J. Skelly Wright
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J. Skelly Wright

James Skelly Wright (January 14, 1911 - August 6, 1988) was a United States Circuit Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit and previously was a United States District Judge of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana.

Education and career

Born on January 14, 1911, in New Orleans, Louisiana, Wright received a Bachelor of Philosophy in 1931 from Loyola University New Orleans and a Juris Doctor in 1934 from Loyola University New Orleans College of Law. He was a high school teacher in New Orleans from 1932 to 1936. He was a lecturer at Loyola University New Orleans from 1936 to 1937. He was an Assistant United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Louisiana from 1937 to 1942 and again from 1945 to 1946. He was a United States Coast Guard lieutenant commander from 1942 to 1945. He was in private practice in Washington, D.C. from 1946 to 1948.[1] He was the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Louisiana from 1948 to 1949.[2] He was faculty at the Loyola University of New Orleans College of Law from 1950 to 1962.[1]

Eastern District of Louisiana

Wright received a recess appointment from President Harry S. Truman on October 21, 1949, to a seat on the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana vacated by Judge Wayne G. Borah. He was nominated to the same position by President Truman on January 5, 1950. He was confirmed by the United States Senate on March 8, 1950, and received his commission on March 9, 1950. His service terminated on April 15, 1962, due to elevation to the District of Columbia Circuit.[1]

During his service with the Eastern District of Louisiana, Wright was an important leader during the New Orleans school desegregation crisis. Wright's first desegregation order had been for the Louisiana State University Law School in 1951. His vigorous enforcement of Brown v. Board of Education (1954), however, made him many enemies amongst the predominantly white political and business culture of New Orleans to the extent that his entire family was soon ostracized and isolated from much of New Orleans' society life.[3]

D.C. Circuit Court

Wright was nominated by President John F. Kennedy on February 2, 1962, to a seat on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit vacated by Judge E. Barrett Prettyman. He was confirmed by the Senate on March 28, 1962, and received his commission on March 30, 1962. He served as Chief Judge from 1978 to 1981. He served as a Judge of the Temporary Emergency Court of Appeals from 1981 to 1987, serving as Chief Judge from 1982 to 1987. He assumed senior status on June 1, 1986.

Notable cases

Death and legacy

His service terminated on August 6, 1988, due to his death in the Westmoreland Hills neighborhood of Bethesda, Maryland.[1] Justice William J. Brennan Jr. wrote a memoriam for Judge Wright in the Harvard Law Review.[7]

Wright is recognized for exerting a major influence on the American law of landlord-tenant. Several of his decisions on the D.C. Circuit helped modernize landlord-tenant jurisdprudence by incorporating consumer protection principles long accepted in contract law.[8]

The J. Skelly Wright Professorship at Yale Law School is named in his honor.[9]

Notable former clerks


  1. ^ a b c d James Skelly Wright at the Biographical Directory of Federal Judges, a public domain publication of the Federal Judicial Center.
  2. ^ "United States Attorneys for the Eastern District of Louisiana - USAO-EDLA - Department of Justice". www.justice.gov.
  3. ^ Judge James Skelly Wright. http://www.tulanelink.com/tulanelink/skellywright_box.htm, accessed November 21, 2006.
  4. ^ James Wright. Answers.com. West's Encyclopedia of American Law, The Gale Group, Inc, 1998. http://www.answers.com/topic/james-wright, accessed November 22, 2006.
  5. ^ 428 F.2d 1071.
  6. ^ Retaliatory eviction
  7. ^ Brennan, William J.; Wald, Patricia M.; Parker, Richard; Monroe, Bill (1988). "In Memoriam: J. Skelly Wright". Harvard Law Review. 102 (2): 361-374. JSTOR 1341383.
  8. ^ https://digitalcommons.lsu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=3651&context=gradschool_disstheses
  9. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2010-07-26. Retrieved .CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)


External links

Legal offices
Preceded by
Wayne G. Borah

Succeeded by
Frank Burton Ellis
Preceded by
E. Barrett Prettyman

Succeeded by
Douglas H. Ginsburg
Preceded by
David L. Bazelon

Succeeded by
Carl E. McGowan

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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