Former federal judge Marvin Shoob dies at age 94

Marvin Shoob, the embodiment of an independent federal judiciary and a jurist who consistently protected the powerless and disadvantaged, died Monday at his home in Atlanta. He was 94.

Shoob retired in February 2016 as a senior U.S. District Court judge after 36 years on the


“It has been an honor and privilege to serve as a United States district judge,” Shoob wrote in a letter, announcing his retirement. “For this opportunity, I am most grateful.”

His daughter, former Fulton County Superior Court Judge Wendy Shoob, said her father passed away surrounded by family members. His health had been failing in recent months, she said.

"He was the greatest dad, among all his other accomplishments," Wendy Shoob said.

A memorial service is to be held Friday at 2 p.m. at The Temple, 1589 Peachtree St., Atlanta, GA 30309.

Read and sign the online guestbook for Judge Marvin Shoob

Shoob was appointed to the federal bench by President Jimmy Carter in 1979.

Among his most noteworthy decisions, Shoob ruled licensed firearms owners could not carry guns into parts of Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport; Fulton County had to improve conditions at his overcrowded, dangerous jail; Cobb County had to remove its Ten Commandments display at its courthouse; and Georgia had to place residents with development disabilities into community settings, not making them institutionalized -- a ruling upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1999.

"He was a great trial judge and had a very strong sense of what was right and wrong," said Senior U.S. District Court Judge Willis Hunt, who practiced law with Shoob for six years in the 1960s and was later his colleague on the federal bench.

Shoob, Hunt noted, was an exceptional trial lawyer before he became a judge.

"He gave extremely valuable advice to corporate clients and tried cases before juries on behalf of both plaintiffs and defendants," Hunt said. "That made him all the better as a judge."

Shoob saw things "in the light of what good could be done for people who needed help," Hunt added. "He was an amazing individual and one of the most gracious people I've ever met."

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About the Author

Bill Rankin
Bill Rankin
Bill Rankin covers criminal justice, the death penalty and legal affairs. He also hosts the AJC’s “Breakdown” podcast.