Judge Myron Bright Pens Compelling Memoir

Document Type

News Article

Publication Date


Campus Unit

School of Law


The title of Myron Bright’s book, “Goodbye Mike, Hello Judge,” is not a snappy throwaway. It goes to the heart of the federal Circuit Court judge’s life story. In a few words it encompasses Bright’s transition from trial lawyer and political activist to one of the most respected jurists in the nation.

The book, which was edited by Bob Jansen, is available at Zandbroz Variety in downtown Fargo, and from the publisher, North Dakota State University’s Institute for Regional Studies. It’s a good read, not only for Bright’s insights into the body of law that evolved during his 47 years on the 8th Circuit Court but also because of his personal life story.

At age 96, “Mike,” as he’s known to friends and colleagues, still takes cases. He continues to add to a stack of opinions, many of them in the minority, that are distinguished by their sensitivity for how the law affects the lives of people. That quality in his work puts him squarely and unapologetically on the side of compassionate jurisprudence.

His book is both personal memoir and professional examination of many of his most important legal decisions. But the story begins before he was appointed to the bench in 1968 by President Lyndon Johnson. Those early years, from his roots in Minnesota’s Iron Range to his enduring friendship with the late North Dakota Sen. Quentin Burdick, were determinative in the path he would take as a judge – a path he still walks every day.

Without giving too much of the memoir away, readers will be fascinated by Bright’s casual references to having spent time with John Kennedy, LBJ, Burdick and others in the impressive political pantheon of the time. Bright was an early supporter of JFK, and the photo section of the book features several shots of the judge with the future president during visits to Fargo.

Bright was among key political operatives in Burdick’s successful campaigns for federal office – first to the U.S. House of Representatives, then for the U.S. Senate. The mini-intrigue about Bright’s nomination by LBJ to the 8th Circuit is great fun for political junkies.

And after the nomination and confirmation, it was the senator who said to Bright: “Goodbye Mike, hello judge,” meaning that Judge Bright would no longer be among Burdick’s close political advisers. Thus, the title of the book.

The book is worth your time. It delves into all aspects of Bright’s life, not the least of which is his love for his family and their support for him. A man of many talents, a gracious personality, and a powerful intellect, Judge Bright’s story is an inspiring American saga.