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Wilfred Feinberg Papers, 1936-2011, bulk 1960-2011

Summary Information

Abstract

The Wilfred Feinberg papers consist of over 200 linear feet of material, primarily dating from his fifty years as a judge on the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York and United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. Some highlights of the collection include rulings and case files from precedent-setting cases, Feinberg's committee work drafting the 1995 Long Range Plan for the Federal Courts, and a detailed oral history.

At a Glance

Call No.: MS#1585
Bib ID 8928418 View CLIO record
Creator(s) Feinberg, Wilfred
Title Wilfred Feinberg Papers, 1936-2011, bulk 1960-2011
Physical Description 222.71 linear feet (222.71 linear feet 220 record cartons 1 halfwidth document case 2 small artifact boxes and 1 flat box)
Language(s) English .
Access

This collection is located off-site. You will need to request this material at least three business days in advance to use the collection in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room.

This collection has no restrictions.

Arrangement

Arrangement

This collection is arranged in nine series Series I: Private Practice, 1948-1963; Series II: United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, 1961-1966 Subseries II.1: Calendars Reassigned After Court of Appeals Appointment, 1966; Subseries II.2: Case Files, 1961-1966; Subseries II.3: Electrical Cases, 1962-1966; Subseries II.4: Judicial Appointment, 1961-1962; Subseries II.5: Jury Charges, 1961-1966; Subseries II.6: Motions, 1961-1965; Subseries II.7: Opinions, 1961-1966; Series III: United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, 1955-2011 Subseries III.1: Administrative Materials, 1961-2011; Subseries III.2: Case Files, 1966-2011; Subseries III.3: En Banc Files, 1966-2011; Subseries III.4: Judges' Meetings, 1955-2011; Subseries III.5: Motions, 1993-2011; Subseries III.6: Opinions, 1965-2009; Subseries III.7: Pro Se, 1966-2008; Subseries III.8: Second Circuit Appointment, 1965-1966; Subseries III.9: Sitting Schedules and Calendars, 1966-2011; Series IV: Subject Files, 1961-2010 Subseries IV.1: General, 1962-2010; Subseries IV.2: Advisory Committee Service, 1968-2001; Subseries IV.3: Points of Law, 1961-2010; Subseries IV.4: Rules of Practice and Procedure, 1961-2010; Series V: Judicial Conference of the United States, 1974-2007 Subseries V.1: Committee to Study the Judicial Conference, 1986-1987; Subseries V.2: Judicial Conference, 1974-2007; Subseries V.3: Long Range Planning Committee, 1989-2007; Series VI: Professional Development, 1961-2011 Subseries VI.1: Bar Associations, 1961-2010; Subseries VI.2: Federal Judicial Center, 1976-2008; Subseries VI.3: Legal Societies and Professional Organizations, 1961-2011; Series VII: Articles and Speeches, 1961-2011; Series VIII: Columbia University Alumni Activity, 1959-2010 Subseries VIII.1: Columbia College, 1959-2008; Subseries VIII.2: Columbia Law School, 1962-2010; Subseries VIII.3: Columbia University, 1970-2008; Series IX: Personal, 1936-2011 Subseries IX.1: Biographical Materials, 1936-2010; Subseries IX.2: Business and Investment Activities; Subseries IX.3: Correspondence, 1952-2011; Subseries IX.4: Oral History, 1993-2005; Subseries IX.5: Photographs, 1946-2009; Subseries IX.6: Clippings and Public Relations, 1956-2004

Description

Summary

The Wilfred Feinberg papers consist of over 200 linear feet of material, primarily dating from his fifty years as a judge on the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York and United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. Some highlights of the collection include rulings and case files from precedent-setting cases, Feinberg's committee work drafting the 1995 Long Range Plan for the Federal Courts, and a detailed oral history.

  • Series I: Private Practice

    Prior to Feinberg's appointment as a federal judge in 1961, he was an attorney in private practice in New York. This series includes his official bar admissions; case files, office memoranda, and pleadings from both firms where he worked; and the substantive files of pleadings and research related to the Hudson and Manhattan Railroad Company bankruptcy and reorganization. Within each file, materials are arranged by date.

  • Series II: United States District Court for the Southern District of New York,

    This series consists of records from Feinberg's service as a district judge, before being elevated to the Second Circuit in 1966. Materials relating to his recess nomination in 1961 and official confirmation in 1962, including correspondence and photographs, are represented. One of his most notable contributions as a district judge was on the electrical equipment antitrust cases, which make up a sizable portion of the series. Also included are the court's sitting schedules and trial calendars, Feinberg's chamber case files, draft and pattern jury charges, motions heard, and rulings. This series is divided into seven subseries.

  • Series III: United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit

    This series is the largest in the collection, comprising more than half of the Feinberg material. Feinberg served on the Second Circuit from 1966 through 2011, one of the longest tenures in circuit history, including a term as Chief Judge from 1980 through 1988. He took senior status (a form of semi-retirement) in 1991 and maintained an active hearing schedule until his retirement in 2011. The heart of this series is his case files, which include a number of precedent-setting and noteworthy rulings. A list of cases of particular interest can be found in the note to Subseries III.2.

    This series is divided into nine subseries.

  • Series IV: Subject Files

    This series consists of topical material related to the functioning of the court, the court's official rules, and Feinberg's research files. It includes materials from both his district court service and his time on the appellate bench. This series includes four subseries: General; Advisory Committee Service; Points of Law; and Rules of Practice and Procedure.

  • Series V: Judicial Conference of the United States

    The Judicial Conference of the United States is charged by Congress to "serve as the principal policy-making body concerned with the administration of the U.S. Courts." Although the court system is largely decentralized, with each circuit and district having unique customs, practices, and rules, the Judicial Conference is the formal center for procedural recommendations. The Chief Justice of the United States presides over the Conference; other members include the Chief Judges of each circuit and a representative from each district and trade court. Feinberg was Chief Judge of the Second Circuit, and therefore a member of the Judicial Conference, from 1980 through 1988.

    Traditionally, each new Chief Justice begins his tenure with a study of the Judicial Conference and the court system. Upon William Rehnquist's confirmation as Chief Justice, he created the Committee to Study the Judicial Conference, which lasted for a year. Prompted by the reports of the Rehnquist Committee and the Federal Courts Study Committee, Rehnquist created the Long Range Planning Committee as the anticipated first phase in a permanent planning effort. Having served eight years as a member of the Judicial Conference, Feinberg was appointed to the Long Range Planning Committee.

    This series includes comprehensive agendas (including lengthy appendices of supplementary reports), correspondence, drafts, minutes, reports, and research. It is divided into three subseries derived from Feinberg's original filing system: Committee to Study the Judicial Conference; Judicial Conference; and Long Range Planning Committee.

  • Series VI: Professional Development

    This series includes materials relating to Feinberg's participation in professional organizations and continuing education. Records consist of conference materials, correspondence, directories, educational materials, official membership documents, reports, and workshop materials. This series is divided into three subseries: Bar Associations, Federal Judicial Center, and Legal Societies and Professional Organizations.

  • Series VII: Articles and Speeches

    This series includes Feinberg's articles and speeches, as well as correspondence and research material relating to them. In addition to correspondence, offprints, reprints, and typescripts, materials include clippings, drafts, and notes. The files of research material collect ideas for potential future topics.

    Feinberg was a prolific writer, particularly in the 1980s, and some of the topics he wrote on frequently include diversity jurisdiction, senior judges, and the history of the Second Circuit. He was also a vigorous opponent of the National Court of Appeals, a proposed restructuring of the federal judiciary that caused substantial controversy in the 1970s. Feinberg's full publications list can be found in his CV in Subseries IX.1.

    Feinberg maintained a "Jokes and Parodies" folder where he would file countless lawyer jokes clipped from Reader's Digest or sent to him by colleagues. Also in the "Jokes and Parodies" file are the song parodies that Feinberg wrote for anniversaries, birthdays, and retirements.

    Although some of Feinberg's speeches were subsequently published in law journals and magazines, this series is particularly useful for its full record of fifty years of speech transcripts. Maintaining Feinberg's original order, the transcripts of both eulogies and speeches are arranged reverse-chronologically and include yearly indexes to speeches with locations and occasions. Many of the typescripts were Feinberg's podium copy and include his notes on delivery.

  • Series VIII: Columbia University Alumni Activity

    Feinberg spent his postsecondary education at Columbia University, attending Columbia College and Columbia Law School. He is an active alumnus and this series includes more than fifty years of his involvement with Columbia University. Feinberg kept separate records of his alumni activity for the college and the law school, and that arrangement has been maintained. A third subseries consists of records relating to Columbia University more generally, including the umbrella alumni group for all Columbia schools, and material related to President Lee Bollinger and long-time law school professor Maurice Rosenberg.

  • Series IX: Personal

    This series includes a variety of unofficial and personal records. The bulk of the series is Feinberg's correspondence files, which he maintained separately from the correspondence filed elsewhere in the collection. Similarly, Feinberg maintained a general clippings file separate from the clippings filed by topic found elsewhere in the collection. Also in this series is biographical information maintained and updated by Feinberg's secretary, including publications lists. Personal material includes business records from Feinberg's charity and investment activities outside his job, an oral history of Feinberg conducted in the late 1990s, and photographs. The series is arranged in six subseries.

Using the Collection

Rare Book and Manuscript Library

Restrictions on Access

This collection is located off-site. You will need to request this material at least three business days in advance to use the collection in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room.

This collection has no restrictions.

Terms Governing Use and Reproduction

Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. The RBML maintains ownership of the physical material only. Copyright remains with the creator and his heirs. The responsibility to secure copyright permission rests with the patron.

Preferred Citation

Identification of specific item; Date (if known); Wilfred Feinberg Papers, 1936-2011; Box and Folder; Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University Library.

Selected Related Material at Other Repositories

Henry Jacob Friendly Papers, Harvard Law School Library, Harvard University.

Irving R. Kaufman Papers, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress.

Papers of the Honorable Judge James L. Oakes, Julien and Virginia Cornell Library, Vermont Law School.

About the Finding Aid / Processing Information

Columbia University Libraries, Rare Book and Manuscript Library

Processing Information

Papers processed by Caitlin Goodman in 2012.

Finding aid written by Caitlin Goodman in 12/2012.

Revision Description

2012-12-14 xml document instance created by Caitlin Goodman.

2019-05-20 EAD was imported spring 2019 as part of the ArchivesSpace Phase II migration.

Subject Headings

The subject headings listed below are found in this collection. Links below allow searches at Columbia University through the Archival Collections Portal and through CLIO, the catalog for Columbia University Libraries, as well as ArchiveGRID, a catalog that allows users to search the holdings of multiple research libraries and archives.

All links open new windows.

Genre/Form

Heading "CUL Archives:"
"Portal"
"CUL Collections:"
"CLIO"
"Nat'l / Int'l Archives:"
"ArchivedGRID"
Audiocassettes Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Clippings (Information Artifacts) Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Correspondence Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Oral history Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Photographs Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID

Subject

Heading "CUL Archives:"
"Portal"
"CUL Collections:"
"CLIO"
"Nat'l / Int'l Archives:"
"ArchivedGRID"
Altimari, Frank X (Frank Xavier), 1928-1998 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Alumni Federation of Columbia University Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Anderson, Robert Palmer Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Appellate courts Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Appellate procedure -- United States Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Burger, Warren E., 1907-1995 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Cabranes, José A Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Calabresi, Guido, 1932- Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Cardamone, Richard J., 1925-2015 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Columbia Law School Alumni Association Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Columbia University Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Columbia University. School of Law Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Court administration Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Court calendars Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Court records Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Federal Judicial Center Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Feinberg, Wilfred, 1920- Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Frankel, Marvin E., 1920- Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Friendly, Henry J Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Gurfein, Murray Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Hays, Paul R (Paul Raymond), 1903-1980 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Jacobs, Dennis G., 1944- Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Judges Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Judicial Conference of the United States Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Judicial Conference of the United States. Committee on Long Range Planning Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Katzmann, Robert A Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Kaufman, Irving R (Irving Robert), 1910-1992 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Kearse, Amalya Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Law -- History Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Leval, Pierre N (Pierre Nelson), 1936- Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Lumbard, J. Edward (Joseph Edward), 1901-1999 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Mahoney, John Daniel Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Mansfield, Walter Roe, 1911-1987 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
McLaughlin, Joseph M Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Medina, Harold R (Harold Raymond), 1888-1990 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Meskill, Thomas J., 1928-2007 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Miner, Roger J Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Moore, Leonard P Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Mulligan, William Hughes, 1918-1996 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Newman, Jon O (Jon Ormond) Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Oakes, James L (James Lowell), 1924- Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Parker, Barrington D (Barrington Daniels), 1944- Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Parker, Fred I (Fred Irving), 1938- Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Pierce, Lawrence W (Lawrence Warren), 1924- Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Pooler, Rosemary S (Rosemary Shankman), 1938- Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Pratt, George C (George Cheny), 1928- Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Raggi, Reena, 1951- Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Rehnquist, William H., 1924-2005 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Rosenberg, Maurice, 1919-1995 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Sack, Robert D Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Smith, John Joseph Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Sotomayor, Sonia, 1954- Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Straub, Chester John, 1937- Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Timbers, William Homer Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
United States. Court of Appeals (2nd Circuit) Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
United States. District Court (New York : Southern District) Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
United States. Supreme Court Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Van Graafeiland, Ellsworth Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Walker, John M., 1940- Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Warren, Earl, 1891-1974 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Waterman, Sterry Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Winter, Ralph K., 1935- Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID

History / Biographical Note

Biographical Note

Wilfred Feinberg was born on June 22, 1920 in New York City. His family soon moved to Mount Vernon, NY, where he has remained for much of his life. After graduating from high school, Feinberg attended Columbia College (class of 1940) and enrolled in Columbia Law School before enlisting in the Army during World War II.

During his three years of service in the Signal Corps, Feinberg wrote for Yank magazine and a Signal Corps newsletter, and later wrote a (never published) novel based on his wartime experiences. He reenrolled at Columbia Law School after his Army service and served as editor-in-chief of the Columbia Law Review. Upon graduation in 1946, Feinberg married Shirley Marcus and moved to Philadelphia to clerk for District Judge James P. McGranery, in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

In 1949, after his clerkship, Feinberg returned with his family to New York and joined the firm Kaye Scholer as an associate. After four years, he was offered a junior partner position at McGoldrick, Dannett, Horowitz and Golub, a smaller firm with Columbia Law School connections. Feinberg and his wife became involved in Westchester Democratic politics, leading to his 1958 appointment by Governor W. Averell Harriman as Deputy Superintendent of Banks. As Deputy Superintendent, Feinberg was responsible for regulating union welfare and retail installment credit. After Harriman was defeated by Nelson Rockefeller, Feinberg returned to private practice at McGoldrick, where he remained until his appointment as District Judge in 1961.

In October 1961, Feinberg received a recess appointment from President Kennedy to the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. He was officially confirmed in March 1962. One of Feinberg's first experiences on the bench was with the electrical equipment antitrust cases, which were thousands of private suits that were filed after a 1961 grand jury indictment in Philadelphia against equipment manufacturers for price-fixing. The Co-Ordinating Committee for Multiple Litigation, formed by Chief Justice Earl Warren, was formed to unify the pre-trial process and SDNY Chief Judge Sylvester Ryan was appointed to the committee. Ryan, in turn, asked Feinberg to attend the meetings as his proxy, and Feinberg became deeply involved in the procedural aspects of multidistrict litigation.

His work on judicial procedural improvements continued when Chief Justice Warren appointed him to the Advisory Committee on Federal Rules of Civil Procedure in 1965. It was Feinberg's first official involvement in judicial administration, and throughout his career he remained active in issues of judicial administration and procedure, most notably on the Advisory Council for Appellate Justice (1970-1975) and the Long Range Planning Committee (1991-1995), both under the aegis of the Judicial Conference of the United States.

In 1966, President Johnson nominated Feinberg to a seat on the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, and he became one of the youngest judges on the Court of Appeals. As junior judge, Feinberg was responsible for many of the administrative tasks that would become the job of the Circuit Executive upon the position's creation in 1971. He remained interested in court administration, and wrote numerous articles and speeches on the subject.

Feinberg was Chief Judge of the Second Circuit from 1980 through 1988. He assumed senior status in 1991 but remained active on the bench and on a number of judicial committees until his retirement in 2011. In his career on the bench, Feinberg wrote over 1000 opinions. Citations for some of the historically and legally important cases can be found in the notes to Subseries II.2 and Subseries III.2, along with very brief summaries.

Feinberg was an active presence in the Alumni Associations of both Columbia College and Columbia Law School, and includes among his former clerks countless Columbia Law School alumni, including Columbia University President Lee Bollinger. Judge Feinberg retired from the bench in 2011 after fifty years of service. He lives with Shirley in Mount Vernon, New York.

Sources:

Federal Judicial Center, History of the Federal Judiciary. "Wilfred Feinberg."Biographical Directory of Federal Judges.

Interviews of Wilfred Feinberg by Jeffrey Morris, 1996-1997.

Rosenberg, Maurice. "Chief Judge Wilfred Feinberg: A Twenty-Fifth Year Tribute. Columbia Law Review 86 (1986): 1505-1514.