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February 14, 1986 - Image 14

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1986-02-14

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14 Friday, February 14, 1986

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS



-

AVOCATIO.
ON TH'E
BE CH

BY SUSAN WELCH

Special to The Jewish News

f you ask his friends to
describe the Honorable Avern Cohn,
you will probably find several
phrases echoed in each response.
"Prodigious energy," "tremen-
dous intellectual curiosity," and
"deep compassion" are among the
encomia volunteered, readily and re-
peatedly, by those who know him
well.
You will also hear phrases such
as "tough-minded," "demanding,"
"hands-on" and "brass tacks," since
"active" must be the most important
qualifier in the lexicon describing
the 61-year-old U.S. District Court
Judge.
All of these qualities have
shown themselves, time and again,
in the life of the man whose appetite
and capacity for work is overwhelm-
ing; whose range of interests is
enormous; who has devoted as much
time to politics and community af-
fairs as many do to their paid em-
ployment; who reads voraciously,
devouring scores of books, periodi-
cals and newspapers each week;
whose awareness of what one of his
favorite authors, Thomas Hardy, has
called "the long drip of human
tears," has led, to his vigorous in-
volvement in the field of civil rights;
and whose love of the law is legend.
"I wanted to be a lawyer from as
far back as I can remember," says
Cohn, to whom the "tension, the
argument, the adversary relation-
ships" of the courts appealed, even
in boyhood, when he first observed
his father, the late Irwin I. Cohn, in
practice.
The U.S. Army, in 1943, di-
verted him temporarily from his law
studies. As part of an army training
program, he studied both pre-
engineering and pre-medicine
courses, which gave him, he says, "a
broader set of experiences," not only
academically but also in rather
mundane matters, since eight
months of his time was spent as an
attendant in an army hospital. "All
of it," he says "stood me in good
stead, both in the practice of law and
in my judgeship," but did not alter
his determination to be a lawyer.
After graduating from the Uni-
versity of Michigan Law School in
1949, he practiced law, first in his
father's law office and liter, for ten
years, with Honignian, Miller,
Schwartz and Cohn.
As an attorney.; his relish for
"civilized combat" was easily dis-
cerned. "He was a great pro-
tagonist," former colleague Jack Mil-

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