The Honorable M. Blane Michael, a judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit and one of the most illustrious members of West Virginia’s legal community, died yesterday. Here is the story in the Saturday Gazette-Mail and his biography on the Fourth Circuit’s website. The Washington Post has this story from the Associated Press.
Judge Michael received his undergraduate degree from West Virginia University, where he was student body president, and got his law degree from New York University. To say he then enjoyed a varied and interesting career is an understatement.
Following his graduation from law school in 1968, he was in private practice in New York City, then served as an AUSA for the Southern District of New York. He came back to West Virginia in 1972, where he was an special AUSA for the Northern District of West Virginia. He was in private practice in Petersburg, West Virginia from 1973-75, then clerked for Judge Robert Maxwell of the Northern District of West Virginia from 1975-76. Judge Michael became counsel for Governor Jay Rockefeller in 1977 and served in that position until 1980. He returned to private practice in Charleston with Jackson Kelly PLLC from 1981 until 1993, when President Clinton nominated him to the Fourth Circuit. Judge Michael received his commission on October 1, 1993.
During one my summers while in law school (in the early 1980s), I interned in a congressional office. Judge Michael was suggested to me as someone who could provide some advice or direction on how to combine a legal career with an interest in politics. Even though I didn’t know him, I called him. While I remember that his advice was that working in a governor’s office offered the best opportunity to combine the two, what I remember much more was his willingness to talk to and assist someone whom he didn’t know. Even though I didn’t follow that career path, I have never forgotten his kindness in talking to me.
I invite anyone who wants to share a memory or reminiscence of Judge Michael to leave a comment.