Robinson O. Everett

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Robinson O. Everett (March 18, 1928 – June 12, 2009) was an American lawyer, judge and a professor of law at Duke University.

Everett was born in Durham, North Carolina, to a family of lawyers: his grandfather and both of his parents being noted North Carolina attorneys. His father, Reuben Oscar Everett, was one of the first five law students at Duke and practiced law for 66 years until his death, in his law office, at age 92. His mother, Kathrine Everett, was one of the first women to graduate from the University of North Carolina School of Law, where she ranked at the head of her class and was the first woman to argue and win a case before the North Carolina Supreme Court. She practiced for 70 years, retiring at the age of 97. In 1954, the Everetts were the first family of lawyers sworn in together to the bar of the Supreme Court of the United States.

Robinson O. Everett graduated magna cum laude in 1947 from Harvard University, at age 19. At Harvard Law School he was on the Harvard Law Review, graduating magna cum laude in 1950. He received his Master of Laws from Duke University School of Law. He was admitted to the North Carolina bar and joined the Duke's law school faculty that same year at age twenty-two, and holds the record as the youngest faculty member in Duke's history. He earned a master of laws degree from Duke in 1959. In over fifty years of teaching at Duke (as well as at the University of North Carolina School of Law and Wake Forest University School of Law), Everett regularly taught courses in criminal law, criminal procedure, law and national defense and military law.

During the Korean War Everett joined the United States Air Force, where he was assigned to the Judge Advocate General's Corps. He was appointed by President Jimmy Carter to the serve as a senior judge for the Court of Appeals for the Armed Services and as a Commissioner and then Chief Judge for the United States Court of Military Appeals (now the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces) from 1980 until 1990. He was the author of the textbook Military Justice in the Armed Forces of the United States, and of numerous articles on military law, criminal procedure, evidence and other legal topics. During 1961 to 1964 Everett served part-time as counsel to the Subcommittee on Constitutional Rights of the United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary, which led to the enactment of the Military Justice Act of 1968. He was the founder of the Center on Law, Ethics, and National Security at the Duke University School of Law.

As an attorney, Everett practiced in the following areas of law: administrative law; civil and criminal appeals; commercial real property; commercial litigation; construction litigation; zoning and land use regulation. Everett was also actively involved in redistricting litigation. As both counsel and plaintiff, he twice successfully challenged in the U.S. Supreme Court congressional districts drawn by the North Carolina General Assembly which violated the constitutional principle of racial neutrality.

He was active in bar and professional associations, having served as president of the Durham County, North Carolina Bar Association; as a member of the North Carolina State Bar Council; as both a member and chair of the American Bar Association's Standing Committee on Military Law; and as a member of the Advisory Committee on the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure and Evidence. He was a life member of the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws and the American Law Institute. He was a Fellow of the American Bar Foundation and a director of the American Judicature Society.

In 1993 he received the Charles S. Murphy Award for public service from the Duke Law Alumni Association. In 2000 he received the ABA's Morris I. Liebman Award. He was also the recipient of the Professionalism Award from the Chief Justice's Committee on Professionalism. He was the first recipient of the Judge Advocates Association’s life service award, which is incidentally named after him. He received the John J. Parker Memorial Award from the North Carolina Bar Association in 2004.

Everett is survived by his wife, Lynn McGregor Everett, their three sons, Rob, Jr., Greg, and Luke, and two grandchildren. Everett stayed actively involved in teaching law at Duke and in private practice until his death. The family legal tradition will not abate anytime soon as two of his three sons and one of his daughters-in-law recently graduated from the University of North Carolina School of Law and work in private practice.

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