WATERVILLE, Maine — U.S. District Judge D. Brock Hornby on Sunday received the Morton A. Brody Distinguished Judicial Service Award during an event at Colby College.
Receiving the award, which was created to honor the memory of a former colleague, meant a great deal to Hornby, the judge said last week.
“To be told through this award that I meet the Brody criteria — the same qualities of integrity, compassion, humanity, and judicial craftsmanship as Judge Brody exhibited — well, that’s both the greatest compliment I can imagine, and a daunting standard for me to live up to for the rest of my professional life,” Hornby, 69, of Cape Elizabeth said Thursday.
Brody, for whom the award is named, died in March 2000 at the age of 66 after presiding in Bangor for many years. The award is presented every two years to an outstanding federal or state judge who “embodies the same qualities of integrity, compassion, humanity, and judicial craftsmanship as were exhibited by Judge Brody throughout his lifetime,” according to information posted on the website describing the award.
Brody exuded humanity, decency and kindness — traits Hornby has tried to emulate.
“Even when he had to impose a harsh sentence, if you sat in his courtroom, you could tell that he was basically a kind and decent man,” Hornby said. “All the staff who worked with him — his law clerks, personnel in the clerk’s office, the court security officers and deputy marshals — loved him. Lawyers enjoyed practicing in his courtroom. Litigants respected him. And, he was always collegial and supportive with other judges, both here in Maine and nationally.
“I have tried to emulate those qualities, but the emphasis is on the word ‘tried,’” the judge said. “Mort Brody was unique in his ability to project those characteristics of humanity, decency and fairness in the courtroom, in the office and at judicial conferences and meetings.”
Hornby is the second Maine judge to receive the award. It was presented in 2006 to 1st Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Frank Coffin. Coffin died three years later at the age of 90.
A native of Canada, Hornby earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in English and history from the University of Western Ontario and graduated from Harvard Law School in 1969. The next year, he began teaching at the University of Virginia Law School. He moved to Maine in 1974 to practice law in Portland.
He served from 1982 to 1988 as a U.S. magistrate judge in Portland, then served on the Maine Supreme Judicial Court for two years. President George H.W. Bush appointed him to the U.S. District Court in 1990. From 1996 to 2003, he served as chief judge of the district. Hornby assumed senior status four years ago but continues to carry a full workload in federal court in Portland.
In September 2009, Hornby received the Edward J. Devitt Distinguished Service to Justice Award, the highest honor that can be bestowed upon a federal judge, by colleagues in a ceremony at the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, D.C.