May 20, 2006 – Edward R. Becker, former chief judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, which includes the Virgin Islands, died Friday afternoon at his home in northeast Philadelphia.
The cause of death, according to a story in The New York Times, was prostate cancer. He was 73.
St. Thomas attorney Tom Bolt, remembering Becker, said, "As president of the Virgin Islands Bar Association I had the good fortune to work with Judge Becker on the Virgin Islands Supreme Court proposal." Bolt said in a release from his office, "Judge Becker wanted the Virgin Islands to stand on par with other jurisdictions and have its own Supreme Court. He called on the resources of the Third Circuit and the Administrative Office of the Court to advance this long awaited legal reform."
Bolt said Becker's position with the Third Circuit Appeals Court amounted to his being the Supreme Court judge of the Virgin Islands.
The New York Times said Becker was recognized by the University of Chicago Law Review as one of the federal appeals court judges most frequently cited by the Supreme Court.
The Third Circuit hears appeals from federal courts in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware and the Virgin Islands.
The Times wrote, "Judge Becker served on the appeals court for a quarter-century, issuing decisions on dozens of the region's most complex legal disputes, from asbestos litigation to free speech. He was respected for the comity and clarity he brought to his decision-making at the appeals court, which sits in three-judge panels."
Bolt said he served with Becker for over 12 years as a member of the American Law Institute-American Bar Association Committee, the largest provider of continuing education for lawyers.
"Judge Becker was a mentor and led the way for various pro bono efforts to assist the legal needs of so many," Bolt said. "He was particularly supportive of a project I introduced to produce a videotape to train attorneys in political asylum immigration cases."
"He enlisted the support of Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor to provide the introduction to the tape," Bolt said. "The Virgin Islands has lost a friend."
Share your reaction to this news with other Source readers. Please include headline, your name and city and state/country or island where you reside.