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Oral History of STEPHEN J. POLLAK
Twelfth Interview-July 7, 2010
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 Stephen J. Pollak, and
the interviewer is William Schultz. The interview took place at the Goodwin Procter law firm at
901 New York Avenue, N.W., in the District of Columbia on July 7, 2010. This is the twelfth
Mr. Schultz: In the last section you talked about the Griffin and Camenisch cases, and I think
you wanted to put the Supreme Court’s citations in. Do you want to add anything
Mr. Pollak: Shortly after I got out of the Department of Justice in 1969, the Washington
Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law had a case called Griffin v.
Breckenridge which was testing the reach and requirements for a judgment of
liability under 42 U.S.C. 1985(3). I believe that I was by then chair of the
committee and undertook to represent petitioners, Negro citizens of Mississippi,
who had brought a damage action charging that white citizens had conspired to
assault them when they were passengers “travelling upon the federal, state and
local highways” in an automobile. I presented the case in the Supreme Court
which reexamined and somewhat reinterpreted that significant statute in an
opinion by Justice Stewart, which continues to be the determinative opinion with
respect to the meaning of that statute.
Later, the Mental Health Law Project here in the District of Columbia came to
Shea & Gardner for representation of a deaf student, at San Jacinto State College,
named Camenisch, who had sought to have a sign language interpreter assist him
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at his classes and was denied funding. The case tested the reach of Section 504 of
the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which proscribed discrimination on account of a
disability. I undertook the representation and argued the case in the Supreme
Court. The opinion held that the review of a preliminary injunction, which had
been granted in favor of Mr. Camenisch, had become moot and so the decision
did not interpret the reach of Section 504 or the legality of the provision. The
opinion there is 451 U.S. 390 in a 1981 decision. The Griffin v. Breckenridge cite
is 403 U.S. 88, 1971. Those were two of the three cases that I argued in the
Supreme Court after leaving the government, the third being one of the
representations of the Trustees of the UMWA Health and Retirement Funds called
Kaiser Steel Corporation v. Mullins. In the latter case, my client lost 6 to 3 in an
opinion by Justice White.
In any event, I had one other clarification or amplification. I have reported in
the prior sessions that I assisted James McKay who had been appointed an
Independent Counsel to investigate certain allegations respecting Lyn Nofziger, a
White House official in the administration of President Reagan. That
investigation by McKay also explored charges against the then-Attorney General
in the Reagan Administration, Edwin Meese III. In my discussion, I had left that
unclear. McKay made a lengthy report in respect to the Meese inquiry dated
July 5, 1988, and I and my partner Wendy White assisted Mr. McKay.
Mr. Schultz: Okay. So we talked about a number of cases that you did pro bono and projects
such as the special counsel investigation you just discussed. In addition to that,
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you have served on an extraordinary number of committees, including the
Lawyers’ Committee, being chair of the Washington Lawyers’ Committee, cochair of the National Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under the Law; D.C.
Circuit Historical Society; numerous D.C. Bar activities. These are all listed on
your resume. You have a sort of complete resume that lists all these activities,
and I think it would be a good idea to append it to your history. I’m not going to
ask you to go through each of these, but maybe you can talk a little bit about what
you think drew you to do all this work and also how it fits into law practice or
how it fit into your law practice.
Mr. Pollak: I was originally drawn to law because I was interested in public service and I was
fortunate in being able to go into public service as a member of the federal
government from 1961 to 1969. Even by that time, I had made it a part of my
professional life to be a volunteer participant in public activities where my law
training was useful. My first such activity was while I was a new lawyer at
Covington & Burling. I found a model for combining private practice with
pro bono or unpaid civic volunteer work in Charles Horsky, well known, even
then in 1956, 1957, 1958, a partner at Covington & Burling. Charlie was
president of the Washington Housing Association, an organization begun in the
time of Eleanor Roosevelt and devoted to addressing the problems of low income
people having inadequate housing available to them. I volunteered as a member
of the Washington Housing Association and served on committees, including the
urban renewal committee which I chaired. Ultimately, while I was in the United
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States government, First Assistant in the Civil Rights Division, I served as
president of the Washington Housing Association which by then was called the
Washington Planning and Housing Association.
Mr. Schultz: Let me just back up for one minute. Was Covington & Burling’s commitment or
involvement in pro bono work a factor in your choosing that firm as your first
Mr. Pollak: It was. I was at Yale and there was a strain of the Yale Law School that favored
public service by the law school graduates. My interest in law firms in
Washington was in three firms that had a significant number of Yale law school
graduates in their leadership. Covington & Burling, where later Judge Gesell was
a partner, and he interviewed at Yale; and a firm called Cox, Langford, Stoddard
& Cutler, a nine-person firm in which Lloyd Cutler and later Judge Louis
Oberdorfer were partners; and Arnold & Porter, where Thurman Arnold, who had
been a professor at Yale, was a name partner. I interviewed with those firms in
New Haven and went down to Washington to interview at Covington. I accepted
that at Covington & Burling my choice of outside activities was my own to make,
that it would have the support of the firm, and that I would be called on to do my
law firm work at the same time as I did outside work.
Mr. Schultz: Okay, so you were in the government, and now you’re coming out of the
government. Was this a factor in choosing Shea & Gardner?
Mr. Pollak: It wasn’t really a factor in choosing Shea & Gardner. I can’t recall any discussion
about pro bono at all. Frank understood I had no clients to bring with me. He
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was confident that that would all come in the future, and that I should feel easy
about what I would be doing. He’d see I had enough to do. I just assumed that
I’d find a happy home there and could make my professional life what I wanted.
And that’s the way it turned out.
Mr. Schultz: How did this pro bono develop for you?
Mr. Pollak: There was either a movie or saying long ago called “Available Jones.” I was just
an “Available Jones.” When people had something to be done for no pay, they
often came to me to do it, and I had no interest in saying no and generally said
yes. There were opportunities that came along and I generally treated those
unpaid activities as calling for the same kind of attention and energy as regular
law work, and one assignment led to another. I don’t really recall how the earliest
outside unpaid pro bono activities came on. The first outside position I took on
was chair of the newly created Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights
Under Law. I joined Shea & Gardner in March of 1969. I must have become
chair of that Committee later that year and held it for two years.
Mr. Schultz: Who was the first chair?
Mr. Pollak: John E. Nolan of Steptoe & Johnson whom I had known in the federal
government. John probably asked me if I would succeed him. John had been
Special Assistant to Attorney General Robert Kennedy.
Mr. Schultz: What was the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights?
Mr. Pollak: In 1963, as I understand it, in anticipation of the coming passage of the public
accommodations statute, Attorney General Kennedy, Assistant Attorney General
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Burke Marshall, and Assistant Attorney General Louis Oberdorfer, with the
support of President Kennedy, worked with the leadership of the ABA to gain an
establishment of a lawyers organization that could produce a large cadre of
volunteer attorneys who were to engage in litigation to secure the rights
guaranteed by the anticipated public accommodations law. It was thought that
there would be such broad scale opposition to opening public accommodations in
the South to Blacks that the resources of the Justice Department would be
inadequate to the law enforcement task. So this lawyers’ organization was
established at the request of the President, called the National Lawyers’
Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. The first Co-Chairs were leading
members of the bar, former president of the ABA and Philadelphia attorney
Bernard Segal, and a prominent New York attorney, Harrison Tweed. The
Lawyers’ Committee has always been headed by two lawyers, co-chairs, and the
second or third group of chairs included Lou Oberdorfer, now, of course, a Senior
District Judge. Lou secured a grant from the Ford Foundation looking toward
establishment of local lawyers’ committees in major urban areas around the
country. The Washington Lawyers’ Committee was one of those local lawyers’
committees. It was organized in 1969, some five years after the National
Committee was born, with Nolan as chair and then I succeeded him. So I had two
active years there. A dimension of my activity was that just one of my
undertakings was to handle the Griffin v. Breckenridge case, but we were
providing pro bono representation through the Lawyers’ Committee for all kinds
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of civil rights matters, and I was choosing staff as well. One of the points for
which I should be remembered is that I hired Rod Boggs back in 1972. Rod still
heads the Committee now in 2010 and has been a distinguished leader of that
organization. So, I devoted myself to that assignment, and then when the unified
bar was created in 1972, some people reached out and asked me if I would run for
the Board. I did and was elected and that spawned my many assignments with the
Bar, including, seven years later, being elected President-Elect. Before that, I’d
served on the Bar Board for several years.
Mr. Schultz: What are your reflections on the role of the D.C. Bar in the practice of law?
Mr. Pollak: My reflections are that a unified bar, meaning that all the lawyers who practice in
the jurisdiction here in the District of Columbia must be members of the Bar in
order to have a license to practice, is a good thing. The rules for the Bar are
created by the highest local court in the District, the District of Columbia Court of
Appeals. The body of lawyers elect their leaders, and the Bar is committed to
enforcing high standards of ethics. It’s devoted to other purposes that lawyers
should hold high, including affording representation to the poor and the
disadvantaged, pro bono representation. I think that there’s a place for all the
voluntary bars which are devoted to particular groups or particular purposes like
the Environmental Bar, the Federal Communications Bar, or the Asian-American
Bar. There are many different voluntary bars, but the unified bar, the D.C. Bar, is
the Bar of everyone who practices here. That’s a very positive institution and has
made a distinguished record. I was fortunate to have been elected as president for
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the 1980-1981 term. I served as President-Elect with John Pickering, which was a
rewarding experience. John, a uniquely experienced, capable and humanistic
attorney, set a high standard for me. I ran against two distinguished lawyers,
Charles Horsky, my mentor, and Herbert Forrest, and through some, I always
thought, quirk, I was elected over those two persons who I thought brought great
qualifications to the office and would have prevailed. In any event, one of the
rewarding things about being president of the Bar is that in addition to the benefits
and burdens of serving as president, once you’ve served, you’re among a group
that’s often asked to take particular assignments later for no pay, including
heading up the D.C. Bar’s Pro Bono Program which I did in the early 1990s and
presided over a review and reorganization of the program. I consider that one of
the most rewarding pro bono undertakings I ever did.
Mr. Schultz: What does the Pro Bono Program do?
Mr. Pollak: The Bar’s Pro Bono Program has always been devoted to encouraging lawyers to
undertake representation of the poor and disadvantaged on a no-pay basis. In
1990, I was invested as chair of the governing body of the Bar’s Pro Bono
Program which at that time was called the Public Service Activities Committee.
Shortly after that, Bar president Sally Determan determined to undertake or to
sponsor a review of the program to see if it was accomplishing the purposes for
which it was created. With some effort, I convinced her that she should not go
outside the Public Service Activities Committee for the leadership of this review
committee, that there was not much for me to do as chair of the Public Service
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Activities Committee while the review was going on, and that she should ask me
to chair the review, which she did. Working with nine or ten volunteer capable
lawyers and with Katherine Mazzaferri who was Director of the Bar, we
conducted an in-depth review over two years. The major contributors were
Jane Belford, Joe Sellers, Rob Weiner, Katherine Mazzaferri, and the now-head
of the Pro Bono Institute, Esther Lardent. We looked all over the country for
what bars were doing in the pro bono arena. We considered that the D.C. Bar was
not performing in as useful way as it should and replaced the programs with those
that were at the cutting edge around the United States. We found significant
patterns in the program of the San Francisco Bar and created a new structure,
which I’m happy to say endures to this day, in a very comprehensive report that
was submitted to the Board of Governors in 1992 when Jamie Gorelick was
president. I consider that the 75-page report of the Public Service Activities
Review Committee, issued June 15, 1992, to be among the best projects with
which I have been connected. Very rewarding. Its recommendations included
many strong points. One of them was that every other year the Bar’s Pro Bono
Program should seek out a new activity so that it would never become rooted in
stationary programs, that it should always be looking for something new,
something changed, so that it didn’t become routine and uncreative. It still does
create new activities.
Mr. Schultz: What are some of those most significant activities that the program has
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Mr. Pollak: The most significant was that we created what we called initially a Law Firm Pro
Bono Legal Clinic. We asked law firms to take a night twice each year at which
they would send a cadre of 10 or 12 lawyers. The staff of the Pro Bono Program
would in advance of the night be “in-taking” indigent clients in need of
representation and developing the case materials for each of these potential
clients. Then, on the designated night, the Bar would invite the clients in, the law
firm would send the lawyers in, the Bar would marry up clients and lawyers, and
each of the clients would go home with a lawyer who had taken the case. There
would be family law cases, child custody cases, spousal abuse cases,
Social Security-type cases, landlord/tenant-type cases, and adoption cases.
Sometimes a lawyer in the law firm would have a case for a year or two that the
lawyer undertook at the Pro Bono Clinic. The law firm would agree to come to
the clinic say twice a year and take cases. I remember going. The Pro Bono
Program would serve pizza the night of the clinic. I went as a volunteer lawyer
the first night and took a case. Arnold & Porter was one of the first law firms to
volunteer. That program continues. It’s now called the Advice and Referral
Clinic. That was a wholly new undertaking. Today the Bar Pro Bono Program
has many different activities. For instance, it staffs something called the
Landlord/Tenant Resource Center, which is housed at the Landlord/Tenant Court
and serves individuals who are called, subpoenaed, to come to the
Landlord/Tenant Court, and come without a lawyer. They can come to the
Resource Center, show their court papers, and obtain information as to what’s
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happening to them. If they need a lawyer, there’s another program that will
provide an attorney for that day when an individual needs an attorney. Another
aspect of the Bar’s Pro Bono Program is that under the so-called “referendum,”
adopted by the membership while I was president, unified bar dues cannot be used
for anything but general public purposes and the Pro Bono Program is not
recognized as one of those purposes. The Pro Bono Program must raise all of its
funding. So one of the things that we recommended in 1992 was that the Program
conduct an annual fundraising event. That has become the annual reception
honoring the new Bar president, and it’s been going on each year. This year it
raised over $620,000 or $630,000. So that was another creation of our report.
The Bar Board of Governors has asked me to undertake other assignments
which I’ve always been prepared to do. One of the particularly rewarding
assignments, which I performed over eight years on two different appointments,
was to be a member of the Judicial Nominations Commission, which statutorily
has the duty of naming the chief judges of the Superior Court and the District of
Columbia Court of Appeals, and when there are judicial vacancies on these two
courts, proposing three candidates, one of whom is to be nominated by the
President for service as a judge. I served with judges of the United States District
Court on that commission, including Chief Judge Aubrey Robinson, District
Judge Harold Greene, and District Judge Norma Holloway Johnson. That’s an
excellent institution, has produced an excellent bench of both courts. In my
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experience, the Commission was dedicated to quality and diversity in candidates
to present to the President.
Mr. Schultz: In what years did you serve on the Commission?
Mr. Pollak: The Bar has a general limit of service of no more than six years. I served a sixyear term and ended up as chair. During my service, the chairs were
Judge Robinson and then Wiley Branton. I succeeded Wiley Branton. I was
succeeded as chair by Judy Lichtman, an outstanding attorney and leader of the
National Women’s Law Center. Now-District Judge Paul Friedman succeeded
Judy. When Paul was named United States District Judge, and he had been
serving as a nominee of the Bar on the Commission, the Bar asked me to fill out
his term so I served for two more years. My first service was January 1984 to
January 1990; my second, July 1994 to January 1996.
Mr. Schultz: Tell me about Wiley Branton.
Mr. Pollak: I had known Wiley in the Department of Justice where he was a Special Assistant
to Attorney General Clark or Katzenbach. Then I served with him on this
Commission. When he was on the Commission, he was a partner at Sidley &
Austin. I credit him with providing black attorneys with a model for the private
practice of law. At Sidley & Austin, he mentored a number of outstanding black
attorneys. That firm was ahead of others in the District in diversity and I credit
Wiley with accomplishing that.
Mr. Schultz: Didn’t he have a history in civil rights?
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Mr. Pollak: Wiley was a leader in the fight for civil rights in Arkansas, and then came to
Washington in the Kennedy-Johnson years. He was an excellent chair of the
Judicial Nominations Commission. He was distinguished by his commitment to
civil rights, his commitment to excellence and diversity in candidates for the
bench, and his really engaging interpersonal relations. He was a winning human
Mr. Schultz: You have a note here in terms of the D.C. Bar, it says, “the referendum.”
Mr. Pollak: The D.C. Bar is an agency created by the District of Columbia Court of Appeals
in which all lawyers practicing in the District must belong. In that respect, it’s not
like a voluntary bar. A voluntary bar is free to take any positions that it may wish
in behalf of the people who voluntarily become members. The unified bar, along
with unified bars around the country, engaged in a learning experience as to the
existence of some limitations on its position-taking because it’s speaking for all
the lawyers who have no choice but to belong. In the early years there was less
awareness of those limitations, and this came to a head in the time of
John Pickering’s and my presidencies, 1979 to 1981. The voluntary Bar
Association of the District of Columbia was maintaining a library at the federal
Courthouse, and, perhaps because of the creation of the unified bar, found that its
income stream was inadequate to continue to maintain the library. It offered the
library to the unified D.C. Bar and invited the D.C. Bar to take it over and
maintain it. The voluntary bar said to John Pickering, who was the D.C. Bar
president at the time, that the voluntary bar would support a dues increase for
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funding the library. So John Pickering and the D.C. Bar sought approval by the
District of Columbia Court of Appeals for an increase in dues to fund the library
for the main part but also for some other aspects of its obligations. Well, this kind
of kicked over a volcano and out of it arose motions both to oppose the increase in
dues and to limit the use of dues to what the movants regarded as the public
purposes for which the D.C. Bar was created. Ultimately in my term as Bar
president, there was a referendum of the Bar’s thousands of members on these
limitations. I was the president of the entity seeking to avoid the limitations, or at
least those that we thought were inappropriate, and it was a very active campaign.
Among the leaders of the proponents of the limitations was Nate Dodel who was a
Department of Justice employee. He was a very committed opponent of a range
of expenditures by the Bar. So that was fought out, and the limitations were
adopted. The Bar achieved some moderation in the reach of the limitations. The
outcome, while we opposed it at the time, has turned out to be something that can
be lived with by the unified Bar. Activities that aren’t classified as core activities
can be funded through contributions. Since all lawyers practicing here must be
members, some limitations on use of dues are not inappropriate.
Mr. Schultz: Did the library qualify as a —
Mr. Pollak: We never acquired the library. We never got the funding. The best you could say
is it was a great big active fight. A large measure of my time as president of the
Bar, a post I have characterized as being counsel for the Bar, I spent litigating
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over these limitation efforts and setting up the structure for the vote on the
Mr. Schultz: Were you in court over these?
Mr. Pollak: Since the Bar is an entity created by the District of Columbia Court of Appeals,
we were litigating in front of the District of Columbia Court of Appeals in terms
of the structuring of this referendum and its outcome. I kept a docket and was
filing official papers. I felt my responsibility was to be satisfied as the ultimate
client with everything we were doing, reviewing everything we were filing and
saying about the referendum.
Mr. Schultz: How much of your time did you spend as president of the Bar?
Mr. Pollak: I don’t know the answer to that, but a lot. But I maintained my practice
throughout all these activities.
Mr. Schultz: How did you do that?
Mr. Pollak: I don’t know. I just did. I had colleagues who were working with me and just
squeezed the evening hours to do whatever was required.
Mr. Schultz: Did your firm ever question the amount of time you were spending on all these
outside activities for no pay?
Mr. Pollak: Not to my knowledge. I must have it down somewhere. In 1993, the firm elected
me chair of the executive committee, so my partners must have been satisfied
with how I spent my time. And that was then a big commitment of time inside the
firm, particularly as we undertook a look at the rules and procedures for
compensating partners. We had had a system which was heavily influenced by
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seniority, and there was pressure to move to a system more business oriented,
which is where firms have gone subsequently.
Mr. Schultz: Did you talk about that in the oral history?
Mr. Pollak: I have not. After serving in the government from 1961 to 1969, I harbored the
hope that I would find another leadership position in the government in later
administrations. It seemed to me that after having held a presidential
appointment, I couldn’t reasonably go in as a line attorney. No presidential office
ever came my way, although I sought one. So these pro bono activities were for
me again the opportunity for public service that I was seeking when I couldn’t
serve in the government. I served in the House of Delegates of the ABA when I
was president and president-elect of the D.C. Bar, but I didn’t find that
particularly rewarding. Not that it wasn’t doing useful policy things. My focus
has always been on local activities, except for the National Lawyers’ Committee
on which I’ve always been active since going on its board in 1969 on getting out
of the government. I’ve done that national activity, but otherwise my focus has
been on the District of Columbia.
Mr. Schultz: When you took on a new pro bono assignment, did you have to get approval from
your firm?
Mr. Pollak: Certainly if it was a case, I did. I had to go through the usual conflicts check. If it
was a board position, I’m doubtful that I did. I probably told Frank Shea who was
for a long period the head of the firm.
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Mr. Schultz: But even for a case, assuming there were no conflict, did the firm have to review
it in terms of resources?
Mr. Pollak: I think that in a loose way a case that would require significant application of
time, particularly of others besides myself, I would clear it with the head of the
firm. I don’t think I ever was denied approval. But there’s some in terrorem
effect of the staffing requirements. In other words, the National Lawyers’
Committee often has major trials, major district court level cases in the South,
which would require significant discovery and travel. I didn’t volunteer to take
one of those on because I didn’t think the firm had the wherewithal to handle that.
I was respectful of the Cravath firm, Sullivan & Cromwell, and other New York
firms, and Wilmer Cutler & Pickering, Arnold & Porter, that took on those cases
with great commitments of first-rate personnel. There were cases in which I was
involved, pro bono cases, federal cases, in which we invested large amounts of
personnel, lawyer time. But those certainly I would clear. They required
commitments of major resources.
Mr. Schultz: Let’s talk about the D.C. Circuit. What’s the Special Committee on Gender Bias?
Mr. Pollak: In a period of time, about the early and mid-1990s, the D.C. Circuit created a
Task Force on Gender, Race, and Ethnic Bias. The task force was composed of
District Judge Joyce Hens Green, Court of Appeals Judge Patricia Wald, Chief
Judge John Penn, District Judge Ritchie, and District Judge Paul Friedman, and it
created a special committee on gender which was chaired by Professor Vicki
Jackson of Georgetown, Professor Susan Ross of Georgetown, and Susan Liss of
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the Civil Rights Division. I was a member of that special committee, and I
headed up a committee on litigation process. I expended significant time working
on the reports of the committee, particularly with Vicki Jackson. It was a
distinguished group of people. For one reason or another, several judges on the
Court of Appeals were opposed to the activities of this Gender Bias Task Force,
and felt that it was intruding on Article III rights and responsibilities of the
judges. Ultimately, the product of the task force and committee was pretty much
laid on the table, not able to have much positive effect, except perhaps for lifting
awareness among the court and its personnel, including staff and judges. But for
one reason or another, it was upsetting to a majority of the members of the Court
of Appeals.
Mr. Schultz: What year was this?
Mr. Pollak: I have in front of me a draft final report of the Special Committee on Gender
dated January 1995.
Mr. Schultz: But it was never released?
Mr. Pollak: It was released. But all that happened was it was submitted to the Court.
Recommendations for a committee on implementation were not acted upon. They
ended up on the bookshelf. It was a good report and deserved a better, more
useful, outcome.
Mr. Schultz: What did it recommend, roughly?
Mr. Pollak: I would have to refresh myself on what it recommended. The court is not an
institution distinguished from the rest of society. Ethnic and gender bias exist and
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have existed. The work of the Special Committee on Gender was both one of
finding the facts out with respect to biases and remedies that could be put in place
or have been accomplished. I’m sure the report would make significant reading
today, and there may well be recommendations that are still relevant.
Mr. Schultz: Had other circuits tried anything like this?
Mr. Pollak: My recollection is that they had, although this may have been the farthest reach of
it. I noticed that the litigation committee that I chaired, litigation process, was
composed of highly distinguished members of the Bar and the whole Special
Committee on Gender was made up of really great lawyers, great participants in
our Bar.
Mr. Schultz: What you have there, is that a report? It’s a very big document.
Mr. Pollak: It’s the report, right. It’s the draft final report. I mean this was a multi-year effort
taken on at the request of the Court of Appeals, so it was taken very seriously by
all of those who worked on it. My litigation process committee included
Michelle Ellison; Patricia Gern; Carolyn Lamm, now president of the ABA;
Susan Liss was a liaison; Dan Margolis, former name partner of a D.C. law firm;
and Roger Warin, now head of Steptoe & Johnson. It was a significant
committee. I respectfully say that the reports of the committee were sensitive to
the concerns that troubled the judges who opposed what we were doing. It was
unfortunate that the work was not fully utilized.
Mr. Schultz: Do you want to say anything more about it?
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Mr. Pollak: I will recall one aspect. We interviewed – that is, the Committee interviewed
judges on the court about gender bias and published – that is, made notes of the
interviews, and those were put in memoranda form and reviewed by the judge. I
interviewed District Judge June Green. She was the second woman on the U.S.
District Court for the District of Columbia, nominated by President Lyndon
Mr. Schultz: That’s right.
Mr. Pollak: When she was named to the Court, she reported in this interview that a number of
judges were hostile to her presence on the Court. And for a significant period, she
had no courtroom of her own. She had an office that was a long way from the
courtroom to which she was assigned. She recalled that she used to walk in the
interior corridor with her robe in her hand and would put on her robe in the hall
when she got to the courtroom.
So, we have had great advances with respect to gender bias. This report of
the Special Committee on Gender prepared by the D.C. Circuit Task Force on
Gender, Race, and Ethnic Bias, was published in the Georgetown Law Journal of
May 1996 with a forward by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who sent me a copy of
her forward in which she said, “To Stephen Pollak, applause and appreciation for
your service on the task force. Ruth Bader Ginsburg.” I have this 84 Georgetown
Law Journal 1651 (1996) which is Justice Ginsburg’s forward and by looking
there, one can find both her forward and then at least a significant publication of
the work of the Special Committee.
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Mr. Schultz: Okay.
Mr. Pollak: I have a very valuable library of civil rights materials that I have collected during
my time at the bar, and many of them are probably out of publication and largely
unavailable. I’m wondering what to do with it. I don’t think that it should be lost.
Mr. Schultz: You probably should talk to the Georgetown Law School Library or something.
Mr. Pollak: Maybe I could ask Yale.
Mr. Schultz: The great thing is that they can probably put it all online.
This is a good stopping place.
Mr. Pollak: Okay.