Eighth Circuit Historical Society

The Historical Society of the United States Courts in the Eighth Circuit

Judge Diana E. Murphy The Honorable Diana E. Murphy
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit

Memorial Session
October 18, 2018

Video | Select Photos | Invitation | Program
Program Insert: Aria Selection | Program Insert: Native American Tribute

Click on images below for larger view.

Murphy Memorial: Court and Speakers
Judges of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit at the bench with speakers seated in front.

Mistress of Ceremonies Judge Jane Kelly
Judge Kelly as mistress of ceremonies.

Panel of former law clerks
Panel of former law clerks sharing stories, often humorous, from their clerkships. Seated in foreground is Minnesota's federal bench, with family, court staff, former law clerks, and special guests filling the packed courtroom.

Panel of former law clerks
Lisa Brabbit sharing her touching insights into Judge Murphy's persona.

Native American tribute
RedBone Singers performing Native American tribute

Native American tribute
RedBone Singers performing Native American tribute

On October 18, 2018, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit held a memorial session as extraordinary as the woman it honored.

As judges, former law clerks, court staff, family, friends, and special guests filed into courtroom 5A of St. Paul's federal courthouse, opera music played in the background. In a nod to Judge Murphy’s love of opera, Libby Larsen, Grammy-winning composer and friend of Judge Murphy, chose an aria from Puccini’s Madame Butterfly, for the occasion. Read more about the aria selection here.

Presiding U.S. Court of Appeals Chief Judge Lavenski Smith closed his opening remarks by reading an email from former U.S. Senator for Minnesota Rudy Boschwitz relating Judge Murphy’s confirmation hearing as a nominee for the District of Minnesota.

Judge Jane Kelly served as Mistress of Ceremonies and spoke of the years she shared on the appeals bench with Judge Murphy. She said that when she joined the court in 2013 as the second woman on the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, Judge Murphy was very welcoming to her, exclaiming “I’ve been waiting for you for 20 years!” She said she enjoyed their chats during court weeks when they visited each other’s chambers. She also recounted that at some point, they sat on a panel of active judges on which “the girls outnumbered the boys.”

Judge Paul Magnuson, who served with Judge Murphy during her time on Minnesota’s district court, spoke of her years on that court, including two of her notable cases.

Circuit Judge David Hansen, listed on the program to address Judge Murphy’s early years on the appeals court, was unfortunately unable to attend the ceremony.

Congressman Thomas E. Emmer, Jr., U.S. Representative for Minnesota’s Sixth Congressional District, in attendance, and U.S. Senator for Minnesota Amy Klobuchar, via recorded video, described what a fitting tribute it is that S.3021, passed just days before the ceremony, had named the Minneapolis courthouse as the Diana E. Murphy U.S. Courthouse.

Next, former law clerks shared their stories of respect and admiration in a very candid panel discussion touched with humor. Justice Margaret Chutich of the Minnesota Supreme Court led this conversation between herself and Dan Gustafson, founding partner of Gustafson Gluek; Laura Provinzino, Assistant U.S. Attorney, Minnesota, and Kyle Wislocky, associate at Ciresi Conlin.

Lisa Brabbit, Senior Associate Dean for External Relations and Programs at University of St. Thomas School of Law, Infinity Project founder, and close friend to Judge Murphy, gave an insightful, touching tribute, bringing tears to several in attendance.

Finally, Kirsten Matoy Carlson, Professor Wayne State University Law School and former Murphy law clerk, gave a presentation on Judge Murphy’s contributions to Native American law.

Speakers recounted Judge Murphy’s life and legacy. They described her as poised, soft-spoken, virtuous, and kind. They told of her determination to persevere despite obstacles and of her legacy as a woman of firsts. They spoke of her leadership in numerous judicial, professional, and civic organizations, while never shirking her duties as a judge. They said that she was always prepared for the cases before her and that she treated all cases as important. They described her adept consensus-building skills and her unusual capacity to get things done. They spoke of her tireless advocacy for putting women on the bench and in positions of power and of her mentoring many women in the legal profession. They also spoke of Judge Murphy’s support of issues of great importance to her, such as race relations, Native American injustices, and civil rights.

Judge Murphy’s memorial session ended with the Native American RedBone Singers paying musical homage to the federal judge who understood their plight. Seated in a circle in the courtroom, they performed an honor song and a traveling song as the court and all attendees stood in tribute.

A reception followed on the first floor. On exhibit was Judge Murphy’s three-panel display with accompanying biographical brochure, created by the U.S. Courts Library.

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