William Downes

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William Downes
Judge Wm F Downes portrait painting by Michele Rushworth.jpg
Current Court Information:
United States District Court for the District of Wyoming
Title:   Former Judge
Position:   Seat #3
Appointed by:   Bill Clinton
Active:   6/16/1994 - 7/24/2011
Chief:   1999 - 2011
Preceded by:   104 Stat. 5089
Succeeded by:   Scott W. Skavdahl
Personal History
Born:   July 24, 1946
Hometown:   Boston, MA
Undergraduate:   University of North Texas, B.A., 1968
Law School:   University of Houston Law, J.D., 1974
Military service:   U.S. Marine Corps 1968-1971
William F. Downes was an Article III federal judge for the U.S. District Court for the District of Wyoming. He joined the court in 1994 after being nominated by President Bill Clinton. He retired from the court on July 24, 2011. Downes was the Chief Judge of the Court from 1999 until his retirement.[1]

Following his retirement from the court, Judge Downes worked with Judicial Arbitration and Mediation Services, Inc.

Early life and education

Born in Boston, Massachusetts, Downes graduated from the University of North Texas in 1968 and later from the University of Houston with his Law degree in 1974.[1]

Military service

From 1968 to 1971, Downes served in the US Marines as a Captain.[1]

Professional career

Downes was admitted to the bar in May 1975. At that time, he served as Assistant City Attorney for Green River, Wyoming and worked in private practice. In 1978, Downes joined the firm of Brown and Drew, where he worked until joining the court in 1994.[1][2]

Judicial career

District of Wyoming

Downes was nominated to the U.S. District Court for the District of Wyoming by President Bill Clinton on May 5, 1994 to a new judgeship created by 104 Stat. 5089, which was approved by Congress. Downes was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on June 15, 1994, and received commission on June 16, 1994. Downes served as the Chief Judge from 1999 until 2011.[3] Downes retired from the court on July 24, 2011.[4] Downes was succeeded in this position by Scott W. Skavdahl.

Notable cases

Judge allows Bill Ayers to speak on campus (2010)

     [[United States District Court for the District of Wyoming]] (William Ayers v. University of Wyoming, No. 10-CV-079)

Judge Downes presided over a case where the University of Wyoming banned political activist William Ayers from speaking on campus. On April 26, 2010, the judge heard over five hours of arguments from University of Wyoming officials and from attorneys representing Ayers. The issue was whether or not the political activist should be allowed to speak at a lecture sponsored by the University of Wyoming Social Justice Research Center. According to the university, Ayers was barred to speak over safety and security concerns relating to a planned protest of his appearance. The judge ruled that William Ayers must be allowed to speak at the University of Wyoming on April 27, 2010. Downes found that the University of Wyoming did not had enough justification to ban Ayers's speech.[5]

See also

External links


Federal judicial offices
Preceded by:
NA-New Seat
District of Wyoming
Seat #3
Succeeded by:
Scott W. Skavdahl

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