Judge Danny J. Boggs of the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals recently announced that he will assume senior status, creating a vacancy on the federal bench for the next president to fill.
Born in Cuba and raised in Bowling Green, Boggs has served on the appeals court since 1986, when he was appointed by then-President Ronald Reagan. Boggs maintains his chambers in Louisville.
His announcement Tuesday that he will go into semi-retirement effective Feb. 28 means there will be two vacancies on the 16-justice panel. Former Judge Boyce Martin, also from Kentucky, retired in 2013 and died last year.
The 6th Circuit Court of Appeals is based in Cincinnati and hears cases appealed from lower federal courts in Kentucky, Ohio, Tennessee and Michigan. Judges for the appeals court are nominated by the president and confirmed by the U.S. Senate.
"Throughout life, Judge Boggs has proven himself to be a distinguished scholar and a brilliant jurist," U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said in a statement issued Tuesday. "His tenure on the bench continues to be marked by his passion, energy and boundless quest for knowledge."
Boggs, who served as chief judge of the 6th Circuit from 2003-09, developed a reputation as an intellect with a breadth of knowledge on many subjects.
A 2001 profile of Boggs in The New Yorker magazine mentions that he administers a general knowledge test of several dozen questions each year to new law-school graduates applying to become a law clerk for him. The average score is about 30 percent, according to the profile.
"It's not just knowing a fact that's important," Boggs is quoted as saying in the profile. "It's that you've read widely enough to learn it."
Two of Boggs' former clerks appeared on the game show "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" and used the judge as their phone-a-friend lifeline, according to the 2001 profile.
Boggs' thirst for knowledge was cultivated at an early age, according to Bowling Green attorney Charles English Sr., who attended College High School with the judge, where Boggs was a member of the debate team.
"He was identified very early on in the grades as being exceptionally bright," English said. "He's just one of these people that really has a super intellect ... . Danny is one of the people that this community really deserves to be proud of for his accomplishments."
After graduating from College High in 1961, Boggs earned his bachelor's degree from Harvard University in 1965 and his law degree from the University of Chicago in 1968.
His professional career included a tenure as legal counsel and administrative assistant to then-Kentucky Gov. Louie Nunn, attorney for the U.S. Department of Commerce, special assistant to the president early in Reagan's first term and Deputy Secretary of the Department of Energy.
When he was not serving in the state or federal government, Boggs engaged in private legal practice in a number of cities, including Bowling Green in the mid-1970s.
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