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Tag: birthday

Detroit Federal Judge Avern Cohn Turns 90 But Still ‘Sharp as a Tack’

Judge Avern Cohn (Photo by Harold White)
By Allan Lengel
Deadline Detroit

DETROIT — U.S. District Judge Avern Cohn’s second-floor courtroom in downtown Detroit is normally a sobering place where drama unfolds and lawyers do battle.

Judge Avern Cohn (left) poses at his birthday party in the courthouse with Appeals Court Judge Damon Keith (Photo by Harold White)

But on Wednesday, all was different. There was plenty joy in the air. Lawyers and judges, friends and family, reporters and court workers and a group of his former law clerks and staff filled the cavernous room to celebrate a milestone birthday: His 90th. There were soft drinks and little desserts and abundance of smiles and laughter.

Cohn moves these days a little slower than in the past, and certainly more so than in 1979 when he was appointed to the bench by President Jimmy Carter. But Cohn, who has always been considered one of the shining legal minds in the courthouse, continues to display his sharpness and wit.

“The judge’s body may be 90, but his mind is 35 and sharp as a tack,” says defense attorney Robert Morgan, a former federal prosecutor. “He’s also the most voracious reader of pleadings, books, magazines and news articles of anyone I’ve ever known.”

At the party, he told the crowd that his relationship with his secretary Lori Van Hove is based on a “need to know basis. She tells me what I need to know.” 

The day after the party, Cohn told Deadline Detroit that he has no intention of slowing down even though he has taken senior status and is getting on in years.  Most judges with that status take a lighter load, though according to the Oakland County Legal News, Cohn isn’t alone. He’s one of 30 district judges 90 or over in the country on senior status who still take a full load.

He says he gets the same number of cases as the other judges, but adds: 

“The only reason I’m slowing down is because we’re all getting less cases.”

Chief U.S. District Judge Gerald Rosen told the Oakland Legal News:

“At 90 years old, Judge Cohn remains what he has been for more than three-and-a-half decades – a vital force in the life of our court family, and the conscience of the court. He continues to preside over a full criminal and civil docket with a razor-sharp mind, astute intellect, and remarkable energy and enthusiasm. He is an institution on our court, and is admired, respected and beloved by his colleagues and our staff.”

Does Cohn still enjoy the job after all these years?

“I never use the word enjoy” when talking about the bench, he said. “I get great satisfaction. Enjoy isn’t a word that a judge should use.”

 

Ohio Feds Seek Death Penalty in One of Cleveland’s Deadliest Fires

clevelandBy Glynnesha Taylor
ticklethewire.com

Federal prosecutors in Ohio are taking the unusual step and seeking the federal death penalty against a convicted drug dealer accused of setting off one of the deadliest fires in Cleveland’s history, according to the Associated Press.

Federal authorities are taking aim at Antun Lewis, 26, who is accused of breaking into the three-story home on May 21, 2005, of Medeia Carter, 33, and pouring gasoline on the first floor while her son was having a sleepover for his 14th birthday, the AP reported. The fire killed Carter and eight children between the ages of 7 to 15 including her son.

Prosecutors said the fact the rented home was paid for with federal Section 8 money allowed them to seek the federal death penalty, AP reported. Atty. General Eric Holder Jr. gave the final approval. The defense,which insists Lewis is innocent and would never have harmed the family, wants the Justice Department to reverse that decision.

Trial is set for Sept. 1.

Very few have ever been executed under the federal death penalty. One of the last three people who have been put to death in a federal case included Oklahoma City Bomber Timothy McVeigh, who died by lethal injection on June 11, 2001.

Most federal death penalty cases involve the killing of a federal agent, interstate kidnapping, international drug rings or terrorism, AP reported.

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

Blago Jury Enters 6th Day of Deliberations

Rod Blagojevich/from his website

Rod Blagojevich/from his website

UPDATE: Wed. 10:46 p.m. — Jurors failed to reach a verdict Wednesday. Thursday will mark the 7th day of deliberations.
By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

No surprise that federal jurors in the Rod Blagojevich corruption trial haven’t reached a verdict yet after five days considering they have 24 counts to sift through.

Wednesday will mark the start of the sixth day of deliberations. Don’t be surprised if a verdict doesn’t come til Friday at the earliest, and more likely, next week.

The Chicago Sun-Times reports that 11 of counts center around an alleged plan to sell the senate seat vacated by President Obama.

Also on Wednesday, attorneys in the case will meet with the judge to talk about the possibility of jurors considering seizing Blago’s property if he’s found guilty, the Associated Press reported.

Meanwhile, Sun-Times columnist Michael Sneed reports that the ex-governor spent Tuesday celebrating his daughter Amy’s 15th birthday.

“The family is being very low key and pretty much staying behind closed doors,”a source said, according to Sneed. “Rod is still jogging, he is not writing a book about his trial experience and other than talking to his lawyers . . . no friends are visiting. After all, all his friends testified against him.”