In This Issue
#49 ~ October 2021 ~
Newsletter of theHistorical Society of
theDistrict of ColumbiaCircuit
Next June marks the fiftieth anniversary of the Watergate burglary, an
initially mysterious event that ultimately led to a major constitutional
crisis and the resignation of a president who had been reelected in a
landslide. In so many ways, Watergate was a Washington story, featuring
not only late-night arrests at a local hotel, but also the dogged efforts of
hometown journalists to follow the investigative leads, riveting hearings
on Capitol Hill, and, perhaps most significantly, judicial proceedings at all
levels of the Washington courts ? arraignments, grand jury sessions,
criminal jury trials, and formidable legal battles over presidential tapes
and assertions of executive privilege.
The website of the Historical Society contains a wealth of personal
recollections and pertinent information about the Watergate saga,
ranging from our rich and extensive collection of oral histories to a special
program that we sponsored involving notable Watergate participants.
To mark this symbolic fiftieth anniversary, we asked veteran journalist Carl
Stern ? himself a major Watergate reporter ? to prepare a series of
short features, based on nuggets he has mined from the treasure
trove of Watergate-related resources available on our
website. Carl?s stories will be featured in our quarterly
newsletter over the course of next year and then
permanently archived on our website.
In the next issue of our newsletter, Carl
answers this question: Who was the very
first Watergate judge, and what are his
current recollections of those historic
So ? please read on,
and please stay tuned!
Watergate at Fifty: Perspectives from Our Archives
Former Clerk of
the U.S. District Court James Davey:
Recollections from His Oral History
Pearl Harbor Day
December 7 marks the 80th anniversary of the 1941 Japanese attack on Pearl
Living with his family in U.S. Naval officers’ housing on Ford Island, Pearl Harbor,
six-year-old Jim Davey and his older brother ran outside at the sound of noise – what
Davey says turned out to be Japanese planes ?coming in low to drop their torpedoes just
going over the top of the house looking at us through their open cockpits.? The battleship
Arizona was just two battleship-lengths away. It blew up with a loss of over 1,100 lives.
In a 2008 Historical Society oral history, Davey recalls the ?tremendous explosion.? His father
rushed him and his brother inside, placing them under mattresses. “I remember being
scared, being under the mattresses,” says Davey.
During a lull in the waves of attacks, his father drove the family to the Admiral?s house, which
had a shelter and a first-aid station that Davey says
was filled with men that had swum through burning
oil, ?a tough thing for kids to see.?
Over the years, the family retained a souvenir –
described by Davey as “a big, heavy iron waffle
iron.” Inside, “a perfectly preserved waffle, that
my mother was cooking that morning on
December 7th, 1941.”
Davey retired in 1991 after 20 years as
The U.S.S. Arizona Memorial Wall
Page 1 –
Watergate at Fifty
Jim Davey: Pearl Harbor Day
Page 2 –
Courthouse Closures
Penny Clark Oral History Released
Page 3 –
Three Women Trailblazers
History of the Courts
Page 4 –
The Society on Social Media
Julia Penny Clark
Julia Penny Clark (Penny)
graduated first in a class of 500
from the University of Texas School
of Law, Austin in 1973. She was
Texas Law Review Note and
Comment Editor and, no surprise,
was selected Senior Student Most
Likely to Achieve in the Practice of
Law. After law school, she clerked
for then U.S. Fourth Circuit Court
of Appeals Judge Braxton Craven,
and next for then Supreme Court
Justice Lewis Powell. Penny was
Justice Powell?s first female law clerk and, after her clerkship, she became the
first female attorney hired at Bredhoff & Kaiser, where she worked until 2019.
At Bredhoff, with a practice focused on employee benefits, Penny?s clients
included large multi-employer pension and health-benefits plans and a public
employer pension plan. She was one of the few attorneys who both
counseled funds and litigated on their behalf. She believed that her
experience counseling her clients helped her assess litigation risks.
Penny was a tireless advocate and litigator for her clients. She appeared in
countless state and federal courts across the country, notably arguing two
cases in the U.S. Supreme Court. She even managed to recover a significant
amount of money for several funds from Bernie Madoff.
Named because her father had only pennies in his pocket when she was
born, Penny must have inherited her father?s sense of humor. She recounts
numerous amusing stories from her career, but her favorite courtroom
moment occurred in the Idaho Supreme Court with her colleague, George
Cohen. The judges were seated at a long bench with the U.S. flag at one end
and the Idaho state flag at the other. As George said, ?In this area, federal
law sweeps away all state law,?the Idaho flag fell over, prompting the entire
courtroom to erupt in laughter.
Moxila Upadhyaya, a partner at the Venable Law Firm, was the interviewer for
Penny?s oral history.
Newly Released Society Oral History
Covid Was Not the First Pandemic
to Cause a Courthouse Closure
On October 7, 1918, confronted by the mounting toll
of the “Spanish flu,” the Supreme Court of the
District of Columbia, the predecessor of today’s U.S.
District Court, suspended most proceedings for a
week – a move apparently extended until late
November. Only motions and ex parte matters,
requiring limited attendance, were to be heard. The
announcement noted that offices would remain
open for filing cases, registering wills, and issuing
marriage licenses.
By December, the Court returned to a full schedule –
even fuller. In mid-month it gave notice that it would
confine its Christmas recess to three days because of
“the weeks lost during the epidemic.”
We are indebted to Jake Kobrick of the Federal
Judicial Center who found the clipping.
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Programs of the Society depend on the financial support of the
Courts of the District of Columbia Circuit, individuals, and law firms.
The Historical Society of the District of Columbia Circuit is registered asa 501(c)(3) nonprofit
organization independent of the Courts. Contributions to the Society are tax deductible.
Contributions can be made online at
or mailed to:
The Historical Society of the District of Columbia Circuit
E. Barrett Prettyman United States Courthouse
333 Constitution Avenue, NW, Room 4714
Washington, DC20001-2866
Nancy Duf f Campbell
Nancy Duff Campbell (Duffy), a founder
and co-president Emerita of the National
Women’s Law Center, graduated from
Barnard College and New York University
Law School at a time of great social
unrest in the United States. After
growing up in a family engaged in socially
progressive activities, she was involved in
Judit h Winst on
Judith Winston, a former Society Board
Member, has a resume that is impressive,
to say the least. After graduating from
Howard University and Georgetown Law
School, she first worked in the Office for
Civil Rights in the Department of Health,
Education and Welfare, as Special
Assistant to the Director, David Tatel (now
Three Oral Histories Added to the Society’s Archive
by Agreement with the Women Trailblazers Project of the American Bar Association
Janet Reno
As the first woman appointed to serve as
U.S Attorney General and the
second-longest serving Attorney General
in U.S. History, Janet Reno needs no
introduction. A self-described tomboy,
she grew up on a farm close to the Florida
Everglades, living in a house that her
mother built with her own hands. Her
Calmly to Poise the Scales of Justice:
A History of the Courts of the District of Columbia Circuit
by Jeffrey Brandon Morris, with the assistance of Chris Rohmann, for the Historical Society of the D. C. Circuit
This history of two of the nation’s most important courts – the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit and the U.S.
District Court for the District of Columbia – was published in 2001, on the two hundredth anniversary of the Courts?beginning. Morris
sketches the development of each court, describes the most influential judges, and looks at the most important decisions and cases
of each court from 1801 until the 1980s. If you are interested in history, especially the history of the courts in D.C., this book will be an
enjoyable read.
The book’s title is taken from a phrase attributed to D.C. Circuit Judge (and John Adams’ nephew) William Cranch. He served on the
Court from 1801 to 1855. Judge Cranch wrote, ?The constitution was made for times of commotion. …Dangerous precedents occur in
dangerous times. It then becomes the duty of the judiciary calmly to poise the scales of justice, unmoved by the arm of power,
undisturbed by the clamor of the multitude.?(United Statesv. Bollmann and Swartwout).
Chapters in the book are arranged chronologically allowing a reader to follow the Courts as their jurisdiction and stature grew.
Professor Morris provides discussion and analysis of numerous memorable cases and events: the Star
Route and Teapot Dome scandals and President Truman’s takeover of the steel mills. The book also includes
detailed treatments of the Pentagon Papers, the Watergate cases, and the AT&T breakup.
Morris also includes some unusual facts. For example, because American Samoa does not have a federal
court like the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, or the Virgin Islands, matters of federal law arising there
have generally been adjudicated in the U.S. District Court for the District of Hawaii or the District Court for
the District of Columbia.
The cover photograph is of the Old City Hall, which served as the federal courthouse for a hundred years,
from 1850-1950. There are many other illustrations and photos, including one titled “Women of the D.C.
Courts” from 1997.
In addition to the index, the book contains a table of cases, a list of judges and a list of sources. If you are
interested in purchasing this book, click here.
WINSTON – continued on page 4
RENO CAMPBELL- continued on page 4 – continued on page 4
CAMPBELL- from page 3
the civil rights movement in college and,
by law school, had decided to focus on
women and poverty.
As a recognized expert on women?s law,
Duffy has focused on women’s law and
public policy issues for over 40 years.
Prior to her work with the National
Women?s Law Center, she was a law
professor and an attorney with the Center
on Social Welfare Policy and Law.
Throughout her career, she has written
numerous articles on women?s legal
issues and has participated in
groundbreaking lawsuits and
life-changing legislative initiatives to
guarantee women’s rights, emphasizing
issues affecting low?income women and
their families.
Among her achievements, Duffy
participated in successful Supreme Court
litigation in Califano v. Westcott, a case that
held that two-parent families with
unemployed mothers are entitled to Aid
to Families with Dependent Children
benefits. She was counsel in Parents
Without Partners v. Massinga, a case
establishing the uniform right to child
support enforcement services for all
custodial parents without regard to
income. Duffy also was involved in the
organization and leadership of the
Coalition on Women and Taxes, whose
advocacy and analysis led to expanded
tax assistance for single heads of
household and the removal of six million
low?income families from the tax rolls
through passage of the Tax Reform Act of
A list of her honors and awards seems
endless. To name a few, she was the only
North American representative to the
2009 United Nations Conference on the
implications for Women of the Global
Financial Crisis and was appointed by the
Secretary of Defense to the Defense
Advisory Committee on Women in the
Services. In recognition of her exemplary
legal career dedicated to service in the
public interest, she was awarded the
District of Columbia Bar?s William J.
Brennan Award. She was selected for
inclusion in Who?s Who in America, Who?s
Who of American Women and Who?s Who
in American Law.
Duffy?s oral history was taken by Janet
Studley, a Holland & Knight Retired Senior
WINSTON – from page 3
Judge David Tatel of the U.S. Court of
Appeals for the D.C. Circuit). Although
Judith had decided that her earlier work on
civil rights issues had been too emotionally
draining, she accepted the HEW position
because it was consistent with her lifetime
interest in civil rights and education. Those
interests never waned as she became,
among many other things, a law professor,
Under Secretary and General Counsel of
the U.S. Department of Education, and a
lead member of then President-elect
Barack Obama’s Agency Review teams for
the Departments of Education and Labor.
Judith?s accomplishments have been
recognized with numerous awards. She
received the prestigious Thurgood
Marshall Award from the District of
Columbia Bar Association, the Margaret
Brent Women Lawyers of Achievement
Award from the American Bar
Association’s Commission on Women in
the Profession, and the Lawyer of the Year
Award from the Women’s Bar Association.
She serves on the Boards of NPR, Partners
for Democratic Change International, the
Southern Education Foundation, and the
National Law Center on Poverty and
Homelessness. She is the author of many
articles on education, civil rights,
employment discrimination, and women
of color in the workplace.
Judith?s oral history was taken by Marna
Tucker, Senior Partner at Feldesman
Tucker Leifer Fidell.
RENO – from page 3
parents, both reporters, encouraged her
to read and appreciate history and taught
her ?how important it was that people
speak out and that their rights not be
impaired without due process of law.?
She left Florida to attend Cornell
University and Harvard Law School, and
then returned to Florida where, after
several years in private practice, she was
elected Dade County, Florida prosecutor.
During her 15 years as a prosecutor, she
gained a reputation for being tough,
outspoken, unpretentious, and liberal.
In 1993, former President Bill Clinton
appointed her U.S. Attorney General.
Janet Reno served until 2001. Early in her
tenure, she was charged with resolving a
51-day stand-off between the Branch
Davidians and FBI and ATF agents. Her
involvement with other high-profile
events and cases continued throughout
her tenure, including the Microsoft
antitrust suit, the Oklahoma City
bombing, the Unabomber conviction, and
the Elian Gonzalez dispute.
After leaving office, she returned to the
Florida house her mother built, ran
(unsuccessfully) for governor, and worked
with the Innocence Project. But first, on
her last day as attorney general, she had a
?wonderful experience? appearing as
herself on Saturday Night Live.
Janet Reno?s oral history was taken by
Hilarie Bass, Founder and President of the
Bass Institute for Diversity and Inclusion.
According to a 2021 survey by the Pew Research Center, 69% of American adults
use Facebook, 28%use LinkedIn, and 23%use Twitter. Prominent historians also
use social media to bring attention to their work. Doris Kerns Goodwin has over
141,000 Twitter followers, and Michael Beschloss has over 714,000.
We aim to have the Society?s incredible archive of oral histories read far and
wide. To that end, two members of the Society’s Board (Sara Kropf and Michelle
Bradford) have formed our first-ever Social Media Subcommittee. The SMS
shares information about the Society?s oral histories, events planned by the
Society, and other relevant news on our Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook
accounts. The goal is to let people outside of the Society know about the archive
of oral histories.
Please connect with the Society on Twitter, at LinkedIn, or on Facebook. You can
help by following us, and commenting and sharing our posts on your own social
media accounts. You will also find videos of Society events on our YouTube
The Society on Social Media
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