Judge Patti Saris Receives Colby’s Morton A. Brody Distinguished Judicial Service Award

Announcements3 MIN READ

Significant accomplishments include mentoring newest Supreme Court justice

By George SopkoPhotography by Robert Bachrach
November 2, 2022

In recognition of judicial excellence and an exceptional career as a federal judge, Colby College is pleased to announce that it will honor Patti B. Saris with this year’s Morton A. Brody Distinguished Judicial Service Award.

The Honorable Judge Saris served as a United States District Court Judge (D. MA.) from 2013 to 2019. Her significant accomplishments include chairing the U.S. Sentencing Commission, clerking for the Supreme Judicial Court, and working as staff counsel for Senator Edward M. Kennedy when he chaired the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Since 2000, Colby’s biannual Morton A. Brody Distinguished Judicial Service Award has honored an outstanding federal or state judge who embodies the qualities of integrity, compassion, humanity, and judicial craftsmanship exemplified by Judge Brody during his lifetime. The award was created and named for the late judge Morton A. Brody, a long-time resident of Waterville, Maine, who had an extraordinary career on the bench and was a dedicated civic leader and family man.

“Judge Saris has had a truly remarkable career in public service. She has served in all three branches of government and has distinguished herself in every position she has held. She has been at the forefront of improving our nation’s sentencing laws and the administration of the courts, and she has long been recognized as an outstanding and thoughtful jurist. It is truly a privilege to be able to honor her with this important award,” said Jon D. Levy, who chairs the award’s selection committee and is chief judge of the United States District Court in Maine.

“I knew and admired Judge Brody and am so honored to receive this award in his name.”

Judge Patti Saris

In a career that spans more than 40 years, Judge Saris has served in a wide range of positions and roles. In addition to serving as a U.S. District Court judge and chairing the U.S. Sentencing Committee, highlights include clerking for the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, serving as an assistant United States attorney, and eventually chief of the Civil Division. She also worked as a United States magistrate, and starting in 1989 served as an associate justice of the Massachusetts Superior Court. In 1994, she was appointed to the United States District Court.

Mentoring up-and-coming lawyers and judges

“While Judge Saris has made a significant difference as a judge and as a lawyer, another key accomplishment is her deep commitment to mentoring women entering and involved in the legal profession, including our latest Supreme Court Justice, Ketanji Brown Jackson, who was a law clerk to Judge Saris,” commented Judge Brody’s daughter, Elizabeth Brody Gluck, a professor at Boston University Law School who is also a lawyer and on the award selection committee.

A graduate of Radcliffe College (Magna Cum Laude, Phi Beta Kappa) and Harvard Law School (Cum Laude), Judge Saris has received awards for judicial excellence from the Boston Bar Association, the Federal Bar Association, and the Patent Bar Association, and she is a recipient of the Harvard Medal. She has also received an award for her work in reducing federal sentences for drug offenders and has coauthored several books, including Congress: The First Branch of Government and Breaking Barriers, The Unfinished Story of Women Lawyers and Judges in Massachusetts.

“I knew and admired Judge Brody and am so honored to receive this award in his name,” said Judge Saris. “I have had more than 35 years on both the state and federal bench. One highpoint was my work on the Sentencing Commission, where we were able to reach bipartisan consensus in reducing drug sentences and addressing mass incarceration at the federal level. I look forward to many more years on the bench doing justice and mentoring young people.”

Judge Saris will receive the Morton A. Brody Distinguished Judicial Service Award at a ceremony at Colby College in November that will include a panel discussion about the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the federal criminal justice process and sentencing. For additional information about the award, including the selection committee and Judge Brody, please visit the Goldfarb Center at Colby.