GREENE, HAROLD H.


GREENE, HAROLD H.
GREENE, HAROLD H. (1923–2000), U.S. federal judge. Greene was born in Frankfurt, Germany. In 1939 the family fled, making their way to Belgium, Vichy France, Spain, and Portugal before arriving in New York in 1943. Greene already spoke fluent English; he entered the army and was sent back to Europe, where he was assigned to interrogate German prisoners. At the end of the war, Greene joined his parents in Washington, D.C., where he studied law and spent the rest of his life as a lawyer and judge. He was an active member of Congregation Beth El in Bethesda. He earned his B.A. at George Washington University and after he graduated from GWU School of Law in 1952, he clerked for Circuit Judge Bennett Champ Clark in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. His work as a lawyer was in the government: in the U.S. Attorney's office (1953–57) and then in the Justice Department, serving as the first head of the appeals and research section of the Civil Rights Division (1957–65). Greene is credited with being the principal legal architect of   the two most significant statutes of 20th-century America, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Greene's career as a trial judge in the nation's capital was equally distinguished. In 1965 President Lyndon B. Johnson nominated Greene to the D.C. Court of General Sessions, which dealt with essentially minor offenses and lesser civil matters. In 1966, Greene was named chief judge. In 1968, after the assassination of the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., major rioting broke out in Washington. Hundreds of people were swept up and detained. In other cities, defendants were arraigned en masse. Greene refused to countenance that: to secure due process for each one who was arrested, he kept the judges of his court at work round-the-clock. Greene's administrative skills included not just efficiency, but also compassion for those accused. In 1978 President Jimmy Carter nominated Judge Greene to serve on the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, where one of the first group of cases assigned to him was one of the most far-reaching cases in American history: the antitrust suit that broke up American Telephone & Telegraph Co. The Department of Justice view was that AT\&T used profits from its monopoly on local telephone service to suppress competition in the emerging long-distance and telephone equipment industries. Greene took firm command of the litigation that broke the world's largest corporation into pieces. He thereby helped to reshape the entire telecommunications industry by creating the "Baby Bells" and ushering in a new world of competition. In 1990 Judge Greene also presided over the criminal trial of Admiral John M. Poindexter, who was sentenced to six months in prison for his role in the "Iran-Contra" scandal. In 1991 the Court of Appeal for the D.C. Circuit reversed the convictions. Greene became one of the best-known federal judges of his time and enhanced his reputation for fairness and hard work. A champion of equal dignity for citizens of all races and both genders, Greene was renowned for his commitment to due process and the independence of the judiciary. He stopped hearing cases in 1998, and died in 2000. -BIBLIOGRAPHY: The Historical Society of the District of Columbia Circuit, The Honorable H. Greene: U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia (1996); D.C. Bar, "A Conversation with Harold H. Greene," in: Bar Report (April/May 1996); Fred W. Henck and Bernard Strassburg, A Slippery Slope: The Long Road to the Breakup of AT\&T (1988). (Edward McGlynn Gaffney, Jr. (2nd ed.)

Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.

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