David B. Sentelle Sixth Interview: January 16, 2004Dawn Bellinger2022-04-28T11:32:45-04:00
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281 ORAL HISTORY OF THE HONORABLE DAVID B. SENTELLE Sixth Interview January 16, 2004 This interview is being conducted on behalf of the Oral History Project of the Historical Society of the District of Columbia Circuit. The interviewee is the Honorable David B. Sentelle, Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. The interviewer is David Frederick. The interview took place on January 16, 2004. This is the sixth interview. MR. FREDERICK: It is January 16, 2004. As we were getting set up here, we were talking a little bit about the historic Microsoft case and the second appeal of that case and you were commenting on how the oral argument was a very different kind of experience. JUDGE SENTELLE: Well, it’s much shorter, much less broad-ranging. The first time around there was a world of economic issues, antitrust issues. This time it’s down to the complaints of a disgruntled few, particularly the state of Massachusetts or West Virginia following the settlement and the competitors bringing an intervener appeal from settlement. So it’s a much easier review. We did it in one long sitting this time whereas it was two days last time. Of course, the case itself is in the bosom of the court and I can’t tell you how it came out. MR. FREDERICK: The first time around, the court adopted some very innovative procedures with respect to the briefing and oral argument. Can you comment on what led to those procedures? JUDGE SENTELLE: Well, we have a technology today that makes it possible to access research and evidence from your laptop computer and we thought if there were any parties that could furnish us with the CD versions of the 282 brief, it should be the United States Antitrust Division and the Microsoft Corporation, so we made them file on CD hyperlinked to the authorities cited and the evidence cited. We could sit on the bench and go back and forth between record and authorities while we were in oral argument. MR. FREDERICK: Did the court have any idea how expensive and burdensome that was for the parties? JUDGE SENTELLE: Well, on the one hand we knew it was expensive and burdensome. On the other hand, we also knew that a) the U.S. Government and Microsoft have substantially bottomless pockets and b) they have the resources to do it a lot cheaper than most parties would be able to. Since we do believe that the future is in that direction and since there are other courts using that technology, we had no guilt feelings about increasing the efficiency of the process at the expense of the litigants. MR. FREDERICK: How did you personally use that hyperlink capability? Did you find yourself going back and forth between the record evidence and the brief? JUDGE SENTELLE: Much more between the authorities cited in the brief. I won’t name a lawyer who quoted something completely out of context that didn’t sound right to me and I jumped to the Supreme Court decision he was quoting and read back to him the context it came in. I would have been suspicious without the hyperlink and I probably could have got there 283 through Westlaw, but it was a lot quicker to be able to link than it would have been to have to get to Westlaw and then query. MR. FREDERICK: With a case that voluminous and judges having laptops on their desks, it was a terrifying experience for the advocates to be so exposed at oral argument. JUDGE SENTELLE: ’m sure. MR. FREDERICK: Can you describe any of the process after the argument because it was a per curiam decision, unanimous? JUDGE SENTELLE: Yes, I have to be very careful about not pulling the curtain further back than the court would wish. But I would say that it was a true per curiam. Everyone on that panel – there were seven of us as you will recall – everyone on that panel wrote a portion of that opinion. Every portion circulated and underwent scrutiny and suggested changes by the other six until we finally – after much revision and much conference and much e-mailing and memo-ing back and forth – reached an opinion that we thought every one of us could in good conscience sign onto. MR. FREDERICK: At what point did the court settle on that process for writing the opinion? JUDGE SENTELLE: I think Chief Judge Edwards had it in mind from the time the case came in, David. He proposed that we en banc ab initio to begin with because there were so many recusals that if we didn’t, we’d get in a position where it would be impossible for the court to have an en banc review. If you had three panel judges, you couldn’t get a majority once you 284 added the recusals and the three. No one could say it depended on the luck of the draw if we started with every judge who was not recused. And from that beginning, we knew that we had to have a substantial majority of the seven so that, again, we would have an unassailably legitimate decision on a case whose economic significance just can’t be overstated. As you know, what happened in that case determined several points on the stock market for years to come and the future of whole segments of the IT industry. We would have needed to have – I don’t mean to be too over-reaching in comparison, but like Earl Warren thought he had to have unanimity, if possible, on Brown v. Board of Education. We had nothing of that scope, of course, but we had a pygmy version of that in that we thought we had to have something that would be unassailable in its legitimacy. And, of course, the Supreme Court did not grant certiorari on ours. MR. FREDERICK: Well the decision to go en banc was announced kind of contemporaneously with the Government’s effort to have the Supreme Court review the case. What dynamics played into the court’s timing of its decision to go en banc at that point? JUDGE SENTELLE: I don’t know that we were particularly influenced by anything outside of what I already said, David. We wanted to do it as early as possible and we did. We virtually could not have announced it any earlier than we did. On the other hand, we did not want to delay. We did not want anybody to be able to think that anything had triggered it. It was a 285 decision that had not been made in this court since, I’m told, during the Watergate era when there was a case during the Nixon scandal in which the court decided to en banc ab initio. This is the first time we have done it since then, except when we’re dealing into those odd statutes that require us to. MR. FREDERICK: The parties proposed an oral argument schedule that the court ultimately rejected. The court actually expanded the time for oral argument. JUDGE SENTELLE: Highly unusual for us. I don’t recall ever doing that before. MR. FREDERICK: Did you think, in retrospect, that the amount of oral argument time was adequate to address the issues? JUDGE SENTELLE: Yes, I think it was about right. I’m glad we had not given any less, but I don’t think we needed a lot more. MR. FREDERICK: It was a very tightly controlled oral argument, unlike some oral arguments where the red light comes on and the court asks more questions. Had that been prearranged or did that just happen at the time of the argument? JUDGE SENTELLE: I don’t know that prearranged may not be too strong of a word, but it was pretty well understood that Judge Edwards was going to run a tighter ship than we do on three-judge panels usually. That’s not unique. Judge Randolph and Tatel and I had a complex case in the FERC area, for example, where we had an all-day schedule of arguments with a one-hour lunch break. We discussed it ahead of time 286 and I said that if nobody objected, I intended to cut a lawyer off, as Bill Rehnquist says, in the middle of the word, “if” when the red light went off so that we could stay on schedule. When you have a long schedule like that, it’s more important to not let it get out of hand. When we have the usual three-judge courts with three or four cases in a day, it tends to be what Spottswood Robinson said, that “those lights only control the bar; God controls this bench.” I don’t think there’s any harm in the way the judges do ordinarily continue to interact if we’re getting somewhere interacting. So, unlike some courts, we do extend time very often. But Microsoft was not the case for that. Particularly since we were all seven sitting. MR. FREDERICK: How did the conference proceed in that case? How long did it take the court to work through the issues among the seven judges? JUDGE SENTELLE: Hours for the first time through. We did sit down all of us together at least one time after that. We mostly communicated by memos and emails after that. But the first conference was several hours. We all had our outlines of what we thought on each issue and we started with the most junior and, theoretically, were going to go in an orderly fashion from the most junior up through the chief and it didn’t necessarily stay that way because we kept jumping in on each other’s conversations. Which is all right. We worked out an initial disposition of every issue except a couple of the most complex economic ones at that session. The parts of the opinion were assigned and then everyone understood 287 that everything that we had done was tentative. When the opinion circulated, every subject was still on the table. And we all circulated our parts as we got them finished and then we all revised them according to the notes and there were times when it did not look like we could stay unanimous on an issue or two. Even after we got past the point of thinking there might be a dissent, we got to a point where we might not have been unanimous on a rationale. But we finally got something everybody could, in good conscience, sign onto. That may be the crowning achievement of the already admirable administration of Harry Edwards as chief judge. MR. FREDERICK: I think most observers would perceive it that way. Particularly given what had happened at the trial with Judge Jackson’s subsequent comments and the different perspectives of the judges on the D.C. Circuit towards antitrust issues and economic competition issues. Can you describe what the points of greatest contention were among the judges? JUDGE SENTELLE: I don’t think that would be proper, David. I think I’ve really said as much as I can say about that. I remember one interesting thing before it. More than one news media outlet referred to Doug and Steve and I, that our views were well-known on antitrust law because of our extensive writings. Now that’s true of Doug and Steve. I never published the first word on antitrust. I did some antitrust litigation, but the only things I ever wrote in antitrust law were motions papers. I 288 never published a word of it, but somehow or other, some of the news media had the idea that I had written on it like Doug and Steve. Of course, Doug is a guru of antitrust law and Steve is a legal economist of great note. MR. FREDERICK: Leaving aside the comments that Judge Jackson made, how did you assess the district court’s handling of this complex matter in a couple of respects: the speed of getting it to trial, the handling of the findings of fact in the written form that they were done, the use of written direct testimony with just the trial for cross-examination. As a district judge, I wonder how you’d perceive that? JUDGE SENTELLE: I think he worked hard and attempted and, to some extent, achieved a good level of efficiency by the way he handled it, David, and I’m sorry that the controversy arose and that he said what he did after it was over. But, as far as his efficiency and professionalism in handling that case, I could have seen that case in the wrong court having dragged on for additional years with probably a few mandamus petitions along the way. And, also, I think the use of that written testimony probably isn’t done enough. That is a very good way to handle expert testimony and most of this amounted to expert testimony. Have your expert file the statement, a pre-trial deposition if necessary, and then all the court is going to be is, at most, cross-examination. Judges can read. I’ve seen people in trial courts and you probably have seen records where some attorney would ask a witness to read something into the record in a non- 289 jury trial, which is absurd. Hand me the document. Don’t read it into the record. I’ll read it during the recess. Tom didn’t permit any of that to go on. He kept things efficient and moving. He had a very hard job. District judges have a harder job than circuit judges have. They start from scratch and deal with real people in real time. We start with a record, we know what the issues are in advance. There’s no spontaneous surprise – virtually none at all. And we don’t have to operate in real time. There’s not a whole courtroom full of people waiting for a result. MR. FREDERICK: Just at a general level, because you were a district judge and Chief Judge Ginsburg had headed the Antitrust Division, I would have thought that the en banc court brought a range of perspectives to the case. Without talking about the decision making, how, if at all, did the discussions of the case affect your thinking about the law or antitrust or economic competition? JUDGE SENTELLE: Having the depth and breadth of Judge Ginsburg, in particular, and also Judge Williams’s knowledge of legal economics and antitrust, I think, benefitted all the rest of us. Not that they always agreed on everything, but they brought a keen understanding without the necessity of study time to the issues that the rest of us greatly benefitted from. My time in the district court, I think – and Ray Randolph’s time as a trial lawyer – helped with the perspective of understanding what happened below. I think having the range of judges on the panel was extremely helpful. 290 MR. FREDERICK: Did you have any surprises about how the Antitrust Division handled the case as it proceeded up to the D.C. Circuit? JUDGE SENTELLE: I’m trying to remember now what the interaction was with that attempt to take the thing to the Supreme Court right off. Who initiated that, do you recall? MR. FREDERICK: Well, it was during Joel Klein’s time as Assistant Attorney General. JUDGE SENTELLE: And I don’t know what was going on there. That was a little strange. As far as the handling of the case itself, I think it was one that almost any administration would have brought and continued. The relief prayed by different administrations is going to be different, but it was something that had to be done. Much like the trust-busting cases of the early twentieth century, there was just a point at which if we’re going to have antitrust laws, they ought to be enforced. MR. FREDERICK: In your time on the D.C. Circuit, have there been any other cases that have come close to Microsoft in terms of the level of attention the court has paid to it and how the court has worked the issues in the case? JUDGE SENTELLE: Well, it’s the only case, as I mentioned earlier, that was en banc ab initio except for there’s an odd quirk in the election finance law statute where we have to take that en banc ab initio. So in that sense, David, it got the most attention of the full court of any case since I’ve been here. We’ve en banc’ed other cases, but they were down to narrow issues with the sides pretty well staked out when they came to the en banc court. This is something where we all started from a record and 291 reached a conclusion by a grinding down process. Now, unfortunately there were several recusals. So, of course, obviously Judge Henderson was not engaged or Judge Garland. Judge Silberman was still a judge when it started, but he was recused so he was not involved. Although he told us later that since we simulcast the argument that he had listened to the argument and was very proud that he had such an intelligent and professional bunch of colleagues. He said he felt really good listening to the argument. MR. FREDERICK: I heard several people make the comment that the court had been very hard on the lawyers because the questioning was quite active. My own personal reaction was that it was a typical kind of appellate argument and the comments that I received were from laypersons who didn’t ordinarily attend oral arguments. But I wonder if the court got any popular feedback about its conduct at the argument. JUDGE SENTELLE: No, not really. Other than Larry Silberman’s comment, other people that said anything just said it was interesting. I had a son-in-law who came all the way from Texas to hear the arguments. He sat in the courtroom and heard the arguments. He was an interesting fellow himself. Although he was in his thirties, he was still in college and was studying business and economics. He found it very interesting. But as far as the public at large, people don’t tell us things like that much. Most of the feedback you get as a judge is in written media and they 292 had very little to say about us. They had some things to say, but nothing of any importance to say about how we did it. MR. FREDERICK: I recall one comment being made about the number of concessions that the Government made at oral argument. JUDGE SENTELLE: Of course, that’s something we try to do. Every concession narrows the issue. And if we can get the parties to narrow the ground, then we’d like to do that. You’ve seen, I’m sure, a lot rougher treatment of lawyers than we did there. En banc courts are rough inherently. The couple of times that I argued to the Fourth Circuit en banc, the same lawyer and I were on opposite sides both times and we said we felt like the only worm in a hen yard. They were pecking at you from all sides. But you take a three-judge panel with, say, Judge Edwards and Judge Silberman, and me on a bad day and we can beat up somebody a lot worse than anybody got beat up in that case. Nobody left crying or passed out or anything. MR. FREDERICK: All seasoned lawyers who argued in that case. JUDGE SENTELLE: Yes, there weren’t any amateurs in that case. I’m not going to go any further than what I’m about to say, but not everybody in that case did as well as we’d hoped they would in oral argument. I got referred to as a curmudgeon by the Post for jumping on a lawyer for his reading of his oral argument, which is against our rules, and that kind of thing is disappointing. When you have lawyers who you know are making as 293 much per hour as all of the judges on the bench put together and then they stand up there and read an argument in violation of the rules. MR. FREDERICK: I’d like to turn to more general questions. I’ll just ask, from your perspective, what are the qualities of a good judge? JUDGE SENTELLE: Of course, I’ve been three different kinds of a judge, David, and I think they vary some in each place. A trial judge has to have the often inconsistent characteristics of a) patience, but b) firmness in maintaining a schedule and a pace of litigation. You still have to be patient with people, but you have to move them along. A trial judge has to be able to act in real time, to be able to reach decisions quickly. Fairness is an overriding characteristic of the whole judiciary that you have to attempt to be fair and be capable of being as fair as humans can be. In the appellate court, patience is much less necessary. You have to be able to sit and read and think for long periods of time to be on an appellate court successfully. You have to be able to interact in a different way than trial judges do because trial judges, as Judge Sam Ervin said, “You can be a judge all by yourself. On an appellate court, you have to convince two other reprobates,” so you have a different kind of collegiality involved in an appellate court. Intelligence is important, but you don’t have to be a genius. Being a genius helps, like Doug or Steve, and maybe Harry, but the rest of us aren’t geniuses. Does that answer your question? 294 MR. FREDERICK: Sure. What do you think are the qualities of a good lawyer? JUDGE SENTELLE: On a very specific note, being able to answer the question that you’re asked instead of some other question. And, again, Silberman points out at times that the skills of a trial lawyer and an appellate lawyer can be very different. He thinks you can’t be a good trial and an appellate lawyer. I think some lawyers can, but not too many. Both have to know the value of preparation. You cannot be a good lawyer and wing it. You have to be diligent, you have to be thoughtful, you have to be prepared. Trial lawyers have to be able to react. You’ve got to be able to object when the question’s asked and decide why on the way to your feet. You’ve got to be able to roll with the punch. When the witness gives an answer that you weren’t expecting, you have to be able to do something other than stand there with your mouth open. Larry Silberman says that trial lawyers are more like surgeons and appellate lawyers are more like diagnosticians. A trial lawyer has got to cut then and not let the bleeding get too far; the appellate lawyer’s got time to look things over and think about them. Rarely should an appellate lawyer be surprised by a question that a court asks. If you see an appellate lawyer surprised, most of the time he hasn’t done his preparation. MR. FREDERICK: How about an administrator? What are the qualities of a good administrator? 295 JUDGE SENTELLE: I don’t know, I’ve never been one. You’ve got to be able to work with people. Again, you have to be able to maintain a schedule. You have to not be easily distracted. The people around the Supreme Court – I don’t mean as much the justices as their staff – talk about how when Warren Burger was Chief Justice, they used to have these meetings every month. By Tuesday or Wednesday, they’d get through with the business that needed to be handled. Bill Rehnquist came in and they leave for lunch after they’ve finished the same amount of business and it’s a lot more efficiently handled than it was in two-and-a-half days with his predecessor. So you have to be able to devote attention to details without letting them eat you alive. MR. FREDERICK: How about at the court staff level, like at the clerk’s office or the circuit executive. What are the qualities that make them successful? JUDGE SENTELLE: We have the best clerk here we’ve ever had by far. Part of that is you have to know what you can handle and what you have to delegate and know how to not let the delegable duties distract you from the nondelegable part. We had one in the past one time who – that clerk served as ex efficio as my clerk for the Special Division for Independent Counsel, also. We had one in the past who did me a great job, but his own office was in disarray because the work for me was interesting to him and he got his big office in a mess. Mark came in, appointed one of his deputies to deal with the independent counsel matters, and he did not let it distract him from his running of the office. You have to 296 understand what you can delegate, know who you can delegate to, and keep an eye on them but not keep your finger in their way all the time. As I say, I’m not experienced as an administrator. I’m not the right person to tell you a whole lot about that, but that’s the generality of how I see it. MR. FREDERICK: How have the demands on the D.C. Circuit changed since you were appointed? JUDGE SENTELLE: The style of the caseload has gone back and forth. The balance between administrative law and traditional federal litigation, particularly criminal, moved in the litigation direction for a while, then it shifted back to where now we’re back to where the ad law is a bigger percentage of the load. It’s always been the biggest thing, but how big it is has shifted back and forth. MR. FREDERICK: What do you think accounts for that shift? JUDGE SENTELLE: Part of it is who is U.S. Attorney. What attitude does the U.S. Attorney and the Department of Justice have about which cases should be brought to the federal side? Jay Stevens brought cases over here that U.S. Attorneys before and after have taken to Superior Court. And that affected the percentage of the load. MR. FREDERICK: What explanation would you give for his doing that? JUDGE SENTELLE: I think he really thought that he could do something about the drug problem. And he thought he could do more about it by having the federal sentences. I have to say I seriously questioned whether twenty 297 years deters any more drug dealers than ten years does. So we got cases over here then and we’re getting some now that I think could easily be handled on the other side of the street and more efficiently. Their boat’s bigger. Both boats get swamped sometimes, but their boat’s a lot bigger than ours and they operate more efficiently on the criminal trial level than our district court does. Therefore, the appeals that come up are probably in better shape. MR. FREDERICK: Sitting here in 2004, what is the chief problem facing the D.C. Circuit, if any? JUDGE SENTELLE: You know, I really can’t think of a major problem we have right now. We could use one or two more judges, but we’ll manage without them. As you’re aware, we have twelve allocated judgeships and we have nine people in them. We don’t need twelve, but we do need ten and we could use eleven. MR. FREDERICK: I want to shift to the trial process a little bit and to get you to talk from several different perspectives about the jury system and what your opinion is of how the jury system functions in our system. And you can do it from the perspective of the prosecutor, a trial judge, and an appellate judge. JUDGE SENTELLE: I’m going to drop back to North Carolina where my greatest experience was with jury trials. The longer I was involved, the more I became convinced that juries almost entirely got the right result based on the case in front of them. The times I disagreed with them, almost without 298 exception, when years had passed and I looked back I thought, “Well, based on what went in front of that jury, they did what they should have done.” I lost very few jury cases as a prosecutor. I lost a few. If you don’t lose some now and then, you’re settling too cheap. You’re not authorizing tough enough cases. But the ones I did lose, almost without exception, I understood – sometimes then and certainly later – why they did what they did. As a trial judge, both state and federal, I had much the same reaction that based on what came in front of them, the juries usually did the right thing. They made wrong decisions, but when they did it was usually explainable by the fact that they didn’t have all the evidence. Looking at it from a media perspective, the jury that turned O.J. Simpson loose has been under great criticism. But if you look at the way that case was tried and the way they got that evidence in bits and pieces and what they didn’t see that the general public did, I think it’s fully understandable why that jury couldn’t find him guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. D.C. juries I’m not so sure about, David. I took designation and sat as a trial judge on a couple of cases here in D.C. In one of them, the jury acquitted. In one of them, the jury hung. I’m utterly satisfied that any other jury I ever had a case in front of would have found both men guilty and done so in a fairly short time. D.C. seems to be aberrational and I don’t think my cases were aberrational within D.C. The jury 299 system seems not to work as well here. I wish it were possible – I know it’s not – but I wish it were possible to make D.C. part of the eastern district of Virginia so that you could broaden the jury pool. Both places might benefit. MR. FREDERICK: It’s striking that in D.C. you’ll have many more professional people going to serve on jury duty more frequently and I think that’s just simply a function of the way the pool works. JUDGE SENTELLE: You have a very small jury pool so that people wind up serving every couple of years because the caseload is extraordinarily heavy in relation to the size of the pool. There’s an awful lot of litigation here, but there’s a relatively small draftable population here. A lot of people who live in D.C. are not legally D.C. citizens and are not in the jury pool. People who are still citizens of the state that they were living in when they came to work for the Congressman and still vote there for him, by way of example. Military people whose residence is legally somewhere else. People that can’t be drafted for the jury pool. And there’s, unfortunately, a higher percentage than normal of felons here. So, all in all, you get a very small jury pool in relation to the caseload. MR. FREDERICK: I want to ask about instructing jurors because I have seen a number of cases where the instructions to the jury go on page after page of transcript and we have a presumption in our system that the jury follows the instructions, but do you think that that presumption is played out in the real world? 300 JUDGE SENTELLE: I’ll answer that on a couple of levels. First, I think that juries in general do their best to act in accordance with what they understand the law to be based on the evidence in front of them. Now does that mean that they really understand and follow the details of those lengthy instructions? No, I don’t think they do. There’s a judge named Lacy Thornburg who is now a federal district judge in my old chambers. He was a superior court judge when I was practicing law. When I went on the lower state court bench, he advised me that a judge rarely gets in trouble by saying too little. And his theory – and I think he’s absolutely right – was you outline what the elements are that you have to instruct the jury on. You instruct them on that outline and then you put your pencil down. You try to minimize the instruction as much as you can. Now that’s easier said than done. There are some things, like conspiracy law where the appellate law upon which the judge has to operate is so stringent that he’s afraid not to give that full, long, conspiracy instruction, by way of example. And I don’t think the juries begin to understand what they’ve just been told. But I think they try and I think that what the lawyer has to do is convince the jury that they want to hold in your favor. But you can’t stop there. You have to convince them that the law is such that it permits them to hold in your favor. So I think the lawyers have a role in trying to educate the jury on their side of the law because they know the judge’s instructions 301 hopefully are going to be down the middle. You’re going to hand him proffered instructions, but you hope they’re going to be down the middle and you want them to be as fair as possible. But you know the jury’s going to hear more than they’re going to comprehend, so you try to give them the part of the law that helps your case. MR. FREDERICK: Now, as an appellate judge with that type of experience, have you had the occasion where the discussions among other appellate judges about how a jury should have been instructed strike you as not reflecting the kind of practical experience you’re talking about? JUDGE SENTELLE: A) yes, but b) not very often. Because of the nature of our caseload, we have fewer appeals that question jury instructions than you would find in any other circuit, except, obviously, the Federal Circuit. But as far as the run of cases, we don’t have as many appeals after jury verdicts as most circuits have. And most of those do not attack the jury instructions, which I think is a tribute to the careful job our district judges do in giving the instructions. When I do have conversations and I look back at the old Bazelon opinions and some of those are just out of the real world completely as to what they think judges ought to tell juries. MR. FREDERICK: I want to shift a little bit to the nature of contacts that judges and courts have. Legislatures and bureaucracies work on a system of informal contacts. Their formal decisions are set forth in legislative acts and, in the case of bureaucracies, agency orders. A lot of stuff happens behind 302 the scenes from informal contacts. It’s obviously much less so for the judiciary. How important, in any fashion – whether it’s through administration or understanding particular areas of law – are informal contacts among judges. JUDGE SENTELLE: Judges with each other? MR. FREDERICK: Yes. JUDGE SENTELLE: The greatest importance is in the maintenance of collegiality because most of our work is done on a fairly formal basis. Rare is the case that two judges discuss a case. Usually the discussion goes on among all three who are involved in the case unless you’ve already established that there is a dissenter and then the two have contact. But anything we have to say about the case after the initial conference is usually memorialized – it’s sent in a memo or otherwise in writing – or it’s a designed conversation, not one where we just casually, informally start talking about it the way congressmen have to about legislation. Nearly always, if we’re talking about a case, one of us has called the other to talk about the case. That informal contact, I think, is very valuable for the purpose of maintaining collegiality. And I think one of the other great things Harry Edwards did was to start having occasional lunches to which all of the judges are invited. MR. FREDERICK: How about things like judicial conferences, bar meetings, etc. JUDGE SENTELLE: I think, there, the interaction between the bench and the bar is more important than the interaction among the judges. I think it’s a bad thing 303 for the judges to become too isolated from the bar. We don’t get enough feedback, at best, and the more feedback we have and the more contact we have, I think the better judges and lawyers are able to understand each other. And things like panels at judicial conferences give insights into the thinking of the judges and the lawyers who serve on them, from which we can learn from each other. Also, the British concept that there is one profession and the judges are simply part of the same profession is something I think we tend to forget sometimes in this country. And I think our judicial conferences help restore, I think, the valuable element of “one profession.” MR. FREDERICK: You’re active in the Inns of Court. Can you describe what that has done for the bench and bar? JUDGE SENTELLE: It’s been a continuing channel of civil communication between the bench and the bar attempting to recreate what the British have done. And I’m not saying we’re totally successful, but I think it has had – as Warren Burger thought it would – a good deal of success in recreating the kind of channels of communication that improve everybody’s performance. I’m not sure. You’re in an Inn, I think, and you know that the enacted programs we have for lawyers and judges role play and then the bulk of the Inn comments and interacts on the subjects. It helps all of us maintain a) collegiality, b) civility, c) respect, and d) understanding that we don’t get anywhere else. We had another good meeting last night of our Inn. 304 MR. FREDERICK: What trends do you see in terms of civility? Fifteen years ago as I was coming out of law school, I well recall huge debates about the lack of civility in the bar. I haven’t detected as much concern about civility in recent years. Do you think that’s because the profession is becoming more civil or because we’re not talking about it as much? JUDGE SENTELLE: I think there has been some improvement. I’m vain enough to think that the Inns have had something to do with that, not just for the members but for the tone that they’ve helped set among the leaders of the bar in a lot of places. Also, I’m afraid that we’ve gotten tired of the subject matter. But I do think that there has been an improvement. I think that when I came out of law school around 34 years ago that things were more civil than they became by the time you came out of law school. I went to a small bar originally, but I think it was pretty generally that lawyers took each others’ word on things. “Drop me a note when you have time that memorializes our agreement here,” but nobody had any doubt that when you had reached an agreement, you’d reached an agreement. And you papered it, but you understood that you got that continuance or you settled that question – whatever it was that you were talking about – and you did it without accusing each other. And most of the time in the courtroom, you didn’t have the types of personal accusations that became common later. And then there’s something else that has arisen that I really hate but that’s getting no better. You didn’t have lawyers talking about their 305 cases on the courthouse steps with the reporters. That was strictly outside the pale when I started practicing law. You tried your case in the courtroom. When it got over, you might have had one press conference by the prosecutor or the defense attorney, but you didn’t have this daily carping and playing for the galleries that you have now. Things got worse. I do think they’ve begun to get somewhat better. You still have some Rambo litigators out there who want to burn all the bridges and take no prisoners. MR. FREDERICK: I want to turn to the American Bar Association and ask you what your experience has been with it. JUDGE SENTELLE: I dropped out some years ago because the ABA began to take political positions. And I hasten to say that the fact that I disagreed with some of them may have hastened my dropping out, but whether I agreed or disagreed, I simply don’t think judges belong in an organization that takes political positions. The most foolish one was when they had the anti-right-to-life, I would say, or the pro-abortion stance that the ABA took that had nothing to do with the practice of law and they should have known to begin with that that resolution was going to run off a lot of their members, which it did. I’ve talked to one of the delegates who voted for it who admits that that was the dumbest thing they had ever done. But the whole idea of them taking positions on political questions to me is inconsistent with judicial membership. One of the great things about the Inns of Court is that there’s nobody within it 306 that’s empowered to issue resolutions. So it can’t pass a bad one since it can’t pass any. We do vote from the floor to commend the outgoing president or something of the Inns, but I was not comfortable in a more political organization. I went back and did some speaking for them. I also was on some panels and seminars even after I was no longer a member. I don’t think I would do that today because the last time I went to an ABA convention was on a panel on employment rights or something. Upstairs in the same building they had brought Webb Hubbell in to berate the prosecutor who had sent him to prison in a very political way and I decided I don’t belong there anymore. I have no role with the ABA now. MR. FREDERICK: You became a judge at a very young age. Do you have views about at what point in a lawyer’s career becoming a judge is the right step? JUDGE SENTELLE: I probably became a state judge too young. I went on the state bench at 31. I was the youngest judge in the state that day. I think there was a younger one the next day or soon thereafter. I think I would have benefitted from some more wisdom before I went on. I stayed three years and then went back to practice for financial and professional reasons. I went on the federal district bench at 42 and came up here at 44. I would say, David, that if I could have laid out my career I would have done all of the things I have done, but I would have done most of them 307 longer. I would have come on the federal district bench somewhere around early fifties and come on the circuit late fifties. For lots of reasons, I think you benefit from more experience before you come on to a bench. And your temperament – I was still feeling like a trial lawyer the first several years. I had more vigor than I wanted to expend in the courtroom when I first came out of the practice. I would have liked to have tried cases several more years. I see the people I used to try cases with who are burned out today. I’m glad I didn’t stay to age 60 trying cases, but I would have liked to have done it another 10 years perhaps. MR. FREDERICK: How did you expend that energy? JUDGE SENTELLE: Well, when I was on the trial bench – we were living in Asheville then – we had horses and some land and I had a lot of things to do with my kids and physically, so I used up a lot of it that way. Since then I’ve done some lecturing for the Bar Foundation lectures, I’ve done a lot for the Inns of Court, taught some, found other outlets. MR. FREDERICK: What do you think is the hardest part of your job right now? JUDGE SENTELLE: It’s still hard to get a grip on some of these massive administrative records. It is, as Bob Bork said, more time consuming than it is intellectually difficult. They start out looking huge and massive, but when you get through with them and finally get them boiled down you realize that the legal question is neither difficult nor interesting. But you have to get through learning a whole new area of electric power 308 transmission or something before you finally get to that point. Now for a while that’s interesting but then, when you get down to where what you’re learning is the esoteric, it ceases to be interesting and becomes tedious. I suppose it would always be an acceptable answer to say that deciding cases is hard, but most of the time it’s not. Most of our cases – I’d say three-fourths of our cases, at least – once you have understood the file, the decision itself is easy. If you look at how many of our cases are unanimous, I think that gives some testimony. That doesn’t mean they’re easy, but it does mean that they’re not that hard. Even some of the ones that are unanimous are difficult, but deciding the cases is usually not the hardest part anymore. MR. FREDERICK: As we were getting set up, we were talking a little bit about how senior status judges have fewer burdens on them. Are you looking forward to that aspect of your career? JUDGE SENTELLE: Yes, I think so. You don’t give up much and financially you gain a little. Because your salary becomes retirement income, they no longer take Social Security out of it. Silberman also is taking advantage of another aspect of law. Our outside earnings are capped as active judges; they’re not as senior judges. So he now teaches two courses instead of one and gets a higher outside income. So financially there are incentives. As far as what you do on the court, senior judges generally do not take motions duty and do not go on the complex wheel. Motions is not 309 usually hard decisions – you get all the pro se litigants and such – but it’s like hearing confession in a convent. You’re just getting peppered away with little things all the time when you’re on motions duty. You’re supposed to carry your cell phone with you. We don’t really have emergencies, but lawyers think there are emergencies. We get called at odd places and times. I’ll tell you a story since this is not going to be published for several years. I warned my dermatologist one day that I would have to take a call if it rang and she said, “Go ahead if you have to.” So I had to stand naked in her office and talk on the telephone while she waited for me to get through handling a motions matter one time. They’re a nuisance and the senior judges don’t take it. The complex cases, while sometimes interesting, are always burdensome. You have to fit an extra day of sitting into your schedule to handle those and load up a clerk with extra files and you yourself have extra files. So coming off complex is not a bad thing either. MR. FREDERICK: Do you see yourself staying on the court for a while in semi-retirement as a senior judge or leaving the bench altogether? JUDGE SENTELLE: David, as long as God gives me strength, I’ll keep doing this. Now how much of it, I’ll let up as I get older. But as long as I’m still able, I don’t expect to ever quit holding court. I don’t see any reason to. There are few things in the way of hobbies. I don’t have any overwhelming hobbies and there are very few things that interest me as 310 much as the work does. We’ll travel more. We’ll have, presumably, more grandchildren to do things with. But, no, I don’t see any reason to quit as long as I’m able. Now there’s a danger in any job like this in staying too long when you can. You look at some of the senior judges and justices in history who have remained longer than they should have. There are some sad stories from this court and the Supreme Court and the U.S. Senate. Jesse Helms told me one time that he had empowered Dot to tell him when to quit. He said, “You should empower Jane to tell you when to quit.” He said, “Dot told me, ‘Don’t run for re-election,’ so I didn’t run for re-election.” Nobody apparently was empowered to tell Strom Thurmond, for example, not to run for reelection and it was pretty pitiful in the last few years. Carl Hayden was another that stayed over there too long and you know judges of this court who stayed too long. Of course, Douglas on the Supreme Court, Stephen Fields back in history, and several others who should have left long before they did. So I hope my family will tell me when to quit. But until I get to the point of needing to, I’d like to keep doing it. MR. FREDERICK: I’d like to turn to your family and friends and just ask you who were your closest friends? JUDGE SENTELLE: You know, that’s a harder question than you may think it is because changing lives over the years, you lose touch with people. I’ve still got a couple of very good friends going all the way back to high school, but we’re not in touch all that much. We talk several times a year and we 311 e-mail some. One guy is a disability retired insurance man in Yadkinville, North Carolina. One is a disability retired community college teacher and then administrator who lives in the mountains of North Carolina. He was one of my very dear friends in high school. And there’s a fellow I went all the way through school with – only one because he and I both changed school systems after the sixth grade. Both of our parents moved from the town out to the country the same year, so we went all the way through together where none of our other classmates did we know the whole time. We’re only in touch around Christmastime and occasionally he comes to town and we have dinner when he’s in town. He was one of the principal inventors of virtual reality and we keep up. Now, among the family, oddly enough, my brother’s wife is one of my best friends. She and I have always been able to bounce things off of each other that we couldn’t off our own spouse. We could easily talk to each other. My wife’s sister’s husband – he and I are about as different in background as you can get. He’s twelve years younger than me, I guess. He’s a New York Jew and I’m a hillbilly Baptist, but there’s nobody I’d rather sit on the back porch of the beach house with, smoke a cigar and drink a beer and solve the world’s problems with than Henry. Some of my clerks have become very good friends, especially the earlier ones where the age gap is less sizeable and meaningful. I think 312 of Mike O’Neill, a George Mason professor and FTC commissioner. Neil Gorsuch of your firm is a very good friend. Don Stumbaugh, the executive director of the Inn of Court would have to rank pretty high. Clarence Thomas. Royce Lamberth on the District Court. Clarence and Royce and I have solved a lot of the world’s problems over the last ten years or so together. We were very fortunate. Your kids are still young, as I recall. When you get teenagers, you’ll find that if you’re real lucky there is some other adult they’ll listen to because they’re not going to listen to their parents in the teen years. We were very lucky to have Clarence and Jenny Thomas to be the adults that our youngest daughter still listened to when her parents didn’t know anything. I’m sure I’m slighting people I should be mentioning, but that’s among the people who are and have been good friends. I’ll also go back and put Dick Leon in there. Judge Leon of the District Court who was a good friend before he became a judge and still is. MR. FREDERICK: How did becoming a judge affect your ability to cultivate friendships? JUDGE SENTELLE: I hate to keep sounding like a pitch man, but one of the things about the Inns is that it has helped make it possible to cultivate friendships as a judge. There aren’t that many ways to do it, particularly as an appellate judge and particularly changing towns. Coming into a town where you don’t have a lot of friends around and most of the ones I do have left. Jesse Helms and Lanch Faircloth aren’t here anymore. I made some friends, including Dick Leon and Don Stumbaugh, through the Inn that 313 I might not have otherwise. But it is a bit isolating. You don’t have the same robust contact with the bar that you had when you were trying cases. MR. FREDERICK: Do you try to carve out particular times of a week or month to get out and interact with friends? JUDGE SENTELLE: I play poker one night a month with Bill Rehnquist and Scalia, and Royce Lamberth. Irving Kristol used to play with us but he’s not been well. Walter Berns from American Enterprise Institute is the secretary of the game. He’s the guy that makes sure we have somewhere to play every month. Tom Whitehead is a communications consultant. He’s a longtime part of the game. Marty Feinstein, who was the director of the Kennedy Center and the Opera Company for many years. It’s a diverse group with a concentration of jurists, but lots of others. Bob Bennett, the Clintons’ lawyer, he’s part of the group. It’s a diverse group. Despite the fact that it has a concentration of judges, it still has a lot of variety to it and nobody talks much about cases that night. We talk about everything else in the world – sports and music and everything – but the law. It’s a very welcome relief for all of us, I think. From Royce on the trial court to the two justices, we all enjoy that. MR. FREDERICK: Now how did you come to be a part of that group? JUDGE SENTELLE: They have an ordered list by seniority and it has seven who are the regular players and they try to keep two or three substitutes. Bill Rehnquist called me one day and said they had had two or three deaths 314 or dropouts and did I play poker? Yes, I did, and he asked me to join the group. It came at a time when I was under attacks from CBS and the Washington Post and Hillary Clinton over the involvement of Ken Starr and my friendship with Jesse and Lauch. And Bill didn’t say a thing about the attacks. He just called and said, “Dave, do you play poker?” And I said, “Yes, I do.” And he told me that they needed somebody in the game and would I be interested in coming in. So I got on the sub-list originally, but as people died and dropped out one way or the other, I moved up the ladder. MR. FREDERICK: We’ve been talking about your poker game. Who is the best player? JUDGE SENTELLE: Bill Rehnquist is awfully good. Walter Berns is a very good poker player. I’m good. Royce and Marty both had not played in a long time before they got in the game and it was evident. They’re still not probably quite as good as the average in the game. I guess either Bill or Walter – one or the other – would be the best player. Although, as I said, I’m good myself. Just watching how the money flows, the three of us would win more often than we lose, but it’s not dramatically different. MR. FREDERICK: I don’t envision Justice Scalia having a poker face naturally. JUDGE SENTELLE: Yes, he’s the most impulsive. He knows what he’s doing; he just can’t make himself do it. He’s too impulsive. Rehnquist does. You never know whether he’s got what he’s betting or not. 315 MR. FREDERICK: Yes, he does that in court, too. Apart from your monthly poker game, do you have other regular social interactions? JUDGE SENTELLE: I have a very busy week usually. The third Tuesday of the month we have our prayer breakfast, which is judges from the Supreme Court to administrative law judges and magistrates. We meet across the street now in the Superior Court dining room. We used to meet in the Capitol building. Oliver Gasch started it with Martin Bostetter, the bankruptcy judge for the Eastern District of Virginia. Oliver was a district judge here. In the early ‘70s, Doug Coe, whose group puts together the National Prayer Breakfast, started these prayer breakfasts and they got Oliver and Marty interested. They enlisted Bill Rehnquist to have a Supreme Court Justice involved. Now Bill no longer comes. He dropped out when his wife was sick and he said he’s not interested in coming back because he doesn’t want to go to anything that early in Washington. But we do have on the list Clarence, Justice Kennedy, Sandra O’Connor, and Scalia. They don’t come every month, but they’re there from time to time. Oliver chaired it, organized it, made sure there was a speaker for twenty-some years, and then came in here one day and said he was fixing to close his chambers and he couldn’t manage it anymore, would I take it over. So we’ve run it out of these chambers ever since then and I preside unless I’m out of town and then Tom Hogan fills in for me. We make sure there’s a speaker on some religious subject every 316 month. It’s a good get-together and a good group. I should have mentioned Hogan among the very good friends a while ago. That’s the third Tuesday. The third Wednesday in every month we play poker. And the third Thursday of every month, my Inn of Court meets. So I am very thankful for months like this one that start on a Wednesday so that they don’t fall right in a row, but most months that’s just a very busy week. I usually go to church on Sunday mornings, although I didn’t this past Sunday. That’s the scheduled activities. MR. FREDERICK: What church do you worship at? JUDGE SENTELLE: I go to Fairfax Methodist now. I grew up Baptist and I think, in some theological sense, I’m still a Baptist. But I’ve been going to the Methodist church for some years up here. MR. FREDERICK: How active are you in church life up here? JUDGE SENTELLE: I attend regularly. I substitute teach Sunday School. I will not take a class as a commitment. Most of the years of my professional life, I’ve had a class I was committed to. That ties you down more than I’m willing to promise now when my kids are scattered and much family is back in North Carolina and such. So I teach on a substitute basis. I have been on the board of the church, but I asked that I not be because frankly I think the meetings are usually a waste of time and I was not making many of them anyway. So I’ve asked not to be on the board. MR. FREDERICK: Tell me about your home life and your family life. 317 JUDGE SENTELLE: Well, we’ve been married since 1965. We have three daughters. The oldest daughter, Sharon, is 35. She has our first grandchild, Kelly, who is three-and-a-half. Sharon worked for Nortel as a tech for a few years and then left when she was laid off, along with most of Nortel’s employees. She decided she’d be a stay-at-home mom for a while. She’s just starting a little business in her home doing tech kind of jobs for people – transferring home movies to CD disk and the sort of tasks that a lot of people my age want done but don’t want to undertake themselves. Second daughter, Reagan, will be 32 in a couple of weeks. MR. FREDERICK: Was she named after the President? JUDGE SENTELLE: Well, there’s a split of authority on that question. She was born on the President’s birthday and I say she was and Jane says she wasn’t. I did give him a picture of her one time with her birth date on the back of it and her name because she was born on February 6, which is Ronald Reagan’s birthday. Boyden said we could have named her Ruth because that was Babe Ruth’s birthday as well as Boyden Gray’s birthday. She is in Texas and is a professor of engineering. She teaches structural steel bridge construction. Her husband, although several years older than her, had not finished college when they got married. He has gone back and finished his degree with honors summa cum laude. He finished in December and he’s started on an M.B.A. They live in Houston now. They were in Austin for several years while 318 she was getting the Ph.D. They don’t have any children and don’t seem to be making any progress along that line. Rebecca, the youngest daughter, will be 30 on February 3. I tell her, “Thirty is nothing. I’ve done that twice.” She has a year-old baby. Mikyla just turned a year old last week. They live near us. Rebecca works for a government contractor at the CIA and her husband also works for a government contractor somewhere else, but his company does state and local contracting. They live out in Centreville, about fifteen minutes from us. My wife keeps Mikyla while her parents work and she delights in that. MR. FREDERICK: Your grandchildren are very important to you. JUDGE SENTELLE: Oh, yes. MR. FREDERICK: What is it about them that you like the most? JUDGE SENTELLE: You can enjoy the delightful aspects of childhood without being responsible for the upbringing of the child. I guess the downside of Jane keeping the child is that she’s responsible for more of the upbringing than you normally are with your grandchildren. But you’re doing it from a different perspective than the parents. There has rarely been a psychiatrist who tells you that the grandparent screwed you up. Usually it’s your mother or your father. So you can enjoy the child without having the responsibility. You get to give them back when things are hard. And they are delightful. MR. FREDERICK: How was it to be the only man in a house full of women? 319 JUDGE SENTELLE: You get used to it. I’ve said lots of time that I think people have it mixed up who say boys are for Daddy and little girls are for Mama. I think it may be the other way around. I think Daddies can thoroughly enjoy little girls and if you look even at adult children, the boys always look after Mama and the girls always look after Daddy. I think at times it’s difficult. There’s always somebody who is out of joint when you’ve got all of them at home. But you get used to it. MR. FREDERICK: Tell me about your wife and what she’s meant to your life and to your career. JUDGE SENTELLE: I knew Jane from all of our lives, really. I don’t know exactly when we first met. She was a year behind me in school. Again, she started in the town schools and transferred to the country schools a couple of years after I transferred out. We did not date in high school. She tells me that I tried to pick her up one time but she turned me down. I told her I don’t remember that. There were so many that turned me down that one doesn’t stand out. Both of our fathers worked for the same textile mill. We were from similar blue collar, working class, maybe high school educated kind of backgrounds. We were interested in very different things in education. She was a math major; I was in political science. She is not an outgoing, public kind of person and it really makes it a little difficult for me to talk about the relationship, David. I’m not going to try to go into any depth on it. She’s much more of a private 320 person than I am and I’ll mostly leave it there. I won’t bring my wife into it. MR. FREDERICK: That’s fair enough. Are there ways that maybe in a quieter and subtler way, she’s made you think about the law in a different way? JUDGE SENTELLE: I think the biggest change about getting married was that I went from being a very irresponsible undergraduate with a gentlemanly ‘C’ – which in those days was a respectable middle grade academic average – to a serious law student nearly at the top of my class. I think a lot of it had to do with getting married. I think she settled me down in a very meaningful sense. As far as the law, it’s not something that she deals with a lot. I guess in some sense everything in your life affects how you view things, but as an appellate judge I try to view the law as the law and not let too many other factors influence it. I’m sure that I understood, in a factual setting when I was a trial judge – particularly when I was a state judge with domestic jurisdiction – domestic cases a lot better than I would have otherwise been able to because I think I saw both sides of it better. MR. FREDERICK: You were also a young father at the time you were performing that role. How did that affect the way you looked at cases? JUDGE SENTELLE: The hardest thing that I ever had to do as a judge was handle custody cases. Now, I never presided over a capital trial. I’m sure that’s devastating as well. But as far as the difficulty emotionally and personally of handling cases, child custody cases were the hardest and I 321 think being a father made them harder, not easier. When you come in there and you know that you’re going to pronounce a judgment that means that that parent is not going to have that child in the way that parent wishes to have that child, it’s a very hard thing to do. MR. FREDERICK: Did you talk to your wife about those kinds of cases when you were handling them? JUDGE SENTELLE: Only to this extent, David. I would call her sometimes from domestic court and say, “Do you still love me?” She’d say, “Yes,” and I’d say, “I granted fifty divorces this morning and I’ve been here in a fighting custody case all afternoon.” I had to touch base sometimes in the middle of those. It’s a different world. Now as far as the particular facts of a case, I didn’t think it was proper. The only people I ever talked about ongoing facts in a case with were colleagues. After they were over, I unloaded on Jane sometimes. And sometimes I had a lot to unload. But as far as the decision-making process, I had a couple of colleagues that the three of us felt we could help each other when we had difficult decisions to make. Actually there were four of us, but one of them went on to a higher court. MR. FREDERICK: I would think there would be some jobs – and being a judge would be one, or an intelligence operative or someone with access to national security information – that would create real walls between spouses. JUDGE SENTELLE: They do, yes, they do. MR. FREDERICK: And that it takes special means of accommodation to deal with that. 322 JUDGE SENTELLE: Right, and it’s only in a trial court where you’re acting alone. There’s only a certain extent to which you can even involve colleagues. They can maintain your confidentiality, but to a point you can’t go beyond. You have to go home and your wife says, “What are you trying?” And you say, a custody case, a domestic case, a murder case, or whatever you’re trying. But you can’t talk about it in the same way that you’d like to be able to so you do erect walls. Intelligence people have the same problem – not just national intelligence, but criminal intelligence also. The police officers who deal with criminal intelligence have the same kinds of problems. They, by the way, I know have a very high divorce rate and I’m sure that’s a reason. MR. FREDERICK: Who would you say in your personal life has had the biggest impact on you? JUDGE SENTELLE: That’s another one of those questions that you sort of have to piece out at different times. My parents, I think, each of them – I started to say particularly my mother, but my father in a lot of ways, too, had a lot of impact on my life. Mother was one of those people who could quote a scripture for everything and I think I learned a lot from that. My father I gained more genetically from him than I did from her. My personality for good and bad was more shaped by my father. I don’t know if I would have had the same excesses. Outside the family and in the later years there are people from whom I have deliberately tried to learn and then there are others who have had 323 shaping influences. Jesse Helms did in some ways in that he affected my career by getting me to do things that I otherwise might not have done. Some of them he talked me into and some of them he helped me get what I wanted. Wilson Warlick was an old senior federal judge when I came in as an assistant U.S. Attorney. Judge Woodrow Wilson Jones was the Chief Judge of that district. I later took his place on that court. I learned a lot about trial judging and people from the two of them. Again, there are lots of others. My wife. My children right now. They influence your life, too, in ways that you don’t even realize yet. Dean Dickson Phillips in law school was one I learned an awful lot from. He was later on the Fourth Circuit. He’s retired now, still living. MR. FREDERICK: What do you consider to be the greatest achievement of your life? JUDGE SENTELLE: It ain’t over yet. I don’t know that there’s any one single thing. Raising three daughters without any of them ever getting on drugs, going to jail, getting pregnant out of wedlock and having them all still speak to us after all these years, to Jane and me, I think, maybe the best achievement of all. MR. FREDERICK: Are there any other things you’d like to talk about at this point? We’re coming to the end of our session together. JUDGE SENTELLE: David, I feel like I’ve had two very full, very good lives. One in North Carolina and one in Washington, but there aren’t many things generically that I would ever have wanted to do that I haven’t done. 324 I’ve practiced a profession on virtually every level. I was an insurance defense attorney. I was a prosecutor. I was a criminal defense attorney. I was a plaintiffs’ lawyer. I was a state trial judge. I was a federal trial judge. I’m a court of appeals judge. I’ve written for publication – both fiction and non-fiction, both popular press and academic. I’ve taught at four universities. I’ve had a long marriage and three good kids. I’ve known a president and met a few others. I can’t think of much that I’ve missed that I would have wanted along the way. I’ve run for office and won and lost. That’s all there is in running for office. MR. FREDERICK: Well thank you very much, Judge, it’s been a pleasure. JUDGE SENTELLE: Thank you.