Newsletter #47 – April 2021
Historical Society of the D.C. Circuit –
Unwilling to
shut down its
annual Mock
Program, the
arranged for
115 D.C. high
students to
argue their
cases virtually before a federal judge on March 12, 2021. Representing Georgetown
Day School, Maret, School Without Walls, Washington Latin, and H.D. Woodson, the
students were first welcomed by Chief Judge Sri Srinivasan and Society President Jim
Rocap in a webinar session. Each student then proceeded to one of 11 separate Zoom
sessions to present her or his argument. The federal judges listened to each student
advocate’s arguments, asked tough questions, and then talked about the cases and
the law generally. The judges praised the new advocates for their hard preparatory
work with volunteer lawyer mentors in the weeks prior to the program.
At a final webinar session, the students, their teachers, participating judges, and
mentors gathered to hear Chief Judge Beryl Howell compliment the students for their
work and encourage them to return to the Courthouse to observe court proceedings
and the peaceful resolution of problems.
While the judges applauded all participating students, at the Society’s invitation they
each selected outstanding advocates including Olivia Pierre and Isabelle Shook,
School Without Walls; Jaime Kleinbord, Hayden Martz, Jonah Shesol, and Julie Steele,
Georgetown Day; Jamal Thompson, H.D. Woodson; Cooper Davenport, Jada George,
Michela Irving, and Elle Waters, Washington Latin; and Allison Kaplan, Emil Massad,
and Emily Noll, Maret. All students will receive a certificate of participation
acknowledging their active involvement in the Society’s 16th Mock Court Program – the
only such program conducted on-line.
After surveying 13 of the 16 judges on the U.S. Court of
Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, Judge Harry
T. Edwards issued a report in November 2020 filled with
useful guidance for appellate advocates. The report
included detailed analyses of the Court’s work and the
processing of cases over three terms.
Appellate advocates will want to read the judges’ views
on such questions as what are the most common
mistakes made in briefs and during oral argument, what
makes an appellate advocate outstanding, and what are the attributes of a noteworthy
appellate brief?
Read the full report.
Seven years after taking Harry McPherson’s oral
history in 14 sessions, interviewer John Vanderstar sat
down with McPherson in 2010 and videotaped an
interview in which he quizzed McPherson about
Senate procedures, including the filibuster and
unanimous consent, and the impact of those
procedures on gridlock and the passage of
substantive legislation. Watch the entire interview and
learn, among other things, how McPherson’s “boss,” President Lyndon Johnson, once
achieved unanimous consent and how he and Senator Richard Russell kept an eye on
a filibuster taking place throughout one long night.
In 1917, when Charles Fahy decided to enlist in Navy
Aviation, there were 35 qualified pilots and 55
airplanes in the aerial forces of the U.S. Army and
Navy combined. All but four of the airplanes were
obsolete, and none of the non-obsolete planes was
armed. All were useless for combat.
Fahy’s diary recounting his experiences during World
War l, including flying America’s first night bombing raid, was found by his grandson,
Charles Sheehan, and is described in detail in an article written by Sheehan, a
member of the Historical Society of the D.C. Circuit.
Sheehan also looked into his grandfather’s service as Solicitor General and wrote
Kumezo Kawato & “Justice Court,” which reveals, among other things, Fahy’s views
about a case involving an injured fisherman, born in Japan but living in the United
States, who was barred from U.S. Courts during our war with Japan. The article also
follows Kawato’s fortunes through internment and the war’s end.
Newly Released Oral Histories
Judge Richard Roberts
In his just-completed oral history, Richard Roberts, the
former Chief Judge of the U.S. District Court for the
District of Columbia, recalls his childhood (son of a
school-teaching father and an opera-singing mother),
his educational path (at an arts-based high school, in
Vassar’s first class of men, and at Columbia Law), his
years of service in the U.S. Department of Justice
(culminating as head of the Criminal Section of the Civil
Rights Division,) and in U.S. Attorney’s Offices in New
York and Washington, D.C. (where, among other high-profile matters, he prosecuted
former Mayor Marion Barry.) Judge Roberts’ distinguished 18-year career on the
federal bench is also covered in his oral history. Michelle Coles conducted the oral
history interviews and prepared the attached summary.
Florence Roisman
Florence Roisman truly embodies the essence of a
legal “trailblazer” – and her oral history deserves its
place of honor among those collected as part of the
American Bar Association’s Women Trailblazers
Project. For decades, Roisman, a member of the
first Board of Directors of the newly-established
D.C. Bar, served as an inspired, creative, and
passionate advocate for the rights of tenants in the
District of Columbia courts. Her most notable victory established an implied warrant of
habitability in every real estate lease – a doctrine that transformed landlord-tenant
relationships and low-income housing policies throughout the District. Later, she
became a pioneer in the fight against housing discrimination. She unabashedly labels
herself “feisty”; her opponents resorted to other descriptive terms. Historical Society
member Carl Stern has provided this highly entertaining summary of Roisman’s
important, distinguished career.
Esther Lardent
Few people have made as deep an imprint on the
practice of law as Esther Lardent, who may be the
most noteworthy lawyer you never heard of. Often
dubbed the “Queen of Pro Bono,” Lardent transformed
makeshift volunteer legal services on behalf of low
income clients into organized programs that are now
Historical Society of the District of
Columbia Circuit
E. Barrett Prettyman United States Courthouse
333 Constitution Avenue, NW., Room 4714
Washington, DC 20001-2866
Email Us
ingrained in the culture and everyday life of countless
law firms. Lardent’s captivating oral history for the ABA’s Women Trailblazers Project is
summarized by Historical Society member Carl Stern.
Newly Released Oral Histories
Abe Krash
Few lawyers in Washington have had a career as
important and impactful as Abe Krash of Arnold &
Porter. Krash joined the firm in 1953 as only its twelfth
lawyer and stayed there for decades. As a result, his
oral history is as much a biography of one of
Washington’s premiere law firms as it is about Krash
himself. He profiles his legal-legend colleagues,
including (former D.C. Circuit Judge) Thurman Arnold,
(future Justice) Abe Fortas, and (former FCC Chair)
Paul Porter. But the highlight of the oral history is Krash’s discussion of his and the
firm’s work on Gideon v. Wainwright, the landmark Supreme Court case that
guaranteed legal representation for all persons accused of crimes. Krash’s oral history
is ably summarized by Jonathan Ogden, a legal assistant at Arnold & Porter.