Judge Oliver was raised, along with his five brothers and four sisters, by his parents in Bessemer, Alabama, where he attended the segregated public schools.
He was appointed to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio by President Bill Clinton in 1994 and served as Chief Judge from 2010 to 2017. Judge Oliver holds a B.A. from the College of Wooster, an M.A. in political science from Case Western Reserve University, and a J.D. from New York University School of Law. From 1975 to 1976, Judge Oliver was a law clerk for the late Judge William H. Hastie of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.
Judge Oliver was an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Ohio, from 1976 to 1982,where he served as Chief of the Civil Division and Chief of Appellate Litigation. From 1982 to 1994, he was a Professor at Cleveland State University’s Cleveland-Marshall College of Law and served as Associate Dean from 1991 to 1994. He has served as a member of the teaching faculty at the Harvard Law School Trial Advocacy Workshop. He also has had the privilege of sitting by designation on the U. S. Sixth, Ninth and Third Circuit Courts of Appeal.
He is the recipient of the Distinguished Alumni Award from the College of Wooster and the Distinguished Alumni Award from the New York University Black, Latino, Asian-Pacific American Law Alumni Association. He has been inducted into the Cleveland-Marshall College of Law Hall of Fame and the Case Western Reserve University Law School’s Society of Benchers. He has received Honorary Doctor of Laws Degrees from the University of Akron and from New England School of Law|Boston. He is a member of the American Law Institute, the American Bar Foundation, and the Board of Trustees of the College of Wooster. Judge Oliver has served on the Judicial Conference of the United States, and as a member of its Civil Rules Advisory Committee and its Evidence Rules Advisory Committee.
In nominating Judge Oliver for the award, Joan Howland, Chair of the Kutak Award Committee stated:
“Few members of the legal community equal Judge Solomon Oliver in fulfilling the spirit of the Kutak Award through fostering the collaboration of the academy, the bench, and the bar. Judge Oliver is one of those rare individuals who has been a practicing lawyer in the United States Attorney’s Office, a legal educator as a professor at the Cleveland State University Cleveland-Marshall College of Law, and a member of the judiciary as a United States District Court judge. This broad and varied experience has made him an informed, astute, and pragmatic leader of the Section’s Accreditation Committee and its Council, on which he was a member from 1996 to 2005 and from 2011 to 2015, and served as Chair from 2013 to 2014. As a current representative of the Section to the ABA House of Delegates, he brings unprecedented credibility and perspective. Judge Oliver’s commitment to diversity has been a crucial factor in moving forward many critical Section initiatives related to ensuring and improving access to legal education.”
Judge Oliver will be honored at a reception on Friday, August 3, 2018, 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., at the InterContinental Chicago Magnificent Mile during the ABA Annual Meeting. The Kutak Award is presented annually to honor an individual who has made significant contributions to the collaboration of the legal academy, the bench, and the bar. The award was established in memory of Mr. Kutak, a respected Omaha lawyer, who was committed to legal reform and a strong advocate for legal education.