January 14, 2006
A Celebration of Life for
M. David Gelfand
Ashton Phelps Professor of Constitutional Law
Tulane University Law School
August 12, 1949 - September 25, 2005
Friends and colleagues of M. David Gelfand are invited to celebrate his life, including 25 years of distinguished service on the Tulane Law School faculty.
Sunday, January 22, 2006
Tulane Law School
6329 Freret Street
New Orleans, Louisiana 70118
Professor Gelfand was one of the country’s foremost experts on civil rights, voting rights, redistricting issues and municipal financing. In 1992, he served as the court-appointed independent expert witness who prepared the reapportionment plan that the federal court later adopted for U.S. congressional districts in Florida. He also served as Special Master in the case that resulted in the districting of the County Commission for Dade County, Florida. He also served as Special Master drawing the local government districts for Washington Parish, Louisiana and for Dade County, Florida.
True to his lifelong commitment to safeguarding legal protections for all, Professor Gelfand had just announced formation of a legal aid organization for Hurricane Katrina victims, just hours prior to his death. The New Orleans Coalition for Legal Aid and Disaster Relief was created by Gelfand and others to serve as a clearinghouse for legal information for victims of Hurricane Katrina and a watchdog group to monitor the distribution of disaster relief to New Orleanians.
“David Gelfand was a valued and productive member of the faculty at Tulane Law School for nearly 30 years and was held in the highest esteem by his colleagues and students alike,” said Lawrence Ponoroff, Dean of Tulane Law School. “He was not only an outstanding teacher and scholar, but also an active proponent of equal justice under the law and a crusader for civil rights. We are all deeply saddened by this loss and extend our heartfelt sympathies to David’s wife, Mary, and their daughter, Katie,” said Ponoroff.
“David was a true champion of racial equality and social justice in New Orleans and across the country,” said Wendy Scott, Vice Dean for Academic Affairs, Tulane Law School. “He became my mentor and friend during my first days on the faculty over 16 years ago. His scholarship and advocacy were seamless--whatever he wrote about or taught, he worked to turn theory into practice. I know I speak for the law school, the university and the New Orleans community when I say that we will miss David and his passion for the law,” Scott said.
Professor Gelfand authored several books and articles on constitutional issues, voting rights, and municipal finance. He was the senior editor, organizer, and author of several chapters of State and Local Government Debt Financing (West Group, 1991), a three-volume treatise and author of State and Local Taxation and Finance in a Nutshell (West, 2nd ed., 2000), as well as Constitutional Litigation Under § 1983: A Treatise for City Attorneys, Public Interest Litigators, and Students (Lexis/Michie, 1996).
Professor Gelfand was honored by the American Civil Liberties Union and other organizations for his work in bringing constitutional test cases. He drafted numerous state statutes in the field of social services, represented city agencies in drafting and negotiating open access and affirmative action programs, and lectured on constitutional law at universities around the world.
He was born in Buffalo, New York. He moved to St. Petersburg, Florida in 1960 and was a magna cum laude graduate and valedictorian of Dixie Hollins High School. He obtained his law degree from Columbia Law School and was Phi Beta Kappa from Columbia College of Columbia University. He earned a Masters of Philosophy from Oxford University.
He is survived by his wife, Mary, their daughter, Katie and his mother Ann Malmer.