Duck! and Gather

Archive for November 2010

I spent last weekend in Pasadena attending a celebration of Judge Alfred T. Goodwin’s 40 years of service on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. At 87, Judge Goodwin is still spry, and an active judge on this circuit.

The celebration was organized and attended by Judge Goodwin’s clerks from over the past 40 years, and even from the 1960s, when he was a state judge in Oregon. There were 80 or so of us, including some spouses and children. Our ages ranged from fresh-faced law school grads serving as his current clerks, to 70-somethings, and every age in between. In this way alone, it was a unique gathering.

Moreover, everyone seemed open, gregarious, congenial, intelligent, and kind-hearted. I sort of suspect this is because of Judge Goodwin himself. I mean, those adjectives describe the man, and I suspect we former clerks kind of fall in line with his demeanor when in his orbit.

But the gathering was even more significant to me for another reason.

At the Saturday night dinner, there was an open mike. Many former clerks got up and told funny stories about their interactions with the judge.

I didn’t get up. This must have been the first open mike in 25 years of weddings and other gatherings at which I passed on an open mike.

It wasn’t that I didn’t have anything to say. Instead, it was that, frankly, I just didn’t remember any conversations from 1991-92, when I clerked. My memory doesn’t work that way.

Early Sunday morning, after sunrise, I walked around the streets of Pasadena. As I did, my thoughts about the weekend crystalized. Why, I asked myself, was I so eager to attend these events celebrating Judge Goodwin? From where did this eagerness arise, given that I had left the practice of law in 1996, never to look back, and that I couldn’t even remember much about my time with the judge?

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for the money has gone too far

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