In Memoriam: U.S. District Judge John Feikens


The State Bar of Michigan mourns the loss of U.S. District Court Judge John Feikens, of Grosse Pointe, who died of natural, age-related causes on May 15 at the age of 93.

Judge Feikens had the unusual honor of being nominated to the same district court by three presidents. He was the Senior Judge, U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan from 1986 until late last year when he retired. He was first permanently appointed to the court in Dec. 1970 and served as chief judge from 1979 to 1986, when he took senior status.

Throughout his career, Judge Feikens also served as a State Bar commissioner, a fellow of the American Bar Foundation, past president of the Detroit Bar Association, and a trustee of the Detroit Bar Association Foundation.

"Judge Feikens' death is a great loss to the legal community," said SBM President W. Anthony Jenkins. "He was a judge of tremendous stature who made immeasurable contributions to metropolitan Detroit and Michigan. He didn't let politics stand in the way of doing what was right."

Judge Feikens is best known for overseeing the Detroit Water and Sewer Department case, and is widely recognized as one of the key stabilizing forces in the case over the past 33 years. Many other notable cases that came before Judge Feikens' court involved gender discrimination. His rulings on the bench and other contributions to the legal profession will continue to make an impact for years to come.

"Judge Feikens' legacy of professionalism and service to the law lives on through attorneys in his family—including his sons Jon, a former State Bar commissioner, and Robert, and his grandson Jeffrey," said SBM Executive Director Janet Welch

Judge Feikens was also known for his commitment to creating fair access to justice. He served as cochairman of the Michigan Civil Rights Commission from its inception in 1963 until 1966. He was a member of the Judicial Conference Committee on the Operation of the Jury System from 1977-1985.

"Judge Feikens will be deeply missed," said Michigan State Bar Foundation Executive Director Linda Rexer. "He was a life fellow of the Foundation, and a friend of our access to justice initiative. In 2007, stating that he was, 'very aware of the unmet need for civil legal services to the poor,' Judge Feikens directed nearly $24,000 in cy pres funds to the Access to Justice Fund."

Funeral services for Judge Feikens will be held at 11 a.m. on Thursday, May 19, at Grosse Pointe Memorial Church. Arrangements are being handled by the Verheyden Funeral Home in Grosse Pointe.