Daniel M. Friedman ’40
July 6, 2011
Daniel M. Friedman ’40, was a distinguished federal judge and beloved mentor whose career in public service spanned seven decades. He passed away on July 6, 2011, at the age of 95.
Born in New York City, Friedman launched his long career in government by joining the legal staff of the Securities and Exchange Commission in 1942. But he was promptly shipped off to Europe with the Army, finishing his service in 1946. In 1951, Friedman moved to the appellate section of the Justice Department’s antitrust division, and later served as the second assistant and first deputy at the solicitor general’s office. In 1977, a year before he joined the federal bench, he was appointed acting solicitor general.
Friedman, who argued 80 cases before the Supreme Court, including numerous antitrust cases, was appointed chief judge at the U.S. Court of Claims in 1978 after more than 30 years in government service. He was reassigned to the newly created U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in 1982 and granted senior status
there in 1989. Friedman was the last of the court’s original roster of judges when he passed away.
Professor Richard B. Stone, who worked for Friedman at the solicitor general’s office, described him as a great example of a generation that saw some of its preeminent legal minds devote their careers to public service. “The beautiful dinner party that the justices hosted in the Supreme Court to celebrate Danny’s appointment to the Court of Claims was an eloquent testimony to the Court’s regard for him,” Stone said.
Friedman was admired for his ability to distill complex arguments into a lucid narrative, and for his teaching acumen. “I never had a better writing mentor, and have met few gentler souls,” said Professor Peter L. Strauss, who spent three years as an attorney at the solicitor general’s office when Friedman was first deputy there.
The learning curve was steep for Friedman’s clerks, said Richard L. Mattiaccio ’78, a partner at Squire Sanders in New York City who clerked for Friedman during the judge’s first year on the bench. “The extent of his edits might have been ego-crushing for the clerk, but Judge Friedman would go through and explain them, and they usually had to do with his concern for the reader—the law had to be clear,” Mattiaccio said.
Friedman always gave his clerks the chance to defend their positions, Mattiaccio said. “If he didn’t agree with it, he would explain why, and he always did that in a good-natured way,” he said. “Those sessions were the best.”
Friedman is survived by four stepchildren from his second marriage—Elizabeth “Buffy” Ellis, Jonathan Ellis, Benjamin Ellis, and Nancy Ellis—as well as nine grandchildren.