Hand, (Billings) Learned

Hand, (Billings) Learned

(born Jan. 27, 1872, Albany, N.Y., U.S.—died Aug. 18, 1961, New York, N.Y.) U.S. jurist. He attended Harvard University, where he studied philosophy (under William James, Josiah Royce, and George Santayana) and law; thereafter he practiced law in Albany and New York City. In 1909 he was appointed a federal district judge, and in 1924 he was elevated to the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, becoming chief judge in 1939. He sat in many cases after his official retirement in 1951. His 52-year tenure on the federal bench (from 1909 to his death in 1961) represents a record. Several of his decisions, especially in the antitrust suit known as the Alcoa case (1945) and in a 1950 case involving charges of communist conspiracy, are considered landmarks. Although he never reached the Supreme Court of the United States, his reputation surpasses that of all but a few who have sat there.

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