest on his laurels, he maintained a prodigious caseload even in his later years.

But perhaps he is most remembered for his commitment to his family and to helping young lawyers. As his son-in-law Patrick McLaughlin was quoted as saying, "The bottom line is that they just don't make many like him anymore."

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