Chief Judge Irving Sommer

Chief Judge Irving Sommer

Irving Sommer, the former Chief Judge of the Federal Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission (Review Commission), passed away on April 21, 2011, agency Chairman Thomasina Rogers regretfully announced on April 22, 2011.

“Judge Sommer ably served the Review Commission as an Administrative Law Judge for over 30 years, including 19 years as Chief Judge. He will be remembered for his great wisdom and warm humor. We will all miss him greatly,” said Chairman Rogers.

According to current Chief Judge Covette Rooney, “Judge Sommer was a strong leader who made team work a top priority as he guided the Review Commission judges to great accomplishments. His wit and words of wisdom will remain with us as we move forward.”

A native New Yorker, Chief Judge Sommer earned his undergraduate degree from City College of New York in 1943 and his law degree from Brooklyn Law School in 1948. After working in private practice for five years, he was an attorney with the City of New York from 1953 to 1965.

Chief Judge Sommer began his Federal career as an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) in 1965 with the Social Security Administration’s Bureau of Hearings and Appeals. He left that position in 1974 to become an ALJ with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Chief Judge Sommer joined the Review Commission in 1978. He served as the Assistant Chief Administrative Law Judge from 1978 until 1989 and the Deputy Chief Administrative Law Judge from 1989 until 1991. He became the Chief Administrative Law Judge of the Review Commission in 1991, and he served in that position until December 2010, when he retired.

During his career, Chief Judge Sommer also served on many legal committees. Among other positions, he served as the President of the Federal Administrative Law Judges Conference, the Chairman of the National Conference of Administrative Law Judges of the American Bar Association, and the Chairman of the Coordinating Council of National Court Organizations. He also served as a lecturer, a faculty coordinator and a faculty advisor at the National Judicial College. Chief Judge Sommer also gave lectures on evidentiary topics at the Occupational Safety and Health Training Center in Des Plaines, Illinois.

Chief Judge Sommer is survived by his wife of many years, Myra Sommer, and by a son, a daughter, and several grandchildren.