This year the Colorado Law community said goodbye to a true friend and legendary public servant, Fred G. Folsom, Jr. Folsom was born in 1914 in Boulder, Colorado, where his father was a law professor and coach of the football team at the University of Colorado. Folsom graduated from the University of Colorado in 1936, and earned his law degree from Colorado Law in 1938. Shortly after finishing law school, Folsom moved to Washington, D.C. to work as an attorney for the Department of Justice. He also served in the U.S. Army’s Judge Advocate General’s Corps during World War II.
One of Folsom’s greatest legacies from his career in the Department of Justice was the creation of a civil rights section, which grew out of a memo from Folsom to the Attorney General. Folsom argued that since the Attorney General served “all people,” the Department needed a section to focus on protecting civil rights. Folsom worked as the assistant chief of the civil rights section during the early 1940’s, and served as the section’s acting chief from 1947 to 1961. From 1961 until his retirement in 1972, Folsom was chief of the tax division’s criminal section.
As a trusted and loyal public servant, Folsom was frequently called upon to work in number of special capacities. He served as one of the staff attorneys on the Special Inquiry Group for the accident at the Three Mile Island nuclear plant. He was an advisor for the House Judiciary Committee’s 1974 inquiry into President Richard Nixon’s tax returns. Most notably, Folsom was the leader of the 1976 task force formed by the Attorney General to review the FBI’s handling of the Martin Luther King, Jr. assassination investigation.
Folsom travelled to the White House in 2010 to be honored by President Barack Obama for his early work in civil rights. Folsom’s life and career were a testament to the importance of public service. Colorado Law is honored to call him one of its own, and carry his legacy forward.