Stanley G. Feldman, 82, retired as an Arizona Supreme Court justice in 2002, but he hasn’t retired from the legal profession. Now in his sixth decade of fighting for the rights of all, Feldman will receive the Jewish Heritage Award at the Tucson Jewish History Museum’s annual benefit on Sunday, Oct. 26 from 4 to 6:30 p.m. at the Historic Scottish Rite Cathedral, 160 S. Scott Ave.
In 1956, after graduating first in his class at the University of Arizona Law School, “I couldn’t get an interview in Tucson or Phoenix because I was Jewish,” says Feldman. “At first I was quite hurt by that. I went out on my own. There were a few Jewish lawyers in Tucson but they didn’t need any help” at the time.
His first law office was across the street from brothers Morris and Stewart Udall on North Court Street. “I worked with them. I learned to practice law the way you should from Morris,” notes Feldman. “He was an honest, forthright guy with a great sense of humor.” During their careers the Udall brothers were active in local and national politics, with Morris serving in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1961 to 1991 and Stewart elected to the House for three terms before serving as secretary of the interior under Presidents Kennedy and Johnson.
Gov. Bruce Babbitt appointed Feldman to the Arizona Supreme Court in 1982, where he served for 21 years, including five as chief justice, from 1992 to 1997. Two of the most interesting cases he ruled on, says Feldman, were the impeachment trial of Gov. Evan Meacham in 1988 and Gov. John Fife Symington III’s fraud case leading to his resignation in 1997.
In 2003, Feldman returned to Haralson, Miller, Pitt, Feldman and McAnally, the firm he helped found, where he represents clients in major personal injury, wrongful death, products liability, employment and other civil litigation.
Feldman serves on the boards of the Arizona Center for Law in the Public Interest, Arizona Trial Lawyers Association and United Policyholders, a national consumer organization protecting insureds. He has received numerous awards, including the Judge Learned Hand Award for Public Service from the American Jewish Committee and the Lifetime Achievement Award from the UA’s James E. Rogers College of Law.
As for his latest honor from the Jewish History Museum, “I don’t take this award as personal as much as I take it as an acknowledgement of how far the whole community has come,” Feldman told the AJP, adding that during his career he’s worked on cases of “discrimination against Jewish dentists, Jews in public places or as customers, and as members of clubs or organizations.”
“We still have more to do [regarding] gay rights, women’s rights, domestic violence and discrimination toward African-Americans, Asian-Americans, Hispanic- Americans and other minorities.”