Jan 8, 1944-Nov 17, 2019
Judge David Douglas Kerman was praised and respected by bench and bar for his encyclopedic knowledge of the law, his brilliant legal mind and his wise counsel to judges, attorneys and litigants alike. His love for the law was passionate and complete. He believed deeply in its vitality and purpose, and remained devoted to it to the last.
Although Massachusetts law requires judges to retire at 70, the Supreme Judicial Court recalled Judge Kerman, and he continued to serve until his sudden death. He was on his way to work at the Northeast Housing Court in Salem, MA when he suffered a massive stroke. He died five days later on November 17, 2019. He was 75.
Governor Michael Dukakis appointed Judge Kerman in 1990 to the newly create Northeast Housing Court in Lawrence, MA. Judge Kerman had worked in Legal Services in Syracuse, NY, and Lynn, MA for over 20 years and was committed to establishing a court that dealt fairly and compassionately with litigants before it. He was on the faculty of the National Institute for Trial Advocacy for many years and coached high school students at Lynn Classical High School in the Massachusetts Bar Association’s annual mock trial competition.
Judge Kerman was born on January 8, 1944 to Ruth Rice Kerman and Dr. Herbert David Kerman in Durham, NC. Although Judge Kerman lived in New England, he was acutely aware of his southern roots and became a devoted scholar of the causes of the Civil War and the presidency of Abraham Lincoln. Two of his great-great-grandfathers served in the Civil War: one a surgeon in the Army of Northern Virginia, the other in the Union Army.
After graduating from Duke University in 1965, Judge Kerman served two years as a Peace Corps Volunteer, teaching school in eastern Turkey. There, he met his future wife, Jura Strimaitis, also a Peace Corps Volunteer. They married in 1972 after Judge Kerman received his law degree from Syracuse University School of Law. His work as the Director of Neighborhood Legal services in Lynn, MA brought the couple to Swampscott.
Judge Kerman was an avid sailor from boyhood and raced in a number of fleets, including the 505s in Marblehead. He played and coached soccer and was the president for a time of the Swampscott Youth Association. His passion for Argentine Tango exploded by chance but was all-encompassing. He and Jura took Tango classes in the Boston area and in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Judge Kerman was an avid student of Tango’s complex and rich instrumentation, its originality and its cultural and historic roots.
In addition to his wife, he leaves his brothers Jeffry, Stephen, and Michael of Ormand Beach, FL, Port Orange, FL, and Atlanta, GA respectively; his nephew and namesake David Whitcomb Kerman, an attorney in Atlanta, GA; and eight additional nephews and nieces. A public Memorial Service at the Northeast Housing Court in Salem is planned for May 2020. His name will be added to a family memorial bench in the Duke University Gardens in Durham, NC beside the names of his parents.