Jesse E. Eschbach

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Jesse Ernest Eschbach (October 26, 1920 - October 25, 2005) was a judge of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Indiana and a judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.

Born in Warsaw, Indiana, Eschbach graduated from Indiana University in 1943 and served in the Navy during World War II. He graduated from the Indiana University School of Law - Bloomington in 1949 and worked for the United States Office of Price Stabilization in 1951. Before his appointment to the federal bench, he practiced law in Warsaw and served as Warsaw city attorney and as a deputy prosecutor for Kosciusko, County.

A Republican, Eschbach was appointed to the federal district bench in Fort Wayne by President John F. Kennedy, a Democrat, in 1962. In 1981, he was elevated to the Seventh Circuit by President Ronald Reagan, a Republican, to replace Judge Luther M. Swygert who had assumed senior status. Eschbach himself assumed senior status in 1985 and retired October 1, 2000.

One of Eschbach's most controversial decisions as a district judge was in the case of Sparkman v. McFarlin, Civ. No. F 75-129 (ND Ind., May 13, 1976), in which he held that a DeKalb County judge who ordered the sterilization of a young woman without appointing a guardian ad litem to protect her interests or holding a hearing to take evidence in her case could not be sued for damages. Eschbach's decision was upheld by the United States Supreme Court in Stump v. Sparkman, 435 U.S. 349 (1978), now the leading American decision on judicial immunity. Eschbach received national attention in 1981 when he sentenced former Secretary of Agriculture Earl Butz to 30 days in federal prison for tax fraud. During the air traffic controllers' strike the same year, he ordered controllers in Fort Wayne to continue working.