This annual lecture honors David Aldrich Nelson and is held every year on Constitution Day (September 17). The inaugural lecture held September 17, 2008 and was given by the Honorable Jeffrey S. Sutton, judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit and Judge Nelson’s successor.
Judge Nelson was graduated from Hamilton College, 1954, valedictorian of his class. He attended the Harvard Law School and read law as a Fulbright Scholar at Cambridge University, in England. He began the practice of law with Squire, Sanders & Dempsey in Cleveland, Ohio, and served on active duty at the Pentagon as an attorney in the Office of the General Counsel of the Secretary of the Air Force. President Nixon appointed him General Counsel of the Post Office Department in 1969, and he later became Senior Assistant Postmaster General and General Counsel of the reorganized United States Postal Service. He rejoined his former law firm in 1972, remaining with it until President Reagan appointed him to the bench in 1985. Judge Nelson took senior status in 1999, but continued to hear cases until he closed his chambers in 2006. Judge Nelson was a member of Phi Beta Kappa, a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers, a Life Fellow of the Ohio State Bar Foundation, and a Sergeant Emeritus of the Court of Nisi Prius in Cleveland. He served in the past as a member of the National Council of the Ohio State University College of Law, a trustee of Hamilton College, and a director of Blount, Inc. At the time of his death he was a director of the Alexander Hamilton Institute for the Study of Western Civilization, based in Clinton, New York.