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The University of Iowa Libraries

Guide to the Donald P. Lay Papers

Collection Overview

Date Span: 1958-2004
Creator: Lay, Donald Pomeroy (1926-2007)
Extent: 4.50 linear feet.
Collection Number: MSC0858
Repository: University of Iowa Special Collections
Summary: Speeches, articles, and correspondence of a judge of the Eight Circuit Court of Appeals.

Access: This collection is open for research.

Use: Copyright restrictions may apply; please consult Special Collections staff for further information

Acquisition: This collection was given to the University of Iowa Libraries by Donald Lay in 2007.

Preferred Citation: Donald P. Lay Papers, The University of Iowa Libraries, Iowa City, Iowa.

Repository: University of Iowa Special Collections
Address: Special Collections Department
University of Iowa Libraries
Iowa City, IA 52242
Phone: 319-335-5921
Curator: Greg Prickman

Donald Pomeroy Lay was born in Princeton, Illinois in 1926. He attended the U.S. Naval Academy, 1945 -- 1946. He received his BA in a combined curriculum in Liberal Arts and Law in 1949 and a J.D. in 1951, both from the University of Iowa. He practiced law in Omaha from 1951 to 1966 at which time he was appointed for life to the United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit, by President Johnson. At the age of thirty-nine, he was the second youngest person ever appointed to the Court of Appeals. His appointment was also unusual because the usual route to a position on the Court of Appeals is through a trial court, but that was not the case with Lay. He became chief judge of the Eighth Circuit Court in 1980, a position that he held for twelve years. He retired in 1992.
During his time on the court, Lay streamlined and modernized the Eighth Circuit's administrative system and founded the Eighth Circuit Historical Society to preserve the court's history. Known as a liberal, he worked to make the courts accessible to all citizens regardless of race, gender, or social class. He supported free choice in abortion cases and denounced the death penalty.
Lay made his influence felt not only through the cases he tried -- he taught at several law schools and won numerous awards. He wrote thousands of opinions and dissents, and many articles and speeches.

Texts of over one hundred articles and speeches of Donald P. Lay. The speeches were assigned numbers by his office staff. These numbers have been retained and the articles and speeches are filed in numeric order. There are some unassigned numbers. Also included in the collection is Judge Lay's correspondence, mostly with other judges.
UI Alumni Association Distinguished Alumni Award
"Presentation of the Portrait of the Honorable Donald P. Lay." West's Federal Reports, Second Series, Volume 979 F.2d. St. Paul, Minnesota, 1993
"Tribute." William Mitchell Law Review, Vol.1:No.3 (Summer, 1992), p. 555 -- 593

Browse by Series:
The detailed description has not been entered into the repository.
To view the content list, please follow this link.

This collection is indexed under the following subject terms.

Personal Names:
Lay, Donald P., 1926-2007

Corporate Names:
United States. Circuit Court (8th Circuit)


Geographic Names:
Middle West

Genre/Form of Materials:
Clippings (Information artifacts)
Reviews (Document genre)