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90-Year-Old Detroit Federal Judge Avern Cohn Shows No Signs Of Slowing Down

DETROIT (WWJ) - For more than 30 years he's been on the federal bench in Detroit and at 90-years-old, he shows no sign of slowing down.

Inside a memento and book filled office in the Detroit Federal Courthouse, Judge Avern Cohn sits behind a desk piled high with papers.

Avern Cohn
Judge Avern Cohn

Why do it? "I have my health, including my brain, I don't play golf, my wife has a business, and if I wasn't working, I'm not sure what I would be doing," Cohn told WWJ's Marie Osborne.

Cohn carries a full case load -- he reads six newspapers a day along with countless briefs and documents associated with his cases.

"Having a full docket and a full schedule isn't that taxing," he said. "I find great satisfaction in my work. Every day and every case is a new adventure."

He's presided over dozens of high-profile cases, including a lawsuit involving the patent on the intermittent windshield wiper. That story was made into a movie, "Flash of Genius."

His best advice came when he took the bench after being appointed by President Jimmy Carter. It came from a well-known local journalist.

"'Don't be too judge-y' he told me. So I've tried to be informal but dignified," Cohn said.

He won't say he "loves" his job because it entails sending people to prison and those are tough moments, he said, no matter the circumstances.

"I use the word 'satisfaction' because you can't love a job where there are cases on which you have to do things that will make others very unhappy," he said.

One of his favorite sayings: "Wisdom is in such short supply, there is no reason to reject it."

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