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The Hon. Michael J. Davis, Chief Judge, U.S. District Court, MN, To Speak At Commencement

May 6, 2009—Chief Judge Michael J. Davis (‘72) will be the 121st Law School commencement speaker at the May 16 graduation celebrations, to be held at 10 a.m. at the Northrop Memorial Auditorium, 84 Church Street SE, Minneapolis, on the East Bank of Campus.

Davis was appointed by President Clinton and took the oath of office on March 30, 1994. He became Chief Judge of the District of Minnesota on July 1, 2008. He was the first African-American Federal Judge in Minnesota.

Chief Judge Davis received a B.A. degree in Political Science from Macalester College in 1969 and a J.D. degree from the University of Minnesota Law School in 1972. After law school, he studied at the Hague Academy of International Law. He served as a criminal defense lawyer at the Neighborhood Justice Center, St. Paul, and the Legal Rights Center, Minneapolis, where he is currently a board member, and as an assistant public defender in Hennepin County. In 1983, he was appointed to the Fourth Judicial Municipal Court of Minnesota. In 1984, he was elevated, by appointment, to the District Court bench, where he served before being appointed to the federal bench in 1994.

Chief Judge Davis has been an adjunct professor at the Law School for the last 25 years. He has lectured at Oxford University, Magdalen College, and the FBI Academy in Quantico, Va. In 2006, he lectured in Cairo as part of a training program for Egyptian Judges of the Courts of First Instance regarding Intellectual Property and Injunctions.

In 1999, Chief Justice Rehnquist appointed Chief Judge Davis to the U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court for a seven-year term. In December 2001, the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation appointed him to preside over the Baycol Multidistrict Litigation, supervising pretrial matters for the claims of tens of thousands of individual plaintiffs from all 50 states.

Chief Judge Davis received the Outstanding Alumni Award from Macalester College in 1989, the Judicial Professionalism Award from the Hennepin County Bar Association in 2004, and Citizen of the Year recognition from Omega Psi Phi Fraternity in 2005.

He was president of the Minnesota Chapter of the Federal Bar Association in 2004-05, serves on the Advisory Board of the Jack Mason Law and Democracy Initiative, a project of Books for Africa, and is a member of the Sigma Pi Phi Omicron Boulé Fraternity.

For more information on the 2009 commencement, please see the 2009 Commencement Web page.

Portrait of Michael J. Davis

Chief Judge Michael J. Davis