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Harold R. Medina ’09

Published in Sept. 12, 1990, issue

FEDERAL JUDGE Harold R. Medina, the University's oldest alumnus and one of its most distinguished graduates, died on March 14, 1990. A man of enormous energy, humor, and ability, Harold Medina had a love affair with life for 102 years. We shall miss him.

Born in Brooklyn in 1888, judge Medina graduated from Princeton Phi Beta Kappa in 1909 and from Columbia Law School in 1912. Harold then embarked on an extraordinary, multifaceted career, during which he was a successful trial attorney, a member of the Columbia Law School faculty, and the author of many law treatises.

Medina was appointed to the federal bench in 1947 by President Truman. He became a national folk hero in 1949 after presiding over a nine-month trial of 11 Communist leaders charged under the Smith Act with conspiring to overthrow the U.S. by force. He succeeded Learned Hand on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. After becoming a Senior judge in 1958, he remained a busy, productive member of his court for another 22 years, until his retirement in 1980 at age 92.

Judge Medina loved Princeton as fiercely as it loved him. He served as a trustee, was a class officer for almost five decades (during most of which he was '09's "permanent president"), and received an honorary degree from the University. The Archivist's Room in Mudd Library is named in his honor.

Harold's beloved Ethel, whom he married in 1911, died in 1971. He is survived by his sons Harold Jr. '34 and Standish '37; his six grandchildren, Harold III '60, Standish Forde Jr. '62, Robert '62, Jeremy '64, Meredith Medina Murray and Ann Medina; and by 10 great-grandchildren, including Tracy Medina '90, to all of whom the wonderful Class of 1909 extends its most sincere and heartfelt sympathy. The Class is no more.

The Class of 1909

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Raymond H. Medina Says:

2009-11-05 16:43:52

I have read his bio some time ago, and I recall that his father was Mexican, while his mother, Anglo American. Doesn't this mean that he was the first Hispanic to ascend to the post of federal judge? Please clarify. Thank you.
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