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Richard M. Schmidt Jr. (1924-2004)

MLRC’s First Amendment Leadership Award Recipient, 2002

SchmidtRichard M. Schmidt Jr. has often been referred to as the "Dean" of the First Amendment and media bar in Washington D.C. He was first, and he was foremost, in organizing media organizations and associations on a vast range of key issues – indeed, in recognizing the need for a collective dialogue and approach to key issues. Dick’s expertise and his incredible skills can be found behind countless legislative, amicus and other efforts of media over the last thirty plus years.

He started out in broadcasting in Denver, Colorado in the 1940's. He went to law school in Denver, and practiced in Colorado from 1949 through 1965, serving as President of the Denver Bar Association from 1963-64, among other bar and government advisory commissions during his tenure in Colorado. Dick had a keynote role in bringing cameras to Colorado courtrooms in 1956, one of the first states to allow cameras.

He first came to Washington at the request of Senator Stuart Symington to serve as counsel to a Senate Committee investigating grain storage fraud. After returning to Colorado one year later, he traveled east again to become General Counsel and Congressional Liaison for the U.S. Information Agency in 1965 - 1968 and then to practice law with Cohn and Marks in D.C. where he is currently Of Counsel. He has been General Counsel to the American Society of Newspaper Editors since 1969 and in that role was one of the participants in the founding of LDRC.

Dick was the first Chair of the ABA Forum Committee on Communications Law from 1979-81, and a Member of its Governing Board from 1981-84. He has been a member of the ABA National Conference of Lawyers and Representatives of the Media since 1983, and was also on the ABA Task Force on Courts and the Public, 1974-76, as well as numerous other ABA Committees.

Dick has been Chairman of the Communications Law Institute of Catholic University College of Law since 1983 and a member of the Advisory Board of the University of Colorado School of Journalism and Mass Communications since 1991.

A member of the Board of Trustees of the National Press Foundation since 1983, he is also a member of the Board of Directors of the Broadcast Pioneers Library Foundation since 1989.

He got his A.B. and J.D. from the University of Denver and was a member of that university’s Board of Trustees from 1964-1980, becoming an Honorary Life Trustee in 1980.

When LDRC created its Legislative Affairs Committee several years ago, it was the universal and enthusiastically held consensus that Dick Schmidt had to be its first leadership. No one in D.C. holds a higher level of esteem, and genuine affection, from his colleagues than does Dick Schmidt.

As published in the October 2002 LDRC LibelLetter | Photo courtesy American Society of Newspaper Editors

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