Detroit Federal Judge Avern Cohn, 95, Stepping Down After 40 Years

December 20, 2019, 3:59 PM by  Allan Lengel

U.S. District Judge Avern Cohn celebrates his 95th birthday in July. 

U.S. District Judge Avern Cohn, a fixture on the Detroit bench for 40 years, and a mentor to fellow judges, is stepping down from the bench, the court announced Friday.

"After 40 years of service and at the age of 95 it is time to pass on my responsibilities to others," Cohn said in a statement issued by the court.  "Most judicial systems have a mandatory retirement age. While I don't believe in mandatory retirement, there comes a time in the course of one's work that they retire and let their work be borne by younger persons."

Cohn, a voracious reader of news, has long been regarded as one of the brighter legal minds on the federal bench in Detroit. Over the many years, he presided over a number of high-profile cases including the lawsuit involving the inventor of the intermittent windshield wiper and 36th District Court Judge Leon Jenkins, one of several Detroit judges who were indicted for bribery in the late 1980s as a result of an FBI sting at a party store behind the Fox Theatre.

He was regarded as a fair sentencer. 

"Judge Cohn is a valued, valuable and beloved member of our bench, a mentor and friend to me and others,” Chief U.S. District Judge Denise Page Hood said in a statement. "I hold him in the highest regard."

Nearly two dozen of Cohn's criminal cases were reassigned on the blind draw to other judges last week. The rest of his criminal and civil dockets will be reassigned the same way in coming days, a press release said. 

Cohn said it will take some time to close his chambers at the courthouse on West Lafayette Boulevard in downtown Detroit.

Cohn was appointed to the bench by President Jimmy Carter in 1979.

Before becoming a judge, he was a partner at the Detroit law firm of Honigman, Miller, Schwartz and Cohn. 

He took senior status -- which normally means semi-retirement with a reduced caseload -- in October 1999. Instead, until now, Cohn continued with a full caseload.

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