Many moons ago, I clerked on the U.S. Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit. I worked for a wonderful man, a former U.S. Marine with a 1950s sense of humor, a Reagan appointee. While he has since died, I recently thought again… about one day in his chambers. A famous, irrepressible and ever-candid lawyer — and Harvard Law professor – was preparing to present a case to the three-judge panel. He was — and is — a celebrated appellate litigator. His name was and is Alan Dershowitz.
Dershowitz is a bit of a character, a noted scholar of constitutional and criminal law, but a rough and ready legal maverick, always candid. He is also a notorious political liberal. While I went to Columbia Law School, friends that knew him – and anyone who has ever read about him – know he is outspoken.
So, I had read his briefs. They were, as expected, cogent. He had tried to squeeze too many words into them, and the judges had pointed that out. But otherwise, his voluminous written material had permitted an allowance of considerable time – which is rather rare – to present his case. I sat in the back of the room, wondering how he would tear through 20-some legal points in as many minutes. He would have to be a speed demon, and surely would lose his race with the clock.
The proceedings commenced, and a funny thing happened. This legendary legal mind was ahead of us. In so many words, he calmly, and without the expected fanfare and fireworks, approached the bench and said – now set aside all my arguments, except this one. And he then used his entire 20 minutes to carefully articulate –
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