Skip to main content

College of Law names prize in honor of Schroeder


April 08, 2008

Mary Schroeder, who is stepping down after seven years as chief judge for the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, recently was honored as the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law awarded a $10,000 prize in her honor to a law student committed to public service.

The prize, organized and funded in large part by Schroeder’s current and former law clerks, was given to Cheryl Kane, a third-year law student who will graduate in May.

“I’m deeply honored,” said Kane, who will use the money to defray her law school debts. “It’s great to encourage top students to go into public service.”

Patricia White, dean of the College of Law, said the award will carry on Schroeder’s legacy.

“We wanted to recognize and thank this extraordinary person, woman, public servant and judicial leader,” White said. “The country is in your debt.

“By making this the biggest award the College of Law gives, we are sending an important signal to students, that public service is deeply important. Mary’s legacy as the public service ‘queen’ will last a very long time.”

White said that, after deciding to create the Schroeder Prize, the college contacted Michael Traynor, senior counsel at Cooley Godward Kronish in San Francisco and president of the American Law Institute, to put the plan in motion.

Traynor described Schroeder as a “one of the greatest judges in our country.

“She has battled against efforts to split the Ninth Circuit, and successfully put that to bed,” Traynor said.

Schroeder said she was gratified by the prize.

“I’m surprised and pleased that people would actually contribute money for this,” Schroeder said. “It’s a wonderful idea, and the concept that I would be remembered for public service is great.”

The award was presented at Hohokam Stadium, where Schroeder, a 1965 graduate of the University of Chicago Law School and fanatic Chicago Cubs supporter, watched the Cubs battle to a 10-10 tie with the Milwaukee Brewers in a preseason baseball game.

Before the game, Schroeder laughed as the scoreboard said: “Congratulations Judge Mary Schroeder. Top of the 9th (Circuit Court of Appeals) for seven years.”

The college also gave Schroeder a bronze sculpture of a horse done by artist Cynthia Rigdon, a miniature version of one given to retired U.S. Supreme Court justice Sandra Day O’Connor on the naming of the college in her honor.

Schroeder, who had been a trial attorney with the civil division of the U.S. Department of Justice and served on the Arizona Court of Appeals, joined the Ninth Circuit in 1979, appointed by President Jimmy Carter.

She was the youngest woman appellate judge in America at the time.

She became the first woman chief judge in 2000, when she took leadership of the Ninth Circuit, the largest judicial circuit, which encompasses Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, and the islands of Guam and the Northern Marianas.

The court serves about 20 percent of the nation’s population and wrestles with some of the most controversial issues, such as immigration, legalization of marijuana and religion in schools.

Kane graduated summa cum laude in English from Albion College in Michigan, and was associate managing editor of the Arizona Law Journal, a member of the Women’s Law Student Association and a Willard H. Pedrick Scholar.

Kane’s husband, Peter Wonka, is an assistant professor in computer sciences at ASU.

Judy Nichols, judith.nichols@asu.edu
(480) 727-7895
College of Law