Today I’m very pleased to be able to host a guest blog from the Hon. James V. Menno ‘86, who recently retired after more than two decades of service as an associate justice of the Massachusetts Probate and Family Court.
Despite the number of people sitting on the hard benches in this sunlit courtroom, there is a respectful silence. An ordinary person is sitting in the witness box. She has taken an oath to tell the truth. Her descriptive answers to her attorney’s questions begin to weave together a story. It is a deeply personal story that provides unique insight into her and the children of her fractured family. She tells this story to another ordinary person, me, who also happens to be the judge. We are separated by a bench, a black robe and the roles we play. But we are joined together as co-participants in the daily unfolding of the actual Rule of Law.
Her role is to honestly tell the difficult story that has led to this moment. Tomorrow, her husband will sit in the same chair and do the same. My role is to listen to them as unique individuals, determine which facts are true, and (utilizing the applicable law) make a decision that will allow them and their children to transition from one family to two single-parent families. Whew! What a daunting task this is for both of us, the storyteller and the listener.
I am pleased to host a Q&A with Andrew Trombly, ’14, who gives his insights on his clerkships with Judge Paul Barbadoro, USDC, District of NH and Judge Robert Bacharach, US Court of Appeals, 10th Circuit.
Why did you decide to apply for a clerkship?
I thought that clerking would offer a good opportunity – particularly for somebody just out of law school – to write a lot and to learn about a wide variety of areas of law. Also, I wanted to observe the judicial process from a judge’s perspective. Short of actually becoming a judge, clerking is probably the only chance a litigator will ever have to do so.
What’s it like to be a judge?
It’s my sixth week of working for Judge Dineen Riviezzo of the Kings County (Brooklyn) Supreme Court. Judge Riviezzo hears felony cases and Article 10 civil confinement cases. Also, every Friday, she’s in charge of the juvenile offender part, where she hears cases involving 14, 15, and 16-year-olds who would normally be heard in Family Court, but because they commit certain serious crimes, are heard in Supreme Court (but are often afforded youthful offender treatment).
View of Brooklyn from the Judge’s chambers
So far, I can say that being a judge requires three major qualities.
First, it requires patience. Whether it’s dealing with an attorney’s mistake, sorting out a disagreement between the parties, or waiting for a defendant to be produced or parties to show up, I’ve learned that for judges, every day is a test of patience. Continue reading
If you’re familiar with the West Wing — which, if you’re not, what are you doing with your life — you’ll know what I mean when I say that “the Supremes” are a big deal in the world of law school. As any law student will tell you, you spend a great deal of time during your three years reading, talking and learning about what the Justices of the Supreme Court have decided and why.
Last week, the students at BC Law got to skip the casebook and learn straight from one of the sources herself: Justice Elena Kagan, the newest judge appointed to the bench. Justice Kagan answered questions from law school Dean Vincent Rougeau, as well as from students in the audience, and spoke about a wide variety of topics, including the importance of legal writing and being a woman on the bench.
As a Supreme Court fangirl, I gotta tell you — it was pretty freaking cool. Check out BC Law magazine’s article on the Q&A here, and a few photos of the event below!
Editor’s Note: Nirav Bhatt is the incoming President of the Boston College Law Students Association. Much like his predecessor, Nirav embodies the very best qualities that BC Law students have to offer. As his classmate, LSA colleague, and intramural basketball teammate, I can personally attest to the ways he pushes those around him to better both themselves and the BC community as a whole. In keeping with the Drake theme of this post’s title, he is and has been Steph Curry with the shot in all conceivable situations. Without further ado or musical references, I am very pleased to present…
If You’re Reading This You Should Commit to Boston College Law School
by Nirav Bhatt, President, Boston College Law Students Association 2015-16