George Hugo Boldt

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George Hugo Boldt (December 28, 1903 – March 18, 1984) was a United States federal judge.

Early and family life[edit]

Boldt was born in Chicago, Illinois. He received a B.A. from the University of Montana in 1925. He received an LL.B. from the University of Montana School of Law in 1926.[1] Judge Boldt was a lifelong member of the Sigma Chi fraternity and even served as a Grand Trustee for 6 years, 1957-1963.


After becoming admitted to the Montana bar, Boldt spent a year in private practice in Helena, Montana, from 1926 to 1927, before moving to Seattle, Washington where he practiced law from 1928 to 1945.

His public service career began in World War II, where Boldt first served as a Washington State special deputy attorney general in 1940, and then joined the United States Army, where he served in military intelligence (primarily concerning China, India and Burma) from 1942 to 1945, where he rose to the rank of lieutenant colonel. He then returned to Washington state and served as special deputy attorney general from 1946 to 1947. Boldt then became a special prosecuting attorney of Pierce County, Washington from 1948 to 1949. Both these positions were part-time, so Boldt also had a private legal practice in Tacoma, Washington from 1946 to 1953.

President Dwight D. Eisenhower nominated Boldt on June 10, 1953, to become a judge on the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington, to a seat vacated by Charles H. Leavy. The United States Senate confirmed him on July 14, 1953, and he received his commission the same day. He served as chief judge from 1971-1971. On October 22, 1971, President Richard M. Nixon appointed him chairman of the Pay Board, an agency established within the Executive Office under the Economic Stabilization Program.[1] Boldt's most famous (as well as controversial) decision was his opinion in United States v. Washington (1974), which upheld tribal fishing rights under several treaties.[2][3]

Death and legacy[edit]

Judge Boldt suffered from Alzheimer's disease during his final years, and died on March 18, 1984 at the Veteran's home in Lakewood, Washington, survived by his wife, three children, eight grandchildren and a great-grandchild.[4] A decade after his death, the tribes sought to access his medical records to determine whether he suffered from the disease while he oversaw the fishing rights case, but were denied.[5] The tribes celebrated the 40th anniversary of his fishing rights ruling in February, 2014.[6]



Legal offices
Preceded by
Charles H. Leavy
Judge of the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington
Succeeded by
Morell Edward Sharp