03.25.21

Video And Text Of Leahy's Senate Floor Tribute To The Late 2nd Circuit Court Judge Peter Hall

Senator Leahy late Wednesday took the Senate Floor to pay tribute to the late Peter Hall, Judge on the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals - - - -

VIDEO LINK:    https://youtu.be/-c48JdNikLg 

 

 

Senate Floor

Wednesday, March 25, 2021 

Remembering Judge Peter W. Hall

 

  Madam President, now on an entirely different matter, I want to speak

about a dear friend, U.S. Second Circuit Court Judge Peter Hall, who

died on March 11.

  Ever since then, I have thought back to a conversation I had with

him--just like many, many conversations I had with Judge Hall over the

years--just a few days before he died. He was telling me about the

health concerns he had, very serious ones, but that he was going to try

one other thing that weekend that he had hoped may give him a longer

spell of life, but it didn't. It was only a matter of days after that

last conversation. As I said, it was one of many I had with him. A few

days after that last conversation, he died. He died on March 11, just 1

week after announcing his decision to take senior status.

  Chief judge of the Second Circuit, Debra Ann Livingston, gave a

remarkable tribute in which she acknowledged his death.

  In speaking for the court, Chief Judge Livingston said:

 

       Judge Hall was our beloved colleague, and this is a

     grievous loss for our Court and for all of our judges. Over

     the course of nearly 17 years on the Court of Appeals, Judge

     Hall distinguished himself as a thoughtful and humane jurist.

     He was generous with his colleagues and ever considerate in

     matters both big and small. Judge Hall was committed to

     public service and taught us all by his example. He was a

     kind and very dear friend. This is a sad day for the judges

     of the Court of Appeals.

 

  A deeper read of the two-page announcement offered more insights that

help us understand what made Judge Hall the exceptional jurist that he

was. Noting that Judge Hall left a ``lasting mark'' on a generation of

law clerks, Chief Judge Livingston shared an anecdote as was told by

one of those clerks.

  She said:

 

       One winter morning we were working away in chambers, and he

     had not turned up. Not unusual, but we were all wondering if

     something had happened. He rolled in midday with his dirty

     work pants and torn flannel shirt--in other words, no more

     haggard than usual. He explained that he had taken his truck

     through the woods that morning after taking care of the

     horses but had gotten stuck. Luckily, he had an axe, so it

     was only a matter of chopping down a few trees to put under

     the truck tires for traction. He freed himself and made his

     way into chambers like it was nothing--just another day on

     the Second Circuit.

 

  Chief Judge Livingston repeated that story, told by one of Judge

Hall's clerks.

  But, you know, the story speaks to the person Judge Hall was: never

too important to carry out the chores of the day; never too far from

the Vermont woods that he loved so much.

  I don't know how many times I would talk with him, and we might talk

a little bit about the law or things like that, and then we would

quickly go to tales of other Vermonters we knew, the things they had

done, the places that we liked especially in our State.

  And I thought, as more tributes have flooded in, the most common

remembrances, of Judge Hall include words such as ``decent,''

``gentle,'' and ``caring.''

  His long career, which spanned years in both private practice and as

a Federal prosecutor before joining the bench, demonstrated his

commitment to the rule of law. It was a commitment that he showed early

on when he served as president of the Legal Aid Clinic, while still

earning his juris doctorate at Cornell Law School.

  When I was chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee in 2003, I was

proud to recommend Peter Hall for the circuit court vacancy left by the

passing of another dear friend, Judge Fred I. Parker. And it was no

surprise to me that his nomination was met with very little resistance,

either from the White House or from Republicans and Democrats alike on

the Judiciary Committee.

  I teased him sometimes about the fact that he was born in Hartford,

CT, but moved to Vermont at the age of 11. Did that make him a real

Vermonter? And the reaction I got from him was: Patrick, my great-

great-grandfather served as Governor of Vermont in the mid-1850s. I had

to admit, the judge had me there.

  He always considered Vermont his home, and we are grateful that he

did. Marcelle and I enjoyed our friendship, and we send our sincere

condolences to his wife Maria Dunton and his five children and his five

grandchildren.

  I would also note, in concluding, that Judge Hall's former law clerks

released a touching tribute, and I ask consent--and I will ask consent

in a moment that it be printed in the Record, along with a list of

their names, over 60 law clerks.

  Madam President, I ask unanimous consent that at the conclusion of my

remarks, their statement and their names be included in the Record.

  Vermont and the legal community and the Federal bench have lost a

great champion of justice.

  As Chief Judge Livingston concluded in her statement, ``Peter Hall

lived a life of fidelity to principles, kindness to individuals, and

service to the human community. He will be greatly missed.'' This is a

great truth

  There being no objection, the material was ordered to be printed in

the Record, as follows:

 

    Statement Honoring Judge Peter W. Hall, by His Former Law Clerks

       On March 11, 2021, Vermont, the U.S. Court of Appeals for

     the Second Circuit, and our nation lost one of our best.

     Today, we honor Second Circuit Judge Peter W. Hall and write

     in honor of his memory.

       Since his appointment in 2004, Judge Hall served on three-

     judge panels in over 750 cases and authored more than 150

     opinions in published decisions. We consider ourselves

     extremely fortunate to have had the opportunity to assist him

     in that great work and to benefit from his example,

     mentorship, and friendship. To us, Judge Hall defines

     integrity and public service. His commitment to protecting

     and upholding the U.S. Constitution cannot be overstated.

       Judge Hall was exactly what everyone should want in a

     jurist. If your faith in the American legal system had waned,

     Judge Hall could restore it. Litigants arguing before him

     have told us that from the bench, Judge Hall was fair-minded,

     engaged, perceptive, and honest. And that is exactly how he

     was in chambers too. Far from the cynical suggestion that

     federal judges are merely instruments of their appointing

     presidents, Judge Hall embodied the judicial oath,

     approaching every case individually and without any political

     predisposition. All that mattered was achieving the just and

     legally correct result in every case, no matter how high

     profile (or low profile) the litigants or issue.

       Judge Hall kept his home chambers in the United States Post

     Office and Court House in downtown Rutland, Vermont. Judge

     Hall affectionately referred to Rutland as ``the Center of

     the Universe,'' and so it was for the years we were with him

     there. Clerking for him was not only an education in the law,

     but in life outside of the urban centers where many of us

     went to law school. Who knew there were so many nuances to

     the colors of fall foliage or that there was a ``mud season''

     between winter and spring? Traveling down to New York City

     with him to hear cases once a month was a study in contrast.

     Judge Hall demonstrated how to flourish in both worlds; he

     was as comfortable in downtown Rutland as he was in the

     marble courtrooms of the Thurgood Marshall U.S. Courthouse at

     Foley Square. Judge Hall could seamlessly go from tending to

     his horses on a Saturday to representing the Federal Judge's

     Association at the International Association of Judges on a

     Tuesday.

       Judge Hall possessed a rare and dedicated humility. You

     will not find indulgent, flowery, or self-aggrandizing prose

     in his opinions. Instead, you will find clear explanations of

     what the law is and how it applied to the litigants before

     him, written to be as understandable as possible to anyone

     reading the opinion later. Of the more than 100 majority

     opinions and countless summary orders Judge Hall authored in

     his time on the Second Circuit, the Supreme Court of the

     United States reversed only two (partially). We think that is

     a pretty good record, but you would never have heard Judge

     Hall tell you so.

       We are particularly grateful to Judge Hall for his

     willingness to look outside the traditional boxes for his law

     clerks. We are a unique crew, at least as law clerks to

     judges on the Circuit Courts of Appeals go. Many of us were

     non-traditional law students. Others graduated from law

     schools outside of the elite institutions whose students can

     expect to go on to Second Circuit clerkships.

       Others still took non-linear career paths to a clerkship,

     working in the law before coming to chambers. Some of us were

     all three.

 

[[Page S1744]]

 

     Judge Hall cared deeply about giving Vermonters, particularly

     Vermont Law School graduates, and those from non-traditional

     paths and backgrounds opportunities to learn and excel. Our

     lives have been forever changed by the gift of having clerked

     in his chambers. We hope that Judge Hall's leadership in

     elevating diverse voices and experiences will further cement

     his legacy on the Court and in the law. We owe him more than

     we could ever repay.

       Judge Hall was a hero and a guiding light to many of us. He

     was all a federal judge and a career public servant should

     be. The United States is a more just nation because of his

     decades of public service. We miss him dearly.

       M. Michael Cole; Timothy C. Doherty, Jr.; Minor Myers; Nora

     Von Stange; Thomas Brad Davey; Erik W. Weibust; Robin D.

     Barovick; Samuel I. Portnoy; Timothy C. Perry; Stacey D.

     Neumann; Rachel Hannaford; Russell Plato; Jill Pfenning;

     Reagan Roth; Melissa Kelly; Sanja Zgonjanin; Peter Sax;

     Elizabeth (Betsy) Grossman; Tom Valente; Nikhil Rao; Alison

     Share; Nomi Barst/Berenson.

       Christopher Worth; Matthew Grieco; Justin Brown; Peter Fox;

     Katherine Padgett; Mark W. Vorkink; Shannon Wolf; Nathan P.

     Murphy; Jonathan D. Lamberti; Molly E. Watson; Jonathan R.

     Voegele; Megan E. Larkin; John H. Bernetich; Austin

     Winniford; Aiysha S. Hussain; Mark Harrison Foster, Jr.;

     Lydie Essama; Lucas C. Buzzard; Patrick A. Woods; Peter V.

     Keays; Molly R. Gray; Michael A. Mcguane.

       Mike L. DiGiulio; Caryn A. Devins; Stephen F. Coteus; Ryan

     M. Royce; Peter I. Dysart; L. Raymond Sun; Matthew J. Greer;

     Danielle C. Quinn; Alex Nelson; Caroline C. Cease; Spencer R.

     Allen; Elise Milne Keys; Leslie Cahill; Jenna Scoville;

     Brentley Smith; Fiona O'Carroll; Amelia Hritz; Kelly Lester;

     Joseph Hartunian; Zachary Dayno; Atticus DeProspo; John

     Howard; Jessica Bullock.

 

  Mr. LEAHY. I yield the floor.

  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Minnesota.