Volume 8, 2014
On May 9, 1980, President Jimmy Carter nominated Helen Wilson Nies for a judgeship on the United States Court of Customs and Patent Appeals (CCPA), a court that traces back to the United States Court of Customs Appeals created some 70 years earlier. When confirmed by the Senate in June 1980, Judge Nies became the first woman to serve on that court. With the creation of the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (Federal Circuit) by combining the CCPA with the United States Court of Claims in 1982, she assumed the position of Circuit Judge. Then, in June 1990, she was elevated to Chief Judge of the Federal Circuit, the first female to assume the chief judgeship of that court or either of its predecessors. She took Senior Judge status in 1994, but only was able to enjoy the additional family time it afforded for a few years. Sadly, she died in 1996 following a bicycling accident.
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