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University of Iowa News Release


Oct. 11, 2007

Iowa Law Review honors late federal judge and UI alumnus Donald P. Lay

The life and accomplishments of the late Judge Donald P. Lay, a University of Iowa graduate who went on to become one of the youngest federal appeals court judges in U.S. history, is memorialized in the most recent issue of the Iowa Law Review.

Lay died in April at his home in suburban St. Paul, Minn., at the age of 80. He had received his bachelor's degree from UI in 1949 and his law degree from the UI College of Law in 1951.

Lay was appointed to the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals in 1966 by President Lyndon Johnson. He served as chief judge from 1980 until his retirement in 1992, and continued to serve as senior judge until his death.

The issue features 10 tributes from Lay's friends, colleagues and former clerks. Among them is John Paul Stevens, associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court; William Webster, former director of the CIA and FBI; Gerald Heaney, retired federal appeals court judge and one-time colleague of Lay's on the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals; and N. William Hines, professor and dean emeritus of the UI College of Law.

Contributors praised Lay's passionate defense of individual rights and liberties throughout his 40-year career as a judge. Among the noteworthy cases they cite in their accolades that he participated in as an appeals court judge are:

--Jenson v. Eveleth Taconite Mining, one of the first federal cases to recognize that harassment of female employees was unconstitutional, and a case that was the basis for the movie "North Country."

--McDonnell Douglas Corp. v. Green, which laid out the first federal standards for racial discrimination in employment.

--Bishop v. Colaw, which made it illegal for school dress codes to stipulate the length of a student's hair.

They also commented on Lay's love of outdoors and sports.

"As a judge, Don Lay was once one of the youngest, once one of the most-senior, and always one of the most respected by his colleagues in the federal judiciary," Stevens, the U.S. Supreme Court justice, writes in his tribute. "As a friend, he was always excellent company and tolerant of less skilled golfers."

The tributes are published in volume 92, number 5 of the Iowa Law Review, copies of which can be requested by calling 319-335-9132 or by e-mailing

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Service, 300 Plaza Centre One, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500

MEDIA CONTACTS: Alison Guernsey, Iowa Law Review, 319-335-9132,; Tom Snee, University News Services, 319-384-0010,