Catalog (URSUS)

picture of Judge Gignoux Judge Edward Gignoux

Personal legal papers on the Chicago Seven contempt trial and other well-known cases heard by a Maine jurist often cited as one of the nation's most gifted federal judges are now available to legal scholars, students and historians with the opening of the Gignoux Special Collections and Rare Book Room at the University of Maine School of Law. The room, located on the fourth floor of the Law School Building, Portland, is named in honor of the late Edward T. Gignoux, the U.S. district judge who presided over numerous high-profile cases and was twice considered for nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court. Gignoux, a Maine native, presided at the Indian Lands Claim case and at the bribery-conspiracy trial of U.S. District Judge Alcee Hastings in Miami. He gained national attention in 1973 when U.S. Chief Justice Warren Burger appointed him to hear the contempt trial of Abby Hoffman, Tom Hayden and the other 1960s activists known as the Chicago Seven, who were charged with conspiracy to disrupt at the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago. Gignoux earned his undergraduate degree from Harvard and his law degree from Harvard Law School before returning home to Portland to practice law. Gignoux was the youngest federal judge in the nation at the time of his appointment in 1957. He retired in 1983 but continued to hear cases as a senior judge. The federal courthouse in Portland was renamed the Edward Thaxter Gignoux United States Courthouse in September of 1988, just two months before his death. The Gignoux family gave the judge's papers to the School of Law in the early 1990s. The School of Law raised in excess of $50,000 to renovate the room and support the collections. Gignoux's longtime secretary, Dorothy Noyes, worked with the law library staff to catalogue the papers. "He was a great mentor and a dear friend," said Justice Howard Dana of the Maine Supreme Judicial Court at a recent dedication ceremony attended by the Gignoux family and members of the legal community. "We are thrilled with the dedication of this special room honoring Judge Gignoux." The room, which is part of the Donald L. Garbrecht Law Library, also houses some 1,200 rare books, primarily early English, American and Maine legal treatises, dating back to the 17th century. Included in the collection is "Commentaries on American Law," an 1826 work by James Kent that serves as the basis for contemporary legal theories, and the first edition of "The Laws of Maine," published in 1821. The collection was started by Donald L. Garbrecht, who served as law librarian from 1963 to 1979.
-USM 1998/99 News Release from Media Relations

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