Howard Thomas Markey (November 10, 1920 – May 3, 2006) was an American jurist who served as the first chief judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. He is often credited with establishing that court's renown and competence in intellectual property law. Judge Markey also is known for being the only person to have served (as a sitting judge or by designation) as a judge on all of the United States federal appellate courts. With the abolition of the Court of Customs and Patent Appeals, Judge Markey's achievement cannot be repeated.
Early life, military and legal career
Markey was born in Chicago, Illinois to Thomas Joseph and Vera Marie (Dryden) Markey. He served in the U.S. Army Air Forces during World War II as a test pilot, flying P-38s and P-59 jets in extreme cold-weather. He left the army in 1946 as a major, and became a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Air Force Reserve. Markey subsequently earned his undergraduate degree and a J.D. in an accelerated one-year program at Loyola University Chicago School of Law in 1949, and an LL.M. in patent law in 1950 from John Marshall Law School. He returned to active military service in the Korean War, in which he served as a planner of the Korean Airlift.
Markey returned to Chicago following the war, specializing his private legal practice in patent law and other areas of intellectual property. He remained in the Air Force Reserve, and served as commander of the Illinois Air National Guard and as deputy commander of the Reserve's Tactical Air Command. Markey retired from the Air Force Reserve in 1976 as a major general, having received the Distinguished Service Medal, the Legion of Merit and the Distinguished Flying Cross.
He was a lecturer at Loyola University School of Law from 1971 to 1972.
Federal judicial service
Markey was nominated by President Richard Nixon in 1972 to succeed Francis Eugene Worley as chief judge of the U.S. Court of Customs and Patent Appeals. Markey was confirmed by the United States Senate, receiving his commission on June 22, 1972. On October 1, 1982, that court was merged with the appellate division of the federal Court of Claims to establish the Federal Circuit. Markey was reassigned to the Federal Circuit by operation of law, and continued to serve as chief judge of the new court until 1991. During his tenure on both courts, and while sitting by designation in the regional circuits, Markey is estimated to have participated in more than 6,400 cases, and to have written over 1,000 opinions. Following his retirement from the bench, Markey served as the dean of John Marshall Law School, from 1991 until 1994.
In 1997, Congress renamed the Federal Circuit's Washington, D.C. headquarters the Howard T. Markey National Courts Building. Congressman Henry Hyde (R-IL), then-chair of the House Judiciary Committee, said that Markey's efforts had established the Federal Circuit as "the world's most respected and followed court on matters of intellectual property."
Retirement and death
Markey, who suffered from Parkinson's Disease, died on May 3, 2006 in a nursing home in Hinsdale, Illinois where he lived his last years. Known for his sense of humor, he is said to have asked the nursing home staff to call him "judge" and "general" on alternate days. Markey was buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
His wife of 52 years, Elizabeth Pelletier Markey, died in 1994. They had three sons: Thomas, who died in infancy, Christopher and Jeffrey; and a daughter, Jennifer.
- Howard Thomas Markey at the Biographical Directory of Federal Judges, a public domain publication of the Federal Judicial Center.
- Obituaries: Howard Markey; First Chief Judge of Federal Circuit Appellate Court, Patricia Sullivan. Washington Post, May 5, 2006.
- Former Federal Circuit Judge Howard T. Markey Dies, BNA Patent, Trademark & Copyright Journal, May 5, 2006.
- Federal Judicial Center CCPA entry on Howard Thomas Markey
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