Monday, January 23, 2017

Frankfurter Speaks! So Does (Paul) Freund!!

Et Seq., the blog of the Harvard Law School Library, reports that HLS’s Historical & Special Collections department is in the process of digitizing some of its “thousands of audiovisual artifacts.”  Available now is “A Lawyer’s Place in Our Society," wherein Justice Felix Frankfurter (1882-1965) is interviewed by Prof. Paul A. Freund (1908-1992), recorded on 16mm film in the early 1960s and transferred later to u-matic tape, the copy from which the digital transfer was made.”
Justice Felix Frankfurter (LC)
The two were close friends, and it’s evidenced by their comfortable and well-articulated conversation. Justice Frankfurter’s thoughts often circle back to some common themes. He believes very much that the lawyer should also be a civic leader, attributing this requirement to the changing nature of the law: as law and government historically expands into affecting everyday lives, the lawyer increasingly needs to be an active citizen. Both Freund and Frankfurter share the opinion that great lawyers shall be exceptionally well-read (because “even with the greatest breadth of personal experience, it’s infinitesimal compared with the accumulated experience of mankind, and the accumulated experience of mankind is predominantly contained in the covers of books,” [25:00]) and involved in many activities outside of the field of law.

In addition to unsurprising homages to Louis D. Brandeis (1856-1941) and Oliver Wendell Holmes (1841-1935), Frankfurter goes on at length about the influence that his early mentor, Henry L. Stimson, had on him. Through his work with the then-U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, he learned, “first and foremost, a sense of the deep responsibilities of all those who are concerned with the administration of the criminal law – the awfulness of the instruments by which men may lose their liberties and sometimes lose their lives as the result of a process of law” (28:00). Stimson would have preferred for search warrants to only be issued by a judicial officer, but absent that reality, he had his assistants accompany officers enforcing large search and seizure operations to ensure that they adhered strictly to the warrant and seized only the property that was explicitly described.

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