Malcolm F. Marsh: A Judicial Philosophy of Kindness–Lifetime Service Award 2020


With his fellow judges, Marsh has been a true friend.  He and the late Judge James A. Redden were regular lunch buddies at the bar in Higgins. Judge Anna J. Brown, his seat’s successor, tried a case to a jury in his courtroom; when she was hit by a car in a crosswalk during a break, Marsh summoned then medical examiner Dr. Brady to make sure she was alright. And he contributed significantly to the court by continuing to manage a caseload as a senior judge past his 91st birthday. He fully retired in May 2020.

A Personal Note

Judge Malcolm Marsh with his former clerk Kelly Zusman and her daughter Grace Zusman in 2013.

In 1989, I was 23 years old, fresh out of law school. I had stumbled into a federal clerkship without any real grasp on what I wanted to do with my law degree. My first bench memo was a disaster. Produced with my own dot matrix printer, it was handed back to me with so much red ink there was little white left on the page. [Marsh was never a line editor.  His longtime law clerk Jackie Bartfuff Holley was my incredibly helpful editor. Instead, Marsh had a sense for when something was incongruent; he would point it out, shake his head, and say something along the lines of “it just doesn’t read right.” Or my favorite:  “I think you got a phone call on page 12.” ] I dissected the edits, created a checklist, and vowed to produce something better the next time. He referred to me as FILO, for “first-in-last-out.” He seemed to genuinely enjoy my efforts; he gave me a lot of feedback, and I soaked in everything in an effort to improve. He made me feel like I was contributing something meaningful to his decision-making process, and I was hooked. He instilled an enthusiasm for digging for information in an effort to ensure that he was fully apprised and well-prepared for court. He also inspired a career in public service that extends to this day. Other law clerks like Karen O’Connor, Dana Sullivan, and Kjersten Turpen have followed in his footsteps and become some of the state’s best trial attorneys.

Every year since I left his chambers for the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the “Marsh clerks” hold a reunion lunch with the judge. Along with the building, we are part of his legacy and each one of us carries just a little bit of Malcolm with us every time we enter a courtroom.  On behalf of everyone who has worked for him or with him, congratulations Malcolm on this Lifetime Service Award.

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