August 1, 2007

U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals judge honored at annual Red Mass

Judge Diana Murphy of the Eighth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals will be honored with the Fidelis Apparitor Award during the sixth annual Red Mass at 5 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 15, at Sacred Heart Chapel, Saint Benedict’s Monastery, on the College of Saint Benedict campus. The public is invited to attend.

The award, which means “faithful servant” in Latin, is given to individuals who have been good and faithful servants of the law. John Simonett, a former associate justice with the Minnesota Supreme Court and a 1948 graduate of Saint John’s University, received the award last year.

Honorees are chosen by virtue of their exemplary service, outstanding competence and leadership, and their adherence to the directive in the Rule of Saint Benedict: “No one is to pursue what is judged better for oneself, but instead, what is judged better for someone else.”

Murphy, who was born in Faribault, Minn., received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Minnesota, and her law degree from the University of Minnesota Law School. She was in private practice from 1974-76 in Minneapolis, then served as a judge on the Hennepin (Minn.) County Municipal Court from 1976-78 and as a judge on the Minnesota District Court Fourth Judicial District from 1978-80.

In 1979, she was nominated by President Jimmy Carter to a new seat created in U.S. District Court, District of Minnesota. She was confirmed by the Senate in 1980, and served as chief judge from 1992-94. In 1994, she became a judge in the Eighth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals following a nomination by President Bill Clinton. Murphy also served as chair of the U.S. Sentencing Commission from 1999-2004.

Murphy served for 19 years on the SJU Board of Regents, chairing the board from 1995-98. She is now a Regent Emerita. She is currently a member of the Board of Trustees at the University of St. Thomas, St. Paul.

The celebrant and homilist for the Red Mass is Abbot John Klassen, OSB, of Saint John’s Abbey.

The judicial year in many jurisdictions around the world is traditionally opened with a Red Mass. The celebration of the Mass is designed to provide judges, lawyers, civic leaders and academics of all faiths the opportunity to reflect on the powers and responsibilities that are part of their offices.

Red Mass participants ask God to grant the virtues and gifts necessary for the proper and just administration of their duties. The Red Mass name comes from the red vestments and garments that early legal participants wore on this occasion.