In Memoriam: Avern Levin Cohn (1924-2022)

Judge Avern Cohn in 2002

The Reuther Library marks with sadness the death on February 4, 2022, of the honorable Avern Cohn. Cohn served as Senior United States District Judge of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan for forty years, retiring in 2019. His professional and personal papers, Avern L. Cohn Papers, have been part of the Reuther’s collections for several years and represent his wide-ranging interests and activities, from legal opinions and writings, to Michigan, Detroit and Jewish history, and to family matters, philanthropy and leisure travel.

Avern Levin Cohn was born in Detroit in 1924 and served in the U.S. Army during WWII. President Jimmy Carter nominated him to the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan on May 17, 1979, and he was confirmed on September 25, 1979. Cohn took senior status as a judge on October 9, 1999.

In his several decades on the federal bench, Cohn was involved in cases on a variety of issues including tax law, civil rights, school desegregation, and patents and trademarks. He was a prolific writer of professional articles, as well as opinion pieces and letters to the editor. His research materials and writings are included in his papers at the Reuther. Cohn was a frequent participant in and speaker at meetings for the legal profession, legal education institutions and many other professional groups.

Cohn’s papers include wide-ranging correspondence on the local, national and international level with lawyers and judges; politicians and government officials; journalists and publishers; business leaders; religious leaders; and academics. His active participation and leadership in the Jewish community of Detroit is reflected in the collection, along with his writings on Jewish history subjects. Judge Cohn was a noted philanthropist to the University of Michigan and many other educational, secular and religious institutions and received many honors for service to his profession, to the legal community and to the Jewish community.

The Avern L. Cohn Papers are an important contribution to the history of courts and the legal profession, as well as to the history of Michigan and Detroit. Judge Cohn will be greatly missed by his family, by the Reuther Library and by his many colleagues, students and admirers.