News & Announcements

Fourth Circuit Announces Passing of Samuel W. Phillips, Former Circuit Executive

January 20, 2022
The Circuit Executive for the Fourth Circuit, James Ishida, announced today the passing of his colleague and predecessor, Samuel W. Phillips. 

Mr. Phillips was the Fourth Circuit Executive for more than 45 years, retiring in May 2017. He was one of the original circuit executive appointees when the Circuit Executive Act was passed in 1971. Before that, Mr. Phillips served as clerk of court and an assistant U.S. attorney. In his retirement letter, Mr. Phillips penned that “words do not exist to adequately describe” his passion for the Court, but that it was now the proper moment to spend more time with his beloved wife.

James Ishida stated, "I recall Albert Schweitzer, who once voiced, “[t]he three most important ways to lead people are: by example… by example… by example….” Mr. Phillips certainly set a good example for me by his love for, commitment, and dedication to the Fourth Circuit, Court of Appeals, and judiciary. We salute his long and distinguished career of public service; we have truly witnessed the passing of an era."

There are no immediate plans for a memorial service.