J. Edgar Murdock Award
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Special Trial Judge Receives Tax Court’s Highest Award

On November 21, 2021, the US Tax Court announced that Special Trial Judge Daniel A. Guy, Jr., received the J. Edgar Murdock Award for his distinguished service to the Tax Court. The Murdock Award commemorates Judge John Edgar Murdock, who served on the Tax Court from 1926 to 1968 and has been described as probably the most influential person to serve on it. A story recited in the publication referenced below (and which may be more folklore than fact) is that a taxpayer once concluded their argument before Judge Murdock saying, “as God is my judge I do not owe this tax,” and Judge Murdock retorted, “He isn’t, I am, and you do.” Further background on Judge Murdock can be found here.

The Murdock Award is the highest honor bestowed by the Tax Court. It has been presented only 13 times since its creation in 1973, with the most recent recipients being former Chief Special Trial Judge Peter J. Panuthos (2012), former Judge Robert P. Ruwe (2012) and current Chief Special Trial Judge Lewis R. Carluzzo (2020).

The Tax Court is composed of 19 presidentially appointed members and also includes senior judges serving in recall and special trial judges. As explained in the publication “The United States Tax Court: A Historical Analysis” (2d ed. 2014), the Tax Court established a small tax case division following statutory changes made in the Tax Reform Act of 1969. The purpose of special trial judges is to lessen the workload of the Tax Court and allow these judges to hear cases with smaller amounts in controversy. The range of cases that may be assigned to a special trial judge has expanded over the years, and they play an important role in the tax judicial system.

Special Trial Judge Daniel has served the Tax Court in various roles, ranging from law clerk to general counsel, for more than 30 years. He was appointed as a Special Trial Judge on May 31, 2012. Partners Andrew Roberson and Kevin Spencer worked with Special Trial Judge Daniel when they clerked at the Tax Court and saw the invaluable services he provided firsthand. McDermott congratulates him on this well-deserved honor.




The End of an Era—Senior Judge Robert P. Ruwe Retires from US Tax Court

The US Tax Court (Tax Court) recently announced that Senior Judge Robert P. Ruwe has fully retired as of November 25, 2020, after more than 33 years on the bench. Judge Ruwe graduated from Xavier University and was first in his class in law school at the Salmon P. Chase College of Law. He then joined the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), where he held various positions, including Director, Tax Litigation Division. Judge Ruwe was appointed to the Tax Court in 1987 and, after his 15-year term expired, he served as a senior judge. In 2012, Judge Ruwe received the J. Edgar Murdock Award for his distinguished service to the Tax Court.

At the time of his retirement, Judge Ruwe had authored hundreds of opinions, including many noteworthy concurrences and dissents. Some memorable ones include: (i) Rauenhorst v. Commissioner, 119 TC 157 (2002) (holding that the IRS was bound by its position in published guidance, and treating that position as a concession); (ii) Rhone-Poulenc Surfactants and Specialties, L.P. v. Commissioner, 114 TC 533 (2000) and GAF Corp. v. Commissioner, 114 TC 519 (2000) (addressing complex Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act (TEFRA) statute of limitations issues); Turner Broad. Sys. Inc. v. Commissioner, 111 TC 315 (1998) (requiring IRS to account for all the results of a transaction when seeking to recharacterize it); and (iv) Wayne Bolt & Nut Co. v. Commissioner, 93 TC 500 (1989) (accounting method changes).

We both served as attorney-advisors for Judge Ruwe in the early 2000s, and benefited significantly from his experience and wisdom. He was an excellent teacher and mentor to us during our time at the Tax Court, taking the time to explain the law and ways in which we could improve our research and writing skills. His grasp and memory of the tax law were extraordinary—he would frequently mention a legal principle and then cite us to the exact TC volume containing the case stating that principle. Additionally, he was interested in our personal lives, and we frequently took long walks with him throughout downtown Washington, DC, discussing not only pending cases but also topics like US history, sports and our families. We wish Judge Ruwe all the best in his retirement!




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