Judge Learned Hand

Judge Learned Hand is said to be the most influential judge in the United States who never sat on the Supreme Court.

Closely reflecting my own views on media policy, Judge Hand wrote a compelling trial court opinion in United States v. Associated Press, which warned starkly of the dangers to free speech by private monopoly.  “The First Amendment … presupposes that right conclusions are more likely to be gathered out of a multitude of tongues, than through any kind of authoritative selection. To many this is, and will always be, folly; but we have staked upon it our all.”  United States v. Associated Press, 52 F. Supp. 362 S.D.N.Y. (1943), aff’d, 326 U.S. 1 (1945).

He is well-known by lawyers everywhere for his method to calculate negligence, which laid the foundation for the field of law and economics.  Judge Hand concluded that negligence should attach only when burden of preventing the injury does not exceed the magnitude of the injury multiplied by its likelihood of occurring.

While I don’t necessarily agree with each of his opinions, I like Judge Hand’s rigorous style of decision-making.  In addition, his famous Spirit of Liberty Speech is thought-provoking and inspirational.    To wit, “[T]he spirit of liberty is the spirit which seeks to understand the mind of other men and women; the spirit of liberty is the spirit which weighs their interests alongside its own without bias….”

I chose A Learned Hand as a name for my company because, in addition to having an apropos name, Judge Hand was born Albany NY, near my childhood home, and my last name is derived from the same root as his first name (“learned”).

Additional links about Learned Hand:

Answers.com compendium of biographical information

Learned Hand Wikipedia site


NPR story about Learned Hand and folk songs