Federal Judge Martin Feldman dead at the age of 87; legal community praises his legacy

Feldman died a day before his 88th birthday
Published: Jan. 27, 2022 at 6:31 PM CST
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Judge Martin Feldman died at the age of 87 after nearly 40 years on the federal court in New...
Judge Martin Feldman died at the age of 87 after nearly 40 years on the federal court in New Orleans, La.(Source: WVUE)

NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Judge Martin Feldman who served on the bench at the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana is being remembered as a giant in the legal community. Feldman died Wednesday night at the 87, one day before his 88th birthday.

The American flag outside the federal court building in New Orleans is at half-mast in honor of Feldman who was the second longest serving active federal district court judge in the U.S., according to the court.

As Feldman did in life, in death his legacy commands respect.

Chief Federal Court Judge Nannette Jolivette Brown issued the following statement on Feldman’s death and legacy:

“Judge Feldman has had a long, distinguished, and honorable career as a lawyer and as a jurist.” He willingly shared his knowledge and experience mentoring every new district judge appointed to this court. Sitting alongside him on the bench, while he was training you was a rite of passage for new judges. Once you earned his love and respect, he always supported you and was there for you. He will be so deeply and sorely missed. However, he leaves a long legacy of accomplishments and friendships.”

Feldman was nominated by President Ronald Reagan on September 9, 1983, and was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on October 4, 1983. The court says in addition to serving as a district federal court judge, Feldman was designated by U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Roberts to serve as one of the judges on the United States Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court from 2010 to 2017.

Feldman attended Tulane University as an undergrad and also graduated from Tulane’s law school. Before getting his law degree, he served as a U.S. Army Reserve Captain, Jag Court from 1957 to 1963.

Harry Rosenberg is a veteran attorney and former U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District which covers the New Orleans area.

“Without a doubt, he will be sorely missed. He was a great jurist, he was always sharp on the law, he was a quintessential dresser, and he kept every lawyer on his or her toes when you were in that courtroom, without question you had to be prepared because you knew he was going to be prepared,” said Rosenberg.

Joe Raspanti is a longtime attorney and legal analyst for FOX 8.

“He was a legend. I mean he was tougher than a $2 steak, but when you tried cases in there and I’ve tried quite a few, he made you a better lawyer because you needed to know the facts, the law, the rules of evidence and you didn’t he would call you on it,” said Raspanti.

Raspanti spoke about Feldman’s wit.

“He enjoyed the banter and by-play and once he got comfortable with you as a lawyer he started having fun with you and it was really, it made trying cases in there fun and exciting but you needed to be prepared,” said Raspanti.

Even after serving on the bench for nearly 40 years, Feldman did not reduce his workload.

“He never took senior status which is where you step back and still get paid but you have like a lot less cases, allotted to you. He never did that, he was 88 years old tomorrow, and the guy was still getting all his cases and showing up for work every day,” said Raspanti.

Rosenberg said Feldman was committed to his judgeship.

“He was a workaholic, I say next to his love for the law and his love for the church, the two kept him fully occupied but he was one of the longest serving district judges in the country,” said Rosenberg.

Feldman’s office said he passed away at Touro Infirmary of a heart attack. And an assistant said Feldman was in the hospital for pneumonia when he had the heart attack.

Among the many cases on his docket is that of New Orleans D.A. Jason Williams.

“They all get randomly reallotted to all the other judges on that bench,” said Raspanti.

And with the passing of Judge Feldman it will be up to President Joe Biden to nominate someone to fill the vacancy on the court.

“I’m sure there’s already campaign started of people who want to fill that slot, it’s a cherished spot but frankly, I think the time of today is to focus on Judge Feldman, I even wore a bow tie thinking of him because that’s what you always thought about. He had the bow tie that was tied perfectly unlike mine, but he just enjoyed what he was doing and that was great to see,” said Rosenberg.

Feldman is survived by a son and a daughter. Memorial and funeral arrangements are pending, said his staff.

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