Harold Medina

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Harold Medina
Senior Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
In office
March 1, 1958 – February 22, 1980
Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
In office
June 23, 1951 – March 1, 1958
Nominated by Harry S. Truman
Preceded by Learned Hand
Succeeded by Henry Friendly
Judge of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York
In office
June 20, 1947 – June 23, 1951
Nominated by Harry S. Truman
Preceded by Samuel Mandelbaum
Succeeded by Thomas Francis Murphy
Personal details
Born Harold Raymond Medina
(1888-02-16)February 16, 1888
Brooklyn, New York
Died March 14, 1990(1990-03-14) (aged 102)
Westwood, New Jersey
Children Harold Medina, Jr., Standish Medina

Harold Raymond Medina Sr. (February 16, 1888 – March 14, 1990) was an American lawyer, teacher and judge who is most noted for hearing landmark cases of conspiracy and treason.

A resident of a nursing home in Westwood, New Jersey, Medina died in 1990 at the age of 102 at Pascack Valley Hospital.[1]

Early life[edit]

Medina was born in Brooklyn, New York[2] to Joaquin Adolfo Medina and Elizabeth Fash Medina.[3] His father was a naturalized United States citizen from Mérida, Yucatán, Mexico, and his mother from New York City of Dutch ancestry.[3] Medina graduated from Holbrook Military Academy in Ossining, New York in 1905.[3] After high school, he attended Princeton University and graduated Phi Beta Kappa with an A.B. degree in 1909.[2][3] He received a L.L.B. degree from Columbia Law School, where he graduated as co-head of his class in 1912.[3] He married Ethel Forde Hillyer in 1911.

Early career[edit]

In 1912, Medina founded a private practice as an attorney in New York City, which he ran until asked to join government in 1947 as a judge. Concurrently, he founded and ran the "Medina Bar Review Course" (1912–1942). In addition, he was an associate professor at Columbia Law School (1915-1940).[4]

Federal judicial service[edit]

In 1947 President Harry S. Truman nominated Medina to serve as a federal judge in the Southern District of New York. In 1949, he presided over the trial of 11 leaders of the U.S. Communist Party charged with advocating the violent overthrow of the government. This was known as Foley Square trial. In this case, the jury found all the defendants guilty, and Medina sentenced most of them to five years in prison.[5] He also gave prison sentences to five of the defense attorneys on charges of contempt of court; among them was George William Crockett Jr., who later became a Member of Congress.

Medina presided over the year-long Investment Bankers Case in 1951-1952, an antitrust case against 17 of the most prominent Wall Street investment banking firms, known as the Wall Street Seventeen.[6][7][8] He ruled in favor of the investment banks.

Medina succeeded Learned Hand[2] on the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in 1953 and served on it until 1980, when (at age 92) he was the oldest judge still serving on the federal bench.[citation needed] He assumed senior status in 1958.

Other honors[edit]

Medina was featured on the cover of the October 24, 1949, edition of Time Magazine. [1]

In 1957, Medina received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Elizabethtown College located in Elizabethtown, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. (Source: 1957 Conestogan Yearbook, Elizabethtown College)

J. Woodford Howard, Jr., professor of political science emeritus at The Johns Hopkins University, along with Professor Patrick Schmidt of Macalester College and Professor David Yalof of the University of Connecticut, are currently completing an authorized biography of Medina.

The Harold R. Medina Professorship of Procedural Jurisprudence at Columbia University School of Law is named in Judge Medina's honor.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Staff. "Harold Medina, U.S. Judge, Dies at 102", The New York Times, March 16, 1990. Accessed October 28, 2015. "Harold R. Medina, a Federal judge for more than three decades, who achieved lasting fame for his handling of the trial of 11 Communist leaders in the 1940's, died in his sleep on Wednesday at Pascack Valley Hospital in Westwood, N.J., where he was admitted on Monday with a slight fever, his grandson Standish Forde Medina Jr. said. Judge Medina was 102 years old. Judge Medina, who retired from the bench at the age of 92, lived at the Valley Nursing Home in Westwood."
  2. ^ a b c Memorials: Harold R. Medina '09, Princeton Alumni Weekly (Sept. 12, 1990).
  3. ^ a b c d e Vile, John R. Great American Judges: An Encyclopedia. ABC-CLIO. pp. 519–529. ISBN 978-1-57607-989-8.
  4. ^ "Biographical Directory of Federal Judges: Medina, Harold Raymond". Federal Judiciary Center. Retrieved 26 November 2016.
  5. ^ National Constitution Center - Centuries of Citizenship - Harold Raymond Medina presides over trial of eleven U.S. Communist Party leaders
  6. ^ A financial history of the United States Vol. 3. M.E. Sharpe, 2002
  7. ^ Nothing Short of Criminal. Time Magazine, Mar. 17, 1952
  8. ^ Trustbusters' Retreat. Time Magazine, Dec. 3, 1951

External sources[edit]

Legal offices
Preceded by
Samuel Mandelbaum
Judge of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York
Succeeded by
Thomas Francis Murphy
Preceded by
Learned Hand
Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
Succeeded by
Henry Friendly