Charles M. Metzner ’33
November 30, 2009
Charles M. Metzner ’33 was a judge in the Southern District of New York for 50 years. He passed away on November 30, 2009, at the age of 97.
A graduate of both Columbia College and Columbia Law School, Metzner worked in private practice, spent a year with the New York City Office of the Controller, and then joined the New York State Judicial Council. Metzner also served as law secretary to a justice of the New York Supreme Court and as the executive assistant to the U.S. attorney general.
In 1959, President Dwight Eisenhower appointed Metzner to serve as a judge in the Southern District of New York, where he spent the next five decades presiding over multiple high-profile cases—including a lawsuit involving eccentric aviator Howard Hughes and Trans World Airlines. At the time, Hughes was a majority owner in the company. According to a 1963 article in The New York Times, when Trans World sued Hughes on antitrust grounds and Hughes failed to appear in court on the day he was supposed to testify, Metzner ruled against the notorious recluse, calling his absence “a willful and deliberate default.”
In addition to his service on the federal bench, Metzner was an active and generous alumnus of Columbia Law School. He supported students through the Charles M. Metzner Scholarship at the Law School and volunteered as a judge for numerous moot court competitions. Metzner was also a trustee of Columbia University.
Metzner is survived by his wife, Jeanne, three children, five grandchildren, and 10 great-grandchildren.