Los Angeles, CA – Professor Myrna Raeder, an esteemed member of the Southwestern Law School faculty for nearly 35 years, died of breast cancer on November 16. A prominent national figure in legal education and the advancement of criminal justice, Professor Raeder was one of the most highly regarded experts in evidence and a leading advocate for gender equity in the legal profession and the criminal justice system. She was 66.
“Myrna Raeder touched the lives of so many within the law school and the greater community over the decades,” Dean Susan Prager said. “Her work was also recognized formally and informally outside the school in multiple ways. Without question, Myrna will be greatly missed, appreciated and remembered.”
Professor Raeder garnered major recognition for her leadership, scholarship and advocacy, including one of the American Bar Association’s highest honors, the 2002 Margaret Brent Women Lawyers of Achievement Award, joining an illustrious list of honorees that includes U.S. Supreme Court Justices Sandra Day O'Connor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg. She was honored in 2003 with the Women Lawyers of Los Angeles Ernestine Stahlhut Award for her unique contributions to the community and the legal profession and was inducted into the Hunter College Hall of Fame in 2005. In early November 2013, the ABA Criminal Justice Section honored Professor Raeder with its prestigious Charles R. English Award.
In presenting the English Award, Matthew Redle, Chair of the Award Selection Committee, said, "Professor Raeder has been a tireless advocate on behalf of victims of child abuse and the wrongly accused, improving juvenile justice and supporting gender equity within the field. In a career marked by service to the criminal justice community in ways literally too numerous to mention, Myrna is a shining example of the value of subordinating the parochial interests of prosecution and defense in favor of the broader interests of justice and fairness."
Professor Raeder was involved in women’s issues since her days in law school in the 1960s when only three percent of the nation’s lawyers were female. She gave generously of her time through teaching, research and leadership, serving two terms as president of the National Association of Women Lawyers and as chair of the ABA Criminal Justice Section as well as the Association of American Law Schools Evidence Section and Section on Women in Legal Education.
In speaking of her close colleague of over 30 years, Professor Catherine Carpenter said, “Myrna was a leader among women in the academy before there were Women’s groups, and certainly before there was a critical mass of women in legal education. She embodied what it meant to be a trailblazer. Her network was vast, and was only surpassed by her knowledge and passion for women’s and children’s issues.”
Professor Raeder earned her B.A. from Hunter College, her J.D. at New York University, and her LL.M. in Trial Advocacy at Georgetown University, where she was the E. Barrett Prettyman Fellow. A member of the California and New York State and District of Columbia Bars, she served on the University of San Francisco School of Law faculty and as a litigator with O'Melveny & Myers for several years before joining the Southwestern faculty in 1979, where she taught Civil Pretrial Practice, Evidence, Trial Advocacy, and seminars on Wrongful Convictions and Youth at Risk. She was named as the Irwin R. Buchalter Professor of Law in 1991, the Paul Treusch Professor of Law in 2002, and the Justice Marshall F. McComb Professor of Law in 2008.
Dean Emeritus Leigh Taylor, who hired Professor Raeder early in his long tenure as Southwestern’s Dean, said, “Myrna was one of our most talented young faculty when she joined Southwestern and matured into a major leader of women in legal education and the law. No one was more committed to Southwestern, and no one on our faculty has received as many national awards and recognition as Myrna.”
Professor Raeder was a prolific scholar on a variety or evidentiary issues and was the author of Federal Pretrial Practice (3rd ed. 2000, Lexis Publishing) and co-author of Evidence: Cases, Materials and Problems (4th ed. 2013), among several other books and chapters, as well as more than 80 articles. Her more recent scholarship focused on gender issues raised by the federal sentencing guidelines, the impact of incarceration on women offenders and their children, correctional issues concerning women offenders, and wrongful conviction. An instructor for the National Judicial College for many years, Professor Raeder testified before judicial panels regarding revision of the Rules of Evidence and gender bias issues.
Professor David Fagundes echoed the sentiments of many on the Southwestern faculty. “I cannot count the times that, upon learning that I teach at Southwestern, colleagues throughout academia would immediately mention Myrna, and how much they knew and admired her work,” he said. “Her scholarship had an impact foremost because of its quality, but also because of its range -- Myrna was able to reach people who wrote about evidence, criminal law, women and the law, and many other fields.”
Professor Raeder and her husband of 38 years, Terry Kelly, recently provided a generous pledge of $100,000 to establish the Myrna Raeder Scholarship Endowment Fund at Southwestern. The endowment will provide scholarships for students who grew up in kinship or foster care or as the child of an incarcerated parent.
Dean Prager noted, “Professor Raeder devoted herself to Southwestern and the advancement of the law for nearly four decades. The law school community is tremendously grateful for her contributions throughout her career and for this special endowment that reflects her compassion and interest in assisting students who have overcome extraordinary life challenges to pursue their dream of a legal education.”
In addition to her husband, she is survived by her sons Tom and Mike Kelly. A memorial service in Professor Raeder’s memory will be held in January. The family has requested that donations made in her memory be to the Myrna Raeder Scholarship Endowment Fund at Southwestern. Information regarding the fund may be obtained from Associate Dean Debra Leathers at firstname.lastname@example.org.