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Published June 10 2013

Forum editorial: ‘Lawyer’s lawyer’ passes on

Family, friends and colleagues from across the nation will say a final farewell today in Fargo to U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Frank Magill. The Fargo jurist died last week at age 86. His career as an attorney and federal judge is a tribute to him and to the community he called home.

Magill was appointed to the appeals court in 1986 by President Ronald Reagan. He’d been working for about 30 years for the Fargo law firm of Nilles, Hanson and Davies, and subsequently served 11 years as an active judge on the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which covers seven states from Missouri to the Dakotas. Recognized as a no-nonsense student of the law, Magill was involved with several high-profile cases during his tenure.

Known by family and colleagues as a lawyer’s lawyer, Magill continued hearing cases after his active status with the court ended. During his senior status years he sat on courts in Philadelphia, New York and Richmond, Va. He had to quit that work as his illness advanced in 2008 and 2009.

A man of high standards, and a man who loved the law, he transmitted those qualities to some of his children, who have made their mark in law and in legal education. It’s a marvelous legacy.

North Dakota has been fortunate to have had several prominent lawyers distinguish themselves on the appeals court. Magill was among them. We join his family, friends and colleagues in celebrating his life.


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Forum editorials represent the opinion of Forum management and the newspaper’s Editorial Board.