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Judge Damon Keith Celebrates 50 Years on the Bench

By George Khoury, Esq. | Last updated on

Prominent federal court and federal appellate court Justice Damon Jerome Keith, now 95 years old, is celebrating his 50th year of judging, and doesn't show any signs of getting off the bench.

Judge Keith started his judicial career in 1967 when President Lyndon Johnson appointed him to the federal Eastern District Court in Michigan. A decade later President Jimmy Carter nominated Judge Keith for the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, where he has remained for the last 40 years.

A Judicial Legacy

Before becoming Judge Keith, Damon Keith served in the United States military during World War II. After the war, while studying to become a lawyer in the late 1940s, he worked as a janitor, where he was mocked for his desire to become a lawyer.

However, he not only became an attorney, he became a major player in the civil rights movement as a co-chair for the Michigan Civil Rights Commission in 1964. And his ever-growing legacy of judicial decisions continue to uphold civil rights laws and protect the civil rights of Americans. And you can watch a documentary about him.

Senior Status

Being a judge is one of the few jobs where sitting on the bench for decades is celebrated. It's also one of the few jobs where sitting on the bench means you're taking an active role.

Although Judge Keith has served on the appellate bench since 1977, he has been on senior status since 1995. Over the last few decades he has only been handling a handful of cases each year, though that has not stopped him from continuing to write pro-civil rights opinions, even if that means penning a dissent.

Here's to you, judge. Keep on riding that bench!

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