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Joseph YoungIn Memoriam: District of Maryland Judge Joseph H. Young ’51

 Joseph H. Young ’51, who served as a district judge for the District of Maryland from 1971 until his retirement in 2002, died in March 2015. He was honored at the Judicial Conference of the Fourth Circuit on May 23, in a tribute submitted by his colleague Judge Richard D. Bennett with assistance from Bennett’s law clerk, Emily Hankin Petrila ’14

The following excerpts (some edited for length) are from that tribute:

“Very few of us who appeared before him for many years were fully aware of his heroism in World War II. He enlisted at the age of 19 and quickly rose to the rank of reconnaissance sergeant in the famed 78th Lightning Infantry Division. It was this division that captured Ludendorff Bridge over the Rhine River at the famous Battle of Remagen in March of 1945. The capture of the bridge enabled General Eisenhower to rapidly deploy five divisions into Germany and shorten World War II in Europe. The Baltimore Sun has mentioned that Joe Young was one of the first American soldiers to cross the bridge. He received a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star for ‘his continuous reconnaissance reports from behind the lines after having been wounded.’ 

“After attending the Law School, Young joined the Baltimore law firm of Piper and Marbury, where he spent his entire career as a trial lawyer, rising to become managing partner. 

“Already enjoying a reputation as an exceptional trial lawyer, Young exhibited the depth of his character in April of 1968. He volunteered to represent indigent defendants arrested during the riots in Baltimore after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King. Later that same year he was the co-chair of Maryland Lawyers for Nixon- Agnew. I suspect that few lawyers had this dual resume. In 1971 he was nominated by President Nixon and unanimously confirmed as a U.S. district judge for Maryland. 

“Young was known for his collegiality, his sense of propriety and his great discipline. Jim Shea ’77, now the managing partner at Venable, served as Young’s law clerk. He advised the judge of his wedding plans during his clerkship. The wedding day ultimately had to be scheduled around Young’s court calendar and the honeymoon was somewhat abbreviated, as the judge needed Jim back in chambers. 

“Young was decisive—and quick to note his ‘Rule 95’ to counsel. This meant they were free to drive down Route 95 to Richmond to appeal his ruling! 

“Young handled many landmark cases during his 31 years on the bench. In 1973 he found a pattern of racial discrimination in Baltimore’s Fire Department and ordered that African-American firefighters be given promotions after years of bias against them. He received death threats afterwards and a U.S. marshal guarded his home. He also ruled in favor of African- Americans on Maryland’s Eastern Shore in a voting rights case challenging existing district lines and countywide voting. He presided over the political corruption trial of West Virginia Gov. Arch Moore in May of 1976, when Judge Kenneth K. Hall of the Southern District of West Virginia recused himself. 

“He also presided over the political corruption trial of Baltimore County Executive Dale Anderson, who had succeeded Spiro Agnew as county executive. After Anderson was convicted for accepting bribes from contractors, Judge Young imposed a five-year prison sentence. The Baltimore Sun reported at the time that the sentence ‘sent shock waves through the corruption hierarchy in Maryland.’ These shock waves followed Agnew to the vice presidency and resulted in his resignation from office in October of 1973. 

“There are several hundred letters that were written by Young to his mother that are now treasures of the Young family. These letters reflect the strength of his character and his compassion and kindness for his fellow man. In April of 1945, his unit liberated Buchenwald, the notorious Nazi concentration camp. Despite the horrors that he witnessed, he still noted in a letter that it is ‘hard to be cruel in dealing with civilians ... most of them are victims of the Nazis just as much as everyone else.’ It was this humanity and compassion for others that Young carried with him during his 31 years on the bench.” 

—Rebecca Barns 


Ruhi RamazaniIn Memoriam: Renowned Iran Scholar Ruhi Ramazani S.J.D. ’54

Rouhoullah “Ruhi” K. Ramazani S.J.D. ’54, a University of Virginia professor emeritus of government and foreign affairs who dedicated his life to UVA and to promoting political understanding of Iran-U.S. relations, died Oct. 5 in Charlottesville. He was 88.

Ramazani was the second person to earn a doctorate in the science of jurisprudence from UVA Law—and the first in international relations and international law.

Ramazani escaped a politically dangerous Iran in 1952, earned his doctorate, then joined the Woodrow Wilson Department of Government and Foreign Affairs (later the Woodrow Wilson Department of Politics), serving on the faculty and teaching for more than 40 years, until 1998. 

He advised American presidents, including President Jimmy Carter during the Iranian Revolution and American hostage crisis in 1979, and continued to publish and lecture on international relations and the Middle East, especially Iran, until a few years ago. The media came to refer to Ramazani as the “dean of Iranian foreign policy studies in the United States.”

“Ruhi Ramazani was a brilliant, learned scholar, but more importantly, a warm and thoughtful human being, always ready to help colleagues, students or national leaders who sought his advice,” said Professor Emeritus David Martin, an international legal expert who served in the State Department’s fledgling human rights bureau under President Carter, among other government roles. “He was proud of his degree from the Law School, and he valued his ongoing connections here. His wise counsel, in so many arenas, will be missed by all who knew him.”

Born in Tehran in 1928, Ramazani was in law school there when political turmoil swept the country after World War II, and he feared for his life. He and his new wife, Nesta, made their way to the University of Georgia, where he prepared to advance his legal studies. His professors there recommended he transfer to UVA to pursue his studies in international law.

A year before he finished his doctorate, Ramazani taught the first course UVA offered on Middle Eastern politics. He was hired full-time after he finished his S.J.D.

Between his classes in international law and U.S. foreign policy, he taught some 8,000 students.

“Ruhi was the first—and for a long time, the only—person who taught anything about the Middle East in the politics department,” William B. Quandt, professor emeritus of politics, said. “But for years and years, he had a large number of students taking a series of courses on the region, at a time when most universities didn’t have anybody teaching this.”

The author of more than 100 articles and 10 books, Ramazani’s last volume was a collection of previously published articles and book chapters released in the fall of 2013. He published his last op-ed in January on the international and U.S. nuclear agreement with Iran, writing that it could lead to better relations. 

The University recognized Ramazani’s many contributions with the creation of a chair in his name, his election to two endowed chairs, a Distinguished Professor Award and the Thomas Jefferson Award in 1994. His son, UVA English professor R. Jahan Ramazani, received the Thomas Jefferson Award in 2011. They are the first father and son to each have won the award.

—Anne E. Bromley and Eric Williamson