December 2016

In Memoriam: Judge Myron H. Bright

On December 12, 2016, U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Myron H. Bright passed away at the age of 97, after 48 years of service as a federal judge. He was the longest-serving working judge on the Eighth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, hearing cases as recently as September 2016.
He was born on March 5, 1919, in Eveleth, Minnesota, the son of Jewish immigrants from Russia. He grew up in the Iron Range of northeastern Minnesota during the Great Depression, and later said that growing up in a mining community among first-generation Americans taught him about tolerance and the issues faced by working people.
Bright served as a U.S. Army Air Corps Captain during World War II and then attended the University of Minnesota Law School, graduating in 1947. He married Frances Louise Reisler, known as “Fritzie,” in 1946, and they had two children, Dinah Ann and Joshua Robert.
After law school, Bright moved to Fargo and joined the firm of Wattam, Vogel and Vogel (later Wattam, Vogel, Vogel, Bright and Peterson), where he engaged in general practice, with a heavy emphasis on litigation, for 21 years.
Judge Melloy’s wife Jane Anne and daughters Jennifer, Katherine, and Bridget unveiled his portrait, which was painted by artist Jacqueline Jasper.
In 1968, Bright was nominated by Lyndon B. Johnson to the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals to a seat vacated by Judge Charles J. Vogel. He took senior status in 1985 and continued to serve the Court for 31 more years.
Judge Bright, called a legal giant and champion for equal justice under the law, was revered by judges and lawyers nationwide. He wrote noteworthy rulings in environmental law, employment discrimination law, criminal law, and evidence, and he expressed his dissatisfaction with the federal sentencing guidelines.
His distinguished career extends far beyond the courtroom. He served on the Judicial Conference committees for Administration of the Probation System (1977-1983), Advisory Committee on Appellate Rules (1989-1990), and International Judicial Relations (1996- 2003).
He initiated week-long Jurists-in-Residence programs at several schools, participating with United States Supreme Court Justices and circuit and district court colleagues. He lectured at most law schools in the Midwest, and in 2002, traveled on behalf of the U.S. Department of State to lecture in Sweden and Latvia. In 2007, again on behalf of the State Department, he traveled to the Middle East to exchange views about judicial education with representatives of international courts.
He authored numerous publications, including the book Objections at Trial, with Ronald L. Carlson, and the classic articles: “The Ten Commandments of Oral Argument,” 67 A.B.A.J. 1136 (1981) and “Appellate Briefwriting: Some ‘Golden’ Rules,” 17 CREIGHTON L. REV. 1069 (1984). In 2014, North Dakota State University published his autobiography, Goodbye Mike, Hello Judge: My Journey for Justice.
Judge Bright received numerous awards and honors, some of which are listed in his biographical brochure. To read more about Judge Bright and watch his interview conducted by Judge Richard G. Kopf on July 21, 2015, visit Judge Bright’s page on the Historical Society website. Judge Bright's memorial service can be found, here.