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Ken Turchi
IU Maurer School of Law

Last modified: Monday, December 20, 2010

Judge donates Supreme Court memorabilia to IU Maurer School of Law

Dec. 20, 2010

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Indiana Court of Appeals Judge Ezra "Zeke" Friedlander has spent more than a decade combing through auction lists searching for memorabilia from the United States Supreme Court.

After years of pursuing his collecting passion, Friedlander has donated his sizable collection to the Indiana University Maurer School of Law, which is displaying most of the items in its nationally recognized Law Library. Friedlander received his J.D. degree from the school in 1965.

Ezra "Zeke" Friedlander

Ezra "Zeke" Friedlander

"I have been a collector of sports memorabilia, and while I was doing that, I started seeing items of significance that had ties to the U.S. Supreme Court," said Friedlander, an IU history major and all-around history buff. "At first I wanted to see if I could get every signature of every Supreme Court justice that ever served, but quickly realized I wasn't going to live that long! Then I decided I'd aim for a lot of the early justices and the chief justices.

"Some signatures don't come up for auction that often, but whenever I ran across them over the years, I'd try to bid on them. If there was some kind of Indiana connection or some other unique tie to our state, I'd try to get it."

Recently Friedlander decided it was time to bring his project to a halt, and he thought of places where he could donate the Supreme Court memorabilia.

"What could be a better or more appropriate place than the Law School?" he said. "I've been active at the Law School, the IU Foundation, and the College of Arts and Sciences, so I've always had an eye to doing things for the university. I can't think of a better place for this collection to be housed."

Friedlander has donated a number of items to the Law School. The framed collection includes:

  • 74 signatures of the U.S. Supreme Court justices who served from 1789 to the present
  • A pleading by John Marshall in the case of Blackwell v. Sydon over a defaulted promissory note, dated Nov. 24, 1785
  • A letter written by John Jay; a slip opinion for Heller v. New York signed by the entire 1973 court; and signatures of Oliver Wendell Holmes, Roger Taney, Salmon Chase, Louis Brandeis, and many others
  • An 1889 Currier & Ives print of President Benjamin Harrison and his cabinet, with appended signatures of Harrison and the cabinet members
  • A 1963 letter from William O. Douglas declining an invitation to write an article for Teacher's College Journal, sent to Joseph R. Ellis at Indiana State College (now Indiana State University)
  • A two-page letter written by Judah P. Benjamin, the first Jewish member of the U.S. Senate, who later was appointed attorney general, secretary of war, and secretary of state for the Confederacy

Most pieces can be viewed by the public on the second floor of the Law Library, located at 211 S. Indiana Ave. in Bloomington. The John Marshall pleading is displayed inside the Dean's Suite inside the main Law Building.

Friedlander is the presiding judge of the Court of Appeals' Second District, appointed to the Court of Appeals by Governor Evan Bayh in January 1993. At Indiana University, he serves on the dean's advisory board of the College of Arts and Sciences, including as chairman of the committee on directors. He also serves on the board of directors of the Indiana University Foundation, previously chaired its committee on directors, and was a member of the Foundation's executive committee.

He is a member of the Maurer School's Academy of Law Alumni Fellows, the highest honor the school can bestow upon its graduates, and was previously the president of the school's Alumni Board. He has also endowed a scholarship at the IU Maurer School of Law.