Remarks Following Receipt of Hargraves Freedom Prize by Judge Howard Dana, '62 at Reunion 1997May 24, 1997
Story posted May 24, 1997
President Edwards, Secretary, Senator, Classmate Cohen, Trustees, Fellow Graduates, Family, and Friends, I am humbled by and very grateful for this honor. Thank you very much. Judges, for a variety of reasons, rarely hear praise. Appellate judges almost never do.
I also feel a little sheepish about this honor because I knew one of the best kept secrets in Maine, a secret that meant we could not fail. In 1983 I knew that Maine lawyers were dedicated to their community and their profession and to generally making things better for their fellow citizens. They routinely fulfill their ethical duties even when the government drops the ball. I didn't know that Maine lawyers would lead the nation in their voluntary efforts on behalf of the poor. But I'm not surprised.
My function was political and organizational skills I learned right here and in one of those soon to be forgotten institutions where we learned to govern ourselves and as the manager of the Glee Club. If memory serves me, it was far easier to get 1,700 Maine lawyers to serve the poor than to get the Meddiebempsters to show up on time for a concert in Cleveland. I can't look out at all of you, without trying to squeeze in a short commercial.
"Nothing," wrote former ABA President Reginald Heber Smith, over 80 years ago, "rankles more in the human heart than a brooding sense of injustice [I]njustice makes you want to pull things down." This is one of the reasons that access to the justice system is a very conservative idea. Some of our leaders, however, don't seem to get it. So, if you are so fortunate as to be a Maine citizen, the next time you sit down over coffee with your State Representative, your State Senator, or your Governor, please thank him or her for passing the Maine filing fee bill which will annually provide almost a million dollars for civil legal services for the poor. Also, please thank Congressmen Allen ('67) and Baldacci and Senators Snowe and Collins for standing up for Justice in Congress. While you're at it, please also thank Secretary Cohen who led the fight in the Senate last year. I'm very glad our personal safety is in his hands, but the forces of goodness and light will miss him in the Senate.
If you are not one of the lucky ones to live here, the next time you see your Congressperson or Senator, find out if they support continued federal funding for civil legal services for the poor. If they do-- thank them. If they don't-- pray for their souls.
Thank you Bowdoin for this honor which I accept on behalf of all Maine and Bowdoin lawyers who are working to redeem our National Pledge of Justice for All.
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