Third Circuit Judge Leonard I. Garth passed away on Thursday. He was 95.
In the Law Journal story, Chief Judge McKee is quoted describing Judge Garth as “absolutely tenacious,” and saying, “He was in many ways the conscience of the court, right up to his passing.”
UPDATE: Orin Kerr, a Garth clerk, has this warm tribute on Volokh Conspiracy, worth reading in full but featuring this:
Judge Garth was in both attitude and demeanor a model judge. He wanted to get every case right, no matter how obscure it was, and he did cases by the book. If you listen to Richard Posner, you’ll hear that judges reach decisions that seem sensible on pragmatic grounds and then reason backwards to get there. Not Judge Garth. He was obsessed over the record and the standard of review. He checked and double-checked whether jurisdiction was proper, because if there was no jurisdiction the court had no authority to decide the case.
He also insisted that his clerks give as much attention to hand-written pro se cases as to appeals by lawyers from big firms, on the thinking that every case was equal no matter whether the party was rich or poor. Clarence Earl Gideon wrote his cert petition in pencil, the judge would remind his clerks. You never know which pro se case might be the next Gideon.