“The Best Seat in the Courthouse”

Transcripts available in the following languages:

When I was a first year law student, there was a very famous case that was being trialed in the U.S. District Court in Boston- the old Scollay Square Court House. And a group of us decided to go watch the trial, so we took a few days off and took the subway over to Scollay Square and sat in the trial. It only lasted 3 to 4 days. In those days, trials were shorter, but it was a libel case where the Senator from Maine, Owen Brewster, sued the Boston Herald Traveler for libel because they had accused him of taking a bribe or something like that.

So the case trialed to the jury and there was a famous lawyer that defended- they were all big time lawyers- but a famous lawyer defended the Boston Traveler- a fellow named James St. Clair because he later became…what 15 years later… 20 years later… 72… 10 years later... he later became President Nixon’s impeachment lawyer.

Anyway, we went to watch that trial, and it was evident to me that the best seat in the court house was the one right up there where the judge was sitting- little guy named Charles Wyzanski, very good judge, had a stellar reputation. And the judge was asking…there was no doubt that he controlled that courtroom, he controlled that trial, he moved it along. He was very impressive. So I said to myself, I thought, “Boy, that’s the job I want.”

So, I was in law school, I was a first year student, and I said that and I thought that, but you know, dwell on that… But anyway, that’s the first time I decided, “Boy, it would be nice to be a federal judge.” 

Date: July 2, 2014
Location: California, US
Interviewer: Sakura Kato
Contributed by: Watase Media Arts Center, Japanese American National Museum; Japanese American Bar Association

Boston District Court Harvard James St. Clair Law School Scollay Square Wyzanski

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