Moritz College of Law The Ohio State University
This Month @ Moritz

Judge James L. Graham '62 Honored with College's Distinguished Jurist Award

Judge GrahamA Columbus, Ohio native, Judge Graham received both his Bachelor of Arts degree and his Juris Doctor degree from The Ohio State University. After graduating from the Moritz College of Law, he spent 24 years as a trial lawyer, specializing in civil litigation, at his firm of Graham, Dutro & Nemeth. During that time, he wrote and lectured extensively on trial practice, tort law and civil procedure. He also served as a member and as chair of the Ohio Board of Bar Examiners.

Nominated by then-President Ronald Reagan for appointment to the federal judiciary, he was confirmed as U.S. District Judge for the Southern District of Ohio in November of 1986. He was elevated to Chief Judge last October.

Lawyers consistently use words like "brilliant," "scholarly" and "knowledgeable" in their evaluations of Judge Graham. He has the courage to stake out a position and defend it, and the ability to communicate complicated issues clearly. Judge William T. Bodoh '64, recently retired from the U.S. Bankruptcy Court of the Northern District of Ohio, calls Judge Graham an "exemplar of personal integrity," and noted in his nomination letter, "the hallmark of appearing in his court is the assurance that he provides fair treatment for every person or entity that appears before him."

Judge Graham's most recent service to the Moritz College was to co-teach an intensive one-week course, Process of Judging and Clerking, to give Moritz students an insider's view of the unique challenges judges and clerks face, with fellow clerkship advocate Professor Douglas A. Berman. He wanted to cultivate a vision in the minds of students who want to become judges. "I decided early on that becoming a judge was something I wanted to do, and I would like to plant a seed in the minds of my students to do the same."

His view of the important role the judiciary plays in our democracy is revealed in these words, from a citizenship naturalization ceremony in 2002, when he said to the new citizens that "the greatness of this country lies in its commitment to freedom and justice — a system of government in which the voice of every citizen can be heard whether he or she has been a citizen for his or her entire life, or for just a few hours." Judge James L. Graham's personal integrity and commitment to fairness, freedom and equality epitomize the highest ideals of the judiciary.

Previous Recipients of the Distinguished Jurist Award, established in 2000:

William K. Thomas '35
U.S. District Court, Northern District of Ohio

David A. Katz '57
U.S. District Court, Northern District of Ohio

William T. Bodoh '64
U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Northern District of Ohio