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Frank M. Coffin, Maine Congressman and Judge.

Frank Morey Coffin (July 11, 1919 – December 7, 2009) was an American politician from Maine and a United States federal judge. He was a Democrat.


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Early life, education, and career

Born in Lewiston, Maine, Coffin was educated in Lewiston's public schools. He received an A.B. from Bates College in 1940, completed graduate instruction in Industrial Administration at Harvard Business School in 1943, and was a 1947 graduate (LL.B.) of Harvard Law School, where he was a member of the Harvard Legal Aid Bureau.

During World War II, Coffin served in the Pacific Theater with the U.S. Navy as an ensign and later as a lieutenant from 1943 until 1946. He was admitted to the bar and commenced the practice of law in Lewiston, and was a law clerk for Judge John D. Clifford, Jr. of the United States District Court for the District of Maine from 1947 to 1949. He was Corporation counsel for the City of Lewiston from 1949 to 1952. Coffin practiced law in Lewiston until 1953, and then in Portland until 1956.

Political activities

Coffin served as chairman of the Maine Democratic state committee from 1954 to 1956 and was elected as a Democrat to the United States House of Representatives in 1956. He was elected to the 85th and 86th Congresses, serving from January 3, 1957 until January 3, 1961. He did not seek re-election in the 1960 election, choosing instead to embark on an unsuccessful campaign for Governor of Maine. Coffin was then managing director of the Development Loan Fund until October 1961 when he became deputy administrator of the Agency for International Development and served until 1964. He was appointed to serve as United States Representative to Development Assistance Committee of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development in Paris from 1964-65.

Federal judicial service

On September 15, 1965, Coffin was nominated by President Lyndon B. Johnson to a seat on the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit vacated by John Patrick Hartigan. Coffin was confirmed by the United States Senate on October 1, 1965, and received his commission the next day. He served as chief judge from 1972–83, and assumed senior status on February 1, 1989. During that time, he was the chairman of the U.S. Judicial Conference Committee on the Judicial Branch from 1984-90. Coffin retired from the bench entirely in the fall of 2006.

Later career and death

A resident of South Portland, Coffin also served as a partner in the Maine-based law firm Verrill Dana. He was recognized by the firm for his work with the Frank M. Coffin Fellowship in Family Law.


He died on December 7, 2009 at Maine Medical Center in Portland, Maine from complications following surgery to repair an aortic aneurysm.[1]

Coffin is the author of four books: Witness for AID (Houghton Mifflin 1964); The Ways of a Judge: Views from the Federal Appellate Bench (Houghton Mifflin 1980); A Lexicon of Oral Advocacy (National Institute of Trial Advocacy 1985); On Appeal: Courts, Lawyering and Judging (W.W. Norton 1994).


  1. Sara Lepro and Tim Paradis, Maine federal appeals Judge Coffin dies at 90 Nashua Telegraph. Retrieved on December 8, 2009.


  • Frank M. Coffin at the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress; retrieved February 6, 2008.
  • Frank Morey Coffin at the Biographical Directory of Federal Judges, a public domain publication of the Federal Judicial Center.
United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Charles Pembroke Nelson
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Maine's 2nd congressional district

1957 – 1961
Succeeded by
Stan Tupper
Legal offices
Preceded by
Bailey Aldrich
Chief Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit
1972 – 1983
Succeeded by
Levin Hicks Campbell
Preceded by
John Patrick Hartigan
Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit
1965 – 1989
Succeeded by
Conrad K. Cyr

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