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Monday, December 10, 2018

Finals Study Break: Wednesday, Dec. 13

Come out this Wednesday for a study break during finals!  Grab coffee and tasty fresh-baked donuts outside the Riesenfeld Rare Books Center.

When: Wednesday, December 12, 11:00 a.m. - 1:30 p.m.
Where: Outside the Riesenfeld Rare Books Center (N30 - on the sub-plaza past Sullivan Cafe)
What: Coffee and donuts!

Good luck on finals, and best wishes for the holidays from the Law Library!

Friday, December 7, 2018

New Acquisition: Judge Diana Murphy's Papers

The papers of Judge Diana Murphy ’74—the first woman to serve as a federal district judge in Minnesota and the first woman appointed to the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit—have been generously donated to the Law Library by her sons, John and Michael Murphy. Judge Murphy passed away in May at 84, having served as a federal judge for 38 years. She left an indelible legacy as an outstanding member of the federal judiciary and as a trailblazer and leader in the local and national legal communities. 

After completing undergraduate and graduate studies at the University of Minnesota, and raising a family at home, Diana Murphy returned to attend the Law School, where she was an editor of the Minnesota Law Review and graduated with honors. She began her legal career with the Minneapolis law firm of Lindquist & Vennum and later served as a Hennepin County judge. Murphy was appointed to the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota in 1980, and to the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals in 1994.   

On the bench, Murphy was universally lauded for her fairness, her comprehensive understanding of the issues, and her untiring efforts on behalf of law and justice. As Professor Carol Chomsky has written: “Judge Murphy stood with ordinary people against the sometimes arbitrary hand of bureaucratic decision-making.” Her career was marked by important rulings, including Lewis v. Heartland Inns (2010), a Title VII civil rights case, in which Murphy authored a panel opinion that disallowed the use of gender stereotypes to deny promotion to a woman. In Nelson v. Correctional Medical Services (2009), Murphy wrote the en banc opinion finding that shackling inmates in the late stages of labor constituted “cruel and unusual punishment.” She was also involved in key cases relating to American Indian law throughout her career, including Mille Lacs Band of Chippewa Indians v. Minnesota (1994) and Plains Commerce Bank v. Long Family Land and Cattle Company (2007).

Murphy’s service in judicial and educational organizations was exemplary as well. She was chair of the U.S. Sentencing Commission from 1999 to 2004 and chaired the 8th Circuit Gender Fairness Implementation Committee. She served on the board of directors of the Federal Judges Association, as its president from 1989 to 1991, and as chair of the American Judicature Society. She was active in the American Bar Association and served on the Minnesota Constitutional Study Commission and board of governors of the Minnesota State Bar Association. Beyond the bench, Judge Murphy served as chair of the board of regents of St. John’s University, trustee of the University of Saint Thomas, national president of the University of Minnesota Alumni Association, and trustee of the University of Minnesota Foundation. Murphy also received numerous honors during her career: she was named a fellow of the American Bar Foundation, received the Edward J. Devitt Distinguished Service to Justice Award, and was named Honoree of the Year by the National Association of Women Judges, among many others.

The papers that the Law Library has received constitute a full record of Murphy’s career on the 8th Circuit bench. The large collection includes case files, conference notes, annotations, memoranda, and other correspondence between judges; subject and other files related to Murphy’s judicial service—including her work on the Sentencing Commission—and documents reflecting a wide range of her civic service. 

“The Law Library is very grateful to be able to add Judge Murphy’s papers to its collections,” said Professor Joan Howland, associate dean for information and technology and director of the Library. “They offer a fascinating window into the working life and judicial thinking of a pioneering woman jurist during an important era in recent legal history. In addition to its value for studying Judge Murphy’s career, the collection represents a rich trove for the study of the federal judiciary, and will be of great benefit to future students and scholars.”

In spring 2019, the Library will mount an exhibit commemorating the career and legacy of Judge Murphy and highlighting achievements of women in the law, drawing from the new collection of papers and from the Library’s extensive archives and special collections.  

  - Ryan Greenwood, Curator of Rare Books and Special Collections