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Monday, November 09, 2009

In Memoriam: Fred Zacharias



I am heartbroken from the passing of my dear colleague Fred Zacharias. Fred has been bravely battling cancer this past year. This weekend he passed away surrounded by his loved ones.

Fred was an important scholar in constitutional law and professional responsibility. Among his many articles are "The Uniqueness of Federal Prosecutors," Georgetown Law Journal; "Waiving Conflicts of Interest," Yale Law Journal; "Structuring the Ethics of Prosecutorial Trial Practice," Vanderbilt Law Review; "Flowcharting the First Amendment," Cornell Law Review; "Federalizing Legal Ethics," Texas Law Review; and "The Politics of Torts," Yale Law Journal. Before coming to USD he taught at Cornell and George Washingtom Universities.


Fred was a wonderful colleague and mentor. He cared deeply about the institution, his colleagues and his students. He had a unique sense of humor and knew how to be a true friend. When I joined USD a few years ago, Fred was tremendously helpful and generous with his time, reading my drafts carefully and offering his thoughtful comments. Last year, Fred and I both participated in a NYC conference on lawyering. In his talk, and the paper published in the Fordham Law Review symposium, he describes being a public interest litigator before becoming an academic. He describes himself as a young lawyer dedicated to using law to making a difference, and inspired by “the important contributions of attorneys in American history, starting with the Founding Fathers and culminating in the lawyer heroes of the labor and civil rights movements, such as Clarence Darrow and Thurgood Marshall. I had read all the right books--ranging from Darrow's biographies to To Kill A Mockingbird. My professional career was built on the belief that attorneys usually are the catalysts for progressive reforms in the legal and social structures of the nation.” Fred continues his article by critically reflecting on the role of lawyers in democracy and in preserving a democratic climate in society. The article gives merely a glimpse of Fred’s important scholarly contributions. But more than that, to all of us who knew him, it represents some of the qualities we loved most about Fred: insightful, honest, deeply moral, and first and foremost, a good human being. 


Posted by Orly Lobel on November 9, 2009 at 10:08 PM | Permalink


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So sad. I , too, found Fred to be very generous with his time and support for junior faculty members.

I also echo Mike Rappaport's comments: http://rightcoast.typepad.com/rightcoast/2009/11/fred-zacharias-ripmike-rappaport.html

Fred was, indeed, a man of substance and integrity who will be sorely missed.

Posted by: Adam Kolber | Nov 10, 2009 5:02:15 AM

This is truly shocking and tragic news. He was one of my favorite colleagues at USD.

Posted by: Brian | Nov 10, 2009 9:49:16 AM

Professor Zacharias was my Con-law professor as a 1L. He was that proverbial law school professor, the "hard but fair" grader for whom you wanted to work extra hard and earn a good grade. I chose him to be my PR professor as a 3L, because he was so damn good. He inspired me to work hard and to do the right thing.

The world will miss you Fred Zacharias.

Posted by: Nate | Nov 10, 2009 5:29:29 PM

Oh, no. I had no idea. This is awful.
Fred really, genuinely cared about people and had just so much integrity. Someone who put the happiness of others ahead of self-interest. Honest to a fault. We were all so fortunate to have him as a colleague.
Orly this is shocking. Horrible upsetting news. I am so sad to read this.

Posted by: David Law | Nov 11, 2009 1:54:26 AM

I knew Fred when we both were grade-schoolers at Manhattan's ultra-progressive Ethical Culture School. Although we were not close friends, I liked him. Even a child could see Fred was particularly thoughtful, curious and nice.

Interestingly, we both chose the same profession, but he ran in different circles. I am not surprised he is held in such high regard by his colleagues and students -- the qualities of an outstanding teacher were evident when he was a child.

I saw Fred only very occasionally if we happened to be at the same meeting. But, I can say, he certainly fulfilled the promise of his childhood.

Posted by: Prof. Peter B. Bayer | Nov 11, 2009 1:28:05 PM

I was deeply saddened today to learn of Fred's passing. He was a student of mine at Yale many years ago, and a friend and colleague with whom I enjoyed continuing, though too infrequent, contact in the years since. His writing was eloquent, persuasive, and occasionally brave -- scholarship in the finest sense of the word. His career advanced our appreciation of the role of lawyers in American society to a degree that very few others achieved. I will miss him. This is a significant loss to all who knew him, and equally to those who did not.

Edward A. Dauer
Dean Emeritus and Professor Emeritus of Law
University of Denver

Posted by: Edward A. Dauer | Nov 25, 2009 4:20:10 PM

Very sad. I had Prof. Zacharias for 2L Con. Law during '91-'92, and clerked for him the following summer as he prepared a law review piece on the Thornburgh memo. He made for me Con. Law what it should ideally be: the most interesting law school class with the most interesting cases. He was especially strong at analytical, class-wide discussion of those cases, and he never lorded his obviously keen intellect on his students. Pleasure to work for as well - not a gusher, trusted you with tasks then "see you in a couple days." My condolences to his family.

Posted by: Sandro Battaglia | Dec 8, 2009 2:28:51 PM

Fred and I were classmates at Johns Hopkins. Although I have not seen him for close to 35 years, I remember him well and am saddened by his passing. Fred was always the smartest person in the room, but never made me feel like anything else than his intellectual equal. He was always generous with his knowledge, and never competitive.

Posted by: Jeffrey Mirman | Jan 18, 2010 4:21:50 PM

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