Hon. John Robert Fisher
Oral History Text & Documentation
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A Summary of the Oral History of Judge John R. Fisher
By John V. Geise, Esq.
Based on Judge John Robert Fisher’s Oral History for the D.C. Circuit Historical Society
Judge John R. Fisher has spent a career in public service shaping the law of the District of Columbia – first as a skilled advocate for the government, and now as a Judge of the District of Columbia Court of Appeals.
Judge Fisher’s oral history, completed in 2011, explains how, as chief of the Appellate Division of the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Judge Fisher choreographed the government’s strategy in criminal cases in the D.C. Circuit and the D.C. Court of Appeals. His post as appellate chief involved not only editing hundreds of briefs but, just as important, training young lawyers and dealing with numerous difficult issues in the midst of their trials.
The oral history provides the chance to understand how a gifted appellate lawyer approaches his craft. Of particular interest are insights based on Judge Fisher’s work personally handling some of the most challenging criminal appeals, including the convictions of Congressman Dan Rostenkowski for corruption and Jonathan Pollard for espionage.
Another area explored in the history is Judge Fisher’s transition from advocate to judge.
Finally, Judge Fisher’s is a story of how a love of reading led from growing up on a farm in rural Ohio to being the first in his high school to go to Harvard College and Harvard Law School.
Note: The author of this summary, a former AUSA in the District of Columbia, often benefitted – like so many other prosecutors – from then-appellate chief Fisher’s wise guidance.