(CN) – Approaching his 50th year on the bench, a 103-year-old federal judge announced that he would lighten his case load this week.
U.S. District judge Wesley Brown was appointed to the Kansas District Court in 1962 by President John F. Kennedy, and is the longest serving judge on that court. He turns 104 on June 22.
The judge’s law clerk, Michael Lahey, told the AP Thursday that Brown is removing himself from the draw for assignment of new criminal cases.
Some of his existing cases are being reassigned to other judges because the lengthy plea hearings “take a lot of oxygen” from Brown, who uses oxygen as he presides from the bench, Lahey told the AP.
Congress honored and commended Brown on his 100th birthday in 2007.
The resolution notes that Brown worked on a Ford Motor Co. assembly line, helping to build Model A’s while taking night classes at the Kansas City School of Law.
“Whereas at the onset of the Great Depression in 1931, Wesley E. Brown was given the task of typing 3,000 ‘pink slips’ at the Ford Motor Company, including the last one in the pile, bearing the name of `Wesley E. Brown,'” the resolutions continues.
“Whereas Wesley E. Brown has been a living example of the American Dream, rising from modest means and succeeding through hard work and perseverance,” it also says.
Brown served in the U.S. Navy in World War II as a lieutenant stationed at Commander Philippines Sea Frontier.
He has been a senior district judge since 1979, after serving a seven-year term as the court’s chief judge.
Brown had two children with his first wife, Mary Miller Brown, whom he married in 1934. He married his second wife, Thadene Noel Moore Brown, 60 years later.
The resolution states that Brown has been awarded the Phil Lewis Medal of Distinction and lifetime achievement awards from the Wichita Bar Association and the Judicial Council of the 10th Circuit. It quotes him as saying, “As long as I can do the job, I’ll carry on.”