Retired U.S. District Judge Wilbur D. Owens Jr., who served on the federal bench in the Middle Georgia district for 35 years, has died at the age of 80 after a long illness.
Owens was appointed by President Richard Nixon in 1972. He took senior status in 1995 and retired in 2007.
A graveside service is scheduled Friday at Riverside Cemetery in Macon.
Owens was born in Albany, Ga. and graduated from the University of Georgia law school in 1952. He later served in the U.S. Air Force as a prosecuting attorney.
He served as assistant U.S. attorney in Macon from 1962 until 1965, then entered private practice until his appointment to the bench.
The senior judge presided over several high-profile cases involving police corruption, school desegregation, and voting rights. He also presided over a criminal case where then-President Jimmy Carter became the first sitting president to testify while in office.
Contributors: Josephine Bennett contributed to this story