Allan M. Hale
Chief Justice memorial
45 Mass. App. Ct. 1127 (1998)
A special sitting of the Appeals Court was held at Boston on November 18, 1998, at which a Memorial to the late Chief Justice Allan M. Hale was presented.
Present: Chief Justice Warner; Justices Armstrong, Brown, Perretta, Kass, Jacobs, Porada, Greenberg, Laurence, Flannery, Lenk, Spina, Beck, and Rapoza; Retired Supreme Judicial Court Justice Benjamin Kaplan; and Retired Appeals Court Justices Gerald Gillerman, Kent B. Smith, and Raya S. Dreben.
Scott Harshbarger, Attorney General, addressed the court as follows:
May it please the court: As the Attorney General of Massachusetts, it is my privilege and honor to present, on behalf of the bar of this Commonwealth, a memorial and tribute to the late Chief Justice Allan M. Hale.
Allan Murray Hale was born in Plymouth on February 21, 1914, the first child of Elmer and Annie Laurie Hale; two brothers and two sisters eventually joined him. His father was a freight conductor for the New Haven & Hartford Railroad. When Allan was very young his family moved to Middleborough, where he continued to reside for almost his entire life. His interest in the law was kindled while he attended Middleborough High School; many days after school he sat in on trials at the Fourth District Court in Plymouth County.
After graduating from high school in 1932, he found work first in the packing room of the Leonard & Barrows Shoe Company in Middleborough, and later as a shipper for the Alberts Shoe Company. But, within a few years, he began to realize his ambition of becoming a lawyer. He attended Northeastern University School of Law in the evenings, continuing to work days as a clerk for the New Haven Railroad and for the Curtis Publishing Company in Cambridge.
Allan Hale graduated from Northeastern in 1939, and was admitted to the bar in 1940. But it was while he was a law student that the most important event in his life occurred — he met Barbara Moore Hunt, a native of Cataumet on Cape Cod. They were married on June 7, 1941.
By that time Allan Hale had set up his own law office on North Main Street in Middleborough, not far from the courthouse. However, the United States was soon at war, and the young lawyer joined the Coast Guard as a lieutenant in 1942, serving until 1946. After that he returned full-time to law, and before long had an active practice in both civil and criminal matters. He was elected to the town finance committee and was involved in local politics. From 1951 to 1954 he was an assistant district attorney in Plymouth County. During that time he also became an expert on municipal law, serving as town counsel for Middleborough and Lakeville for twenty years; he also acted as counsel for the towns of Bourne and Freetown, and for several regional water and school districts on Cape Cod. In 1965 he was elected vice president of the Massachusetts City Solicitors and Town Counsel Association. Previously he had served as secretary and president of the Plymouth County Bar Association.
In 1967 Governor John Volpe appointed Allan Hale a justice of the Superior Court. One of his first assignments on that court was an unusual one -- he was designated to conduct sessions at Bridgewater State Hospital for persons who had been committed there, not as sexually dangerous persons, but rather for observation. This was where I had my chance to meet Judge Hale for the first time, as a young law student in Harvard's public defender program. As Judge Hale later told the Boston Globe, "My job was to review the cases of hundreds of persons who had been held at the hospital longer than the maximum sentence for the criminal charge against them. Many of them had never been brought to trial, just sent to the hospital for 30 days and forgotten." As a result many of the inmates were released from the hospital.
Five years later Judge Hale received a monumental judicial assignment -- to get a brand new court up and running. In 1972, Governor Frank Sargent appointed him Chief Justice of the newly created Appeals Court. At first, Judge Hale had some doubts. To use his own words, "I wasn't too darn anxious to come here. I liked what I was doing. I enjoyed the experience on the Superior Court, meeting people and lawyers all over the State. I didn't want to leave, but the challenge of setting up an entirely new court was one I could not refuse." Fortunately, Governor Sargent did not have any doubts about his selection. Calling the creation of the Appeals Court "the single most significant step in judicial reform in Massachusetts this century," the Governor went on to speak of Chief Justice Hale and his five associates: "I have sought individuals who have a proven record of outstanding legal accomplishment, wisdom and good judgment. It is my belief that the men we have selected will allow this court to take its rightful place in our judicial system. It is a bench both balanced and responsive. It will, from the outset, be able to shoulder its full share of an appellate overload which for many years has been staggering."
Chief Justice Hale and his five colleagues -- David Rose, Edmund Keville, Reuben Goodman, Donald Grant, and Christopher Armstrong -- took their oaths of office in October 1972. At the time, the Appeals Court had almost nothing -- no offices, no courtroom, no supplies, no law books, and virtually no employees. The new court did have one thing, though: a backlog. That fall the Supreme Judicial Court transferred 169 pending appeals from its docket to the Appeals Court's.
But within a few short weeks the obstacles had been overcome; the Appeals Court "borrowed" a courtroom — this one — from the SJC. It set up offices on the fifteenth floor of the Suffolk County Courthouse, in what had been the jury pool. It found books, typewriters, pencils and paper. And it began on the backlog. The court's first sitting was held on November 13, 1972, almost exactly twenty-six years ago, with Chief Justice Hale chairing the three-judge panel. Chief Justice Hale also saw to it that the new court issued its first decisions before the end of the year. On December 29, 1972, the Appeals Court issued six opinions, one by each of the justices. The first of them, Commonwealth v. Neal Deschamps, was authored by Chief Justice Hale. Appropriately, it is found at volume 1, page 1, of the Massachusetts Appeals Court Reports.
The Deschamps case was the first of almost 900 decisions that Chief Justice Hale would write for the court during the next eleven and one-half years, of which 336 were signed opinions. Within a few years it became obvious that a six-judge court was inadequate to handle the rapidly expanding volume of appeals. The adoption of modern rules of civil and appellate procedure in 1974 made it easier to take an appeal; as a result, between 1974 and 1977 the Appeals Court's annual caseload more than doubled, exceeding 1000 cases for the first time. Help came in 1978 with the arrival of four more justices (including the court's first two women justices, Charlotte Anne Perretta and Raya Dreben) and the authority to use retired appellate judges on judicial recall.
Chief Justice Hale retired in February, 1984, upon reaching the mandatory retirement age of seventy. He was honored a month earlier by the Boston Bar Foundation, which conferred upon him its Distinguished Judicial Service Award. In an editorial salute to Judge Hale, Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly described him as "strict, yet universally regarded as having a true feel for justice . . . a good law man, yet possessed of compassion . . . warm, friendly and affable, yet a stickler for compliance with the rules."
Upon his retirement, he was also honored with two special gifts. One of them is on the west wall of this courtroom, the oil portrait of him by Boston artist Robert Cormier; a full-sized Polaroid copy of it was given by the Plymouth County Bar Association to the Superior Court in Brockton. At the unveiling of the portrait here in 1984, Judge Hale confessed to a rare case of nervousness, and then related how much he had enjoyed sitting for the portrait. During those sittings he discovered that the artist, Mr. Cormier, had also painted the portrait of former Superior Court Judge John V. Sullivan. Before his appointment to the bench, Judge Sullivan had been a lawyer in Middleborough, and, as Judge Hale put it, "fed me the chips from his desk" when Hale was a young lawyer.
The second retirement gift Judge Hale received was even more special -- his wife, Barbara, had arranged for two Cape Cod artisans to create a miniature of this courtroom, complete to such details as the coat racks, floor tiles, portrait and calendar.
After his retirement Judge Hale served as a recall judge with the Appeals Court for a few months, and then as a recall judge in Superior Court for several years. Much of that time he sat in Brockton, closer to his hometown. After all, as Judge Hale often described himself, he was "just a country lawyer at heart." After a long illness, he died in Wareham at the age of eighty-three on November 1, 1997.
Judge Hale enjoyed life beyond his work as a lawyer and judge. He was an avid sailor and pilot. He obtained his private pilot's license in 1955, and continued to fly well into his seventies. He was equally at home on the water, piloting his 27-foot sloop, Altair, all over Buzzards Bay and Vineyard Sound, as well as on several longer cruises. Each summer he took his law clerks sailing on what was billed as the Annual Administrative Law of the Sea Conference. The boat, I might add, was moored in Cataumet, where the Hales had a cottage; the cottage was just a few steps away from Barbara Hale's birthplace.
Above all, Judge Hale was a family man. Allan and Barbara Hale were the parents of three children, all of whom are lawyers: daughter Judith Hale Norris, and sons Douglas and Laurence Hale. And they were the delighted grandparents of six grandchildren.
It is an honor for me, as Attorney General, to be here this morning to take part in this tribute. I have had the privilege over the past many years of working with the outstanding group of jurists that have made up this court. I am extremely grateful that one of my last official duties as Attorney General is to appear before you in tribute to the work of its first Chief Justice, Allan Hale.
On behalf of the bar of the Commonwealth, Mr. Chief Justice, I respectfully move that this Memorial be spread on the records of this court.
George C. Decas, Esquire, addressed the court as follows:
May it please the court:
In 1965, after one year of practice, I was fortunate to become associated with the law office of Allan M. Hale in Middleboro, Massachusetts, next to my hometown of Wareham. Judge Hale was a sole practitioner at the time. His home was directly behind the law office.
His reputation as a skilled and effective attorney was well known and he was widely respected throughout Plymouth and Barnstable Counties and beyond. Many attorneys referred cases to him for trial.
My experience was obviously limited, but I soon realized the extraordinary width and breadth of Judge Hale's knowledge and skills. Incredibly, he had no other associates.
I remember that he worked six days a week. After dinner, he would frequently walk one block to the office for evening appointments. This was necessary, given his heavy trial practice.
It was not as well known that he represented simultaneously, as Town Counsel, at least seven towns. Today an individual lawyer would have difficulty representing one town and maintaining a full and varied practice in many other fields. He served as the Vice—President of the City Solicitors' and Town Counsel Association of Massachusetts. He was offered the presidency, but declined.
As many of you know, he was a humble man. He lived in a small town and was very much at ease in that environment. He did much for the community, but the greatest accomplishment of the Judge and his wife Barbara was the example he set for his children. Judy and the twins, Doug and Larry - all chose their father's profession.
He was an adventurer. Judge Hale was an accomplished pilot and sailor. I was neither. He graciously invited me to fly with him in his plane. I declined, and I am still embarrassed about that.
Judge Hale rarely showed any annoyance, despite his heavy schedule. Occasionally he expressed mild irritation to me when he heard gossiping in the reception room while his work was on hold, but he never reprimanded anyone. He accommodated everyone. His secretary Shirley kept her dog under the desk in the reception room for the entire day, except during lunch. A client once came into the reception room, had an allergic reaction, and left the office.
When we went for coffee at the next door donut shop, he liked to flip a coin to see who would pay. That was fine until one day he asked me to flip the coin and I bungled it. He pretended he didn't notice my lack of such basic skills. Judge Hale came from humble beginnings. His father was a conductor on the railroad. One day we both visited a client of Pilgrim ancestry in Plymouth, whose house overlooked Plymouth Rock. The client opposed the construction of the proposed wax museum. After our visit with the client, Judge Hale remarked that his father and grandfather probably wouldn't have been allowed to come through the front door of this distinguished client in prior years.
Which brings me to the little known subject of Allan Hale the preservationist. In 1956 a fuel company sought to raze the Peter H. Peirce house, built in 1814. This Middleborough mansion had a three-story oval, suspended staircase, which was modeled after the staircase of Peirce's friend, Massachusetts Governor Marcus Morton. Allan Hale and others came to the rescue and contributed the funds to save the building, which still stands. Its most prominent tenant was the Hale law office.
As a member of the Judicial Nominating Council since 1991, my Committee has interviewed hundreds of prospective judges. That experience on the Council reinforces my belief (which is no doubt shared by those gathered here today), that Judge Hale was an extraordinary jurist.
He deserves the titles he has earned: Renaissance man, family man, and distinguished jurist.
Barbara H. Hendrie, Esquire, addressed the court as follows:
Mr. Chief Justice and Associate Justices of the Appeals Court, may it please the court:
I am honored by the opportunity to speak in support of the Attorney General's motion. I speak today not only on my own behalf but also on behalf of all the other men and women who had the privilege of serving as law clerks to Chief Justice Allan M. Hale.
Evidence of Judge Hale's contributions as jurist is replete. One has only to visit a law library in the Commonwealth or to call up digitally the opinions he crafted and those that were handed down by the court he led during his tenure as Chief Justice, to "access a legacy that is visible, tactile and permanent.
But his legacy also endures within those living, breathing embodiments of his influence, his law clerks. It is among this group that Judge Hale's legacy as teacher is revealed and where one discovers a fundamental truth: that although much was taken just over a year ago, much abides.
Our clerkships took place at that moment in each of our lives — the time after the law school classroom and before the actual practice of the law -- when lessons, if not already learned had better be. The time is so embedded in our collective memory that when its lessons are recalled they have the powerful ability to recharge the mind and to stir vivid memories of the man who was our teacher.
My mind is recharged today by lessons that still resonate:
"Say what you mean and mean what you say."
"Strive for clarity and precision in your use of language."
"Substance is a most powerful style."
"Do your hard thinking before you set pen to paper or otherwise give flight to words."
These particular lessons reveal much more than Judge Hale's preference for simplicity and the straightforward approach. We were taught far more than economy, however invaluable that lesson undoubtedly is. Rather, like a mirror held, these lessons reflect back to us Judge Hale's own clear and disinterested thinking, focusing our minds upon the essential message embodied in his style: that if thought cannot be simply expressed, it is perhaps too weak and should be rejected.
Another lesson we clerks learned was drawn directly from Judge Hale s affection for his earlier work on the Trial Court. He taught us: always start with the facts. From this man who loved to move over the water and through the air as sailor and as pilot, when it came to the law he modeled the discipline of staying always grounded in the facts.
"From their contemplation springs justice."
"Remember, too, to anticipate outcomes."
"See things as they are and do things as they ought to be done."
We were taught to be assiduous in our research of the law. Judge Hale never discouraged our curiosity nor dampened our youthful energy, even as these qualities sometimes sent us rather inefficiently down meandering paths. His guidance was patient and gentle. Although he could distill rapidly and surely the most complex issue and set of facts to their essence, Judge Hale recognized that a great deal of what we would learn would occur on the journey itself, that while in the course of our looking
for one thing, we might very well find something else of greater value along the way. During the course of our clerkships, as our paths became more direct and our compasses began to point more truly north, we were developing attitudes toward problem-solving of enduring value. Judge Hale permitted us to learn through experience that the credulous do not bother to discover error and that doubters sometimes do not look upon the truth carefully enough to perceive its existence.
While he supported us in our work, he also supported us personally. One example is as clear in my mind's eye today as it was twenty years ago. Judge Hale had a tradition of calling his clerks individually into his office just before the results of the bar exam were announced to reassure us that we would still be gainfully employed even if we did not pass on the first try. In our Icarus-like quests toward the professional ranks, he wanted us to know that, unlike the unfortunate character, he would be there to catch us if we were to fall.
So much of what we learned was possible because Judge Hale let his life shine through his interactions with us. There were no more welcome words in his law clerk's day than "the Chief wants to see you." Woven into our conversations with him about the facts, the precedents, the arguments, were lessons that sustain much more than just the professional life. We experienced that it is possible to be both tough-minded and warm-hearted. We witnessed a commitment to work and family that ran deep. Conversations with Judge Hale were frequently filled with proud references to his sons. His daughter, whom I will meet for the first time today, was so affectionately described that she became a role model for me in absentia.
What I have intended to convey is the wholeness of the man and the breadth of his influence. Within Judge Hale resided an abundance of both knowledge and goodness. His heart was as big as his mind. As a teacher he has affected eternity for it is beyond our ken to determine where his influence will, if ever, end.
It has been an honor to dwell in memory today. As one of the many who had the privilege of learning firsthand the lessons he taught, I want to express my gratitude by supporting the Attorney General's motion.
Justice Christopher J. Armstrong, speaking for the court, responded as follows:
Chief Justice Wilkins; former Chief Justice Hennessey; Chief Justice Mulligan of the Superior Court and Chief Justice Tierney of the Boston Municipal Court; former Chief Justice Mason; Mr. Attorney General; Mr. Decas; Ms. Hendrie; Chief Justice Hale's children, Ms. Judy Norris, Mr. Douglas Hale, Mr. Lawrence Hale, and all of his extended family; friends and colleagues of Chief Justice Hale at the bar and on the bench; members of the Appeals Court family, twenty-four of whose members still in service worked under Chief Justice Hale; Chief Justice Warner and my colleagues, on the bench and in the well, who have collectively accorded me the honor of delivering the court's response to the motion of the Attorney General.
In his excellent and gracious biographical sketch of Chief Justice Hale, the Attorney General quoted the Chief Justice as having said, "I wasn't too darn anxious to come here. I enjoyed what I was doing. I enjoyed being a Superior Court judge." Apart from noting that the quote sounds slightly sanitized - Chief Justice Hale was not one to shrink from so mild an epithet as, "Damn" - I would say that the ambivalence expressed was understandable. The Chief Justice had been a trial lawyer of the first rank for years before he assumed the bench. The Superior Court was the world he was thoroughly familiar with, in which he felt totally comfortable and professionally fulfilled. Had he acted on the impulse to say no to Governor Sargent's call to greater service, he would be remembered today as one of the great Trial Court's exceptional justices - thoroughly versed in the law, hard-working, a careful craftsman, intensely practical,always respectful of lawyers, with whom he always felt the brotherhood of shared experience, and with a driving passion for making the law serve as the instrument of justice. This would have been a worthy legacy, but one that would fade over time as fewer and fewer could recall the professionally edifying experience of working with him in the courtroom.
Instead, Allan Hale answered Governor Sargent's call gave up the life that to him was the fulfillment of a dream, and took on the arduous burden of leading and building a new institution. In choosing that course, he cemented his name indelibly in the front rank of great judges in the long judicial history of this Commonwealth.
For the Governor, ably assisted by his then chief legal counsel, now United States District Court Justice William Young, Judge Hale was an inspired choice, one that, as I remarked before on the occasion of Judge David Rose's memorial service, gave the new Appeals Court instant credibility amongst the bar. Chief Justice Hale was a judge's judge and lawyer's lawyer, enjoying the professional respect and affection of all who had practiced with him or before him. He had brought to the bench a wealth of experience from as varied and diverse a background as one man could possibly have.
The first time I saw Allan Hale was in the courtroom. I was an Assistant Attorney General. I forget now which of my assigned agencies the case involved. It probably involved administrative law with a dose of equitable remedies. I had heard that Judge Hale was a "good book man," as we use to say, which we always liked because we were usually pressing technical points vigorously, and that he listened to the arguments, which meant that he was never arbitrary or peremptory. As I argued and responded to his questions and fielded his inquiries whether I had thought of this or that, I remember that an uneasy feeling came over me that Judge Hale understood my case better than I did - a reaction that I would see replicated many limes m later years, as I watched him in the courtroom. When I left court that day, I was satisfied that his decision was absolutely right. Indeed, I reflected that it was the most professionally satisfying, instructive, pleasurable drubbing of my short career "in the pit." The next time I appeared before Judge Hale, I was more successful, but left with exactly the same feeling: that I had received an education, that the judge thoroughly understood the case, and that his decision was wise. I was not to see Allan Hale again until Governor Sargent told me that he was to head the new court that the Governor was asking me to join. Had I been ambivalent about saying yes, which I was not, the selection of Allan Hale as Chief Justice, the chance to work with him, would have tipped the scale.
It's pretty easy to find out if a lawyer is a "good" lawyer or if a judge is a "good" judge. It's the very deuce of a job for a Governor to predict who in the bar or on the bench will make a good administrator. Fortunately for the new Appeals Court, its first Chief Justice turned out to be a great administrator. In those difficult days before we had offices, before we had a courtroom of our own, he managed to communicate to everyone who worked for the court the exciting sense that we were making history, that we were all in this together, that we were a team. Everyone felt he or she had a proprietary interest in the success of the court. From those early days, the phrase came to be used, "the Appeals Court family;" and, among the bar, the Appeals Court soon came to be known for its extraordinary collegiality. Allan's warmth fostered the sense of family.
One snapshot: Paula Snyder, who had worked as a secretary under Judge Reuben Goodman in his days heading the voluntary defenders, was encouraged by Reuben to apply for the position of private secretary to the Chief Justice. Paula was reticent. In her words: "Five years of typing losing appellate briefs for the defenders had given me a vehement, albeit juvenile disdain for all judges. So it was with a negative, bordering on hostile, attitude that I showed up for an interview in Courtroom 915, where Judge Hale was presiding over a murder case.
"As I took a seat in the back, I saw the court officer pass a note up to the judge, and the next thing I knew, Judge Hale interrupted the witness, stood up, walked to the end of the bench and motioned to me to come forward to speak with him. He asked me whether it would be okay if the witness finished his testimony before our interview. I felt ten feet tall as I sat back down, this time in the first row, where Judge Hale had suggested I would be 'closer to the action.' The interview turned out to be a warm conversation during which Judge Hale said if Reuben Goodman was satisfied with my skills that was good enough for him and did I have any questions for him." "I don't have to tell you," recalls Paula, "what kind of a first impression Judge Hale made on me."
The sense of team that Allan Hale fostered carried the new court through a myriad of challenges, for we had, as the Attorney General remarked, no place to sit, no paper to write on, no books of our own, no telephones, no budget, no payroll - nothing but a donated backlog and a steady stream of lawyers among at the courthouse wondering where to file their appeals and briefs and motions. On the plus side, we had, through Allan s intercession and that of Judge David Rose, the constant help of Chief Justice Walter McLaughlin of the Superior Court and Social Law Librarian Edgar Bellefontaine, who kept the body and soul of the court together in that first year before we had a place to go.
Allan fostered the sense of teamwork in many ways. One was that he gave each of his judges the sense that his and later her voice was as important as any other in the running of the court. Judge Raya Dreben, who came on the court in the expansion draft of 1978, recalls how, in a moment of frustration at not being able to win support for a position, she said to Allan, "You'd pay more attention to me if I were Judge Grant." Allan's reply was, If that is the case, I shouldn't be Chief Justice." Raya recalls being very moved. Allan was protective of his judges. Raya recalls one appeal on which she sat with Allan, the dispute being that of a divorced couple, arguing about whether their deceased child should be buried or cremated. Raya expressed dismay that the couple had dragged such a disagreement into court for decision and was met by criticism from one of the counsel that her remark was out of order. Allan rose instantly to the support of Raya's thought and her correctness in voicing it, at the same time moving the discussion smoothly onto a new subject. Again, Raya was moved by his defense. Allan gave the court a sense of solidarity.
At every level of the court we were captured by his warmth and inclusiveness. Nancy Sinagra recalls one day playing for the court's softball learn - "Hale's Angels" - on the Boston Common. Judge Hale was in the stands, rooting the team on, dressed m his Hale's Angels T-shirt. At the end of the game, he asked Nancy and Cathy MacInnes if they were interested in getting something to eat. They said yes and proceeded to pour out the remainder of their beers. Nancy recalls that the Chief admonished them not "to waste good beer, take it with you." And he took them to Jimbo's in South Boston where he ate wearing his Hale's Angels T-shirt under his suit jacket. I well remember the court's tenth anniversary dinner in 1982, which somehow took on the character of an awards ceremony for our then championship softball team. Dan Thurler, the team's captain, recalls that after this championship season, the Chief commended them in a salty and politically incorrect memo of August, 1982, which Dan assures has been carefully archived.
There was nothing pretentious or precious about Chief Justice Hale. It was not in his nature to stand on ceremony, and in speech and manner he was direct, salty, and notably down to earth. His days in the Coast Guard in World War II colored his memos. Once, in response to a report that showed a bulge in the court's backlog of unheard cases, he circulated the report with this memo: "Read the attached and weep. All leaves are canceled. Man the battle stations." He referred to himself, Polly Stevens recalls, as a "swamp Yankee," as if to emphasize that his accomplishments had nothing to do with pedigree or lineage. At the same time he was viscerally attuned to the sensitivities of others and would go out of his way to put people at ease by his quick wit and charm. Dan Thurler recalls a wedding of two members of the Appeals Court staff. Upon being introduced to the Chief Justice in the receiving line, the groom's mother inquired loudly whether her son was finally learning to spell during his career at the court. As Dan recalls: "The groom immediately began a careful examination of his shoes, but Judge Hale never missed a beat and launched into a fanciful testament to his employee's ability in this area. The groom's mother later remarked that to her the news had been the highlight of the occasion." Judge Hale's sensitivity is seen also in Dan Thurler's story of his very first memo to the chief as one of his law clerks. The case, Dan recalls, was a routine search and seizure case that was, Dan realized later, an open and shut case. Dan was eager to make a good impression and wrote a twenty-page memo. "When I met with him the next day," Dan recalls, "he could have lectured me on the value of his time and mine, the need for critical thinking, and the infliction of unnecessary wear and tear on the typist. Instead, he characteristically chose to put things in a positive light, sensing that encouragement might be more effective at that early juncture. Handing me a copy of a decision he had drafted, he explained that my memo had so convincingly addressed each issue that he had only needed to write a one paragraph rescript."
Judge Rudolph Kass, who came to the court with Judges Charlotte Perretta, John Greaney, and Raya Dreben in the 1978 explosion, recalls that the Chief was unobnoxiously proud of his Judges and at the same time, in Judge Kass's words "was also pungently irreverent about them. When I showed 'up for work in 1979,' recalls, "I was on crutches in consequence of a minor skiing injury. Allan pumped my hand, took a long look at me, and said, Damn, I've already got one judge who's lame and another who's blind. I felt instantly at ease." The same earthy manner is illustrated in a myriad of stories from Appeals Court staffers invited out for a sail on Judge Hale's twenty-seven foot Pearson sloop, the Altair. He was himself an accomplished sailor, but he made sure that each person manned the tiller, and he would patiently give a sailing lesson. He allowed plenty of leeway to make mistakes, and stayed utterly unruffled though the sloop went around in circles and jibed at the wrong times. Dan Thurler recalls an afternoon on the boat with Alex MacNeil and Judge Hale's then law clerks. Dessert was a big bowl of fresh cherries, and the Chief was regaling his guests with war stones - this one from his Coast Guard days. The crew had recovered a human body from the depths along with several lobsters. The Chief got not much further in his narrative when he stopped abruptly. In Dan's words, "Everything on the boat had suddenly turned red. The deck was red, we were red. A sudden and soundless calamity worthy of Stephen King had overtaken us. But Judge Hale was calm, recognizing that one of us had simply become ill. As we passed around paper towels, he set everyone at ease by remarking that the story would have gone better with white grapes." The sheer ubiquity of his experience dazzled. I remember griping once about my difficulties dealing with the coal stove in our kitchen. Allan knew the problems well, having tended the station house coal stove when he worked on the railroad. Once he forgot to open the plates and close the vent and nearly burned the station down.
I have dwelt for a reason on these stories, to try to capture, however inadequately, what it was like to have worked with Chief Justice Hale. I do so because, as I look back on the early days of the Appeals Court, it was the very force of Chief Justice Hale's personality that, more than any other factor was responsible for taking the diverse elements and backgrounds and resources he was given and hammering them together into a cohesive and harmonious whole. There are all kinds of objective reasons the new Appeals Court should have foundered at the outset. That it did not is a testament to what Judge Em Keville describes as "Allan's superb accomplishment in forging an effective appellate court almost overnight with a relatively minor assist from five eager, willing but untried colleagues." Judge Keville recalls that "Allan never lost his sense of cool or sense of humor or his patience in the face of obstacles that would have floored a lesser man." In the words of his successor, our second Chief Justice, John Greaney, "Allan passed to me a court that was intellectually robust and a court which had established itself as one of the leading State appellate courts in the country."
There was much more to Allan Hale than can possibly be recounted in our remarks today. He was a teacher without peer, as his law clerks and certainly his junior justice well knew. In his teaching there was never a disconnect between the applied law and the abstract principle learned in school - it was all a cohesive and harmonious whole, and, as woven together by Allan, it all made perfect practical sense. His written opinions were of the most satisfying type. They were direct in approach, straightforward in expression, practical in result, and satisfying to the reader's sense of justice. In his view, if a thought could not be explained in simple terms, there was probably something wrong with it. As Barbara Hendrie said, his opinions were totally grounded in the facts. That understates the case. I have not met a judge, before or since, who could read a transcript with such laser focus. In his reading, the trial came to life. He could tell us novices exactly what the lawyers were thinking and why they said what they said. A statement that looked idle to us was purposeful to him, because he brought to the transcript a wealth of varied experiences not matched by any other of our judges. Everyone who worked with him learned to respect his quick and sure instinct for the nub of a case. He usually knew the answer before some of us knew the question. Still, he was always open to our divergent voices, and the same sure instinct for the right answer suggested to him different ways of reaching the right answer. That is to say, his leadership was one of consensus. To him separate and dissenting opinions represented an institutional failure. As Barbara Hendrie recalled in thinking back over her time with him, "If not all the judges were of one mind, often his leadership could bring them around, but he would never stay fixed on a position simply because he had invested time and effort in that direction. Instead, he would say, 'Let's look at this from another angle.' " Where principle was at stake, however, he could be unbending. Paula Snyder recalls that, after the bomb exploded in the Suffolk courthouse in 1976, the courthouse was closed the next day; but Allan, determined that the Appeals Court show a presence, called Paula and told her he was coming in and she must also, even if only to read comic books. "We are not going to give in to those hoodlums." Amid an army of detectives and bomb-sniffing dogs, Chief Justice Hale's office was, so far as Paula recalls, the only open office in the building.
Allan was always practical, always ready, as Henry Weaver recalls, to experiment with new ways of doing things. He never mourned the passing of old and obsolete customs. He rejoiced when the Industrial Accident Board switched from long paper, rolled up and tied with a ribbon, to standard size, flat paper. He used to recall working with several such older records at once, all unrolled and held down by elbows, hands, books, anything he could find. Then one would let go, rolling up with the force of a tightly coiled spring, sometimes knocking over his coffee or even coiling up his necktie. He used to laugh, Alex McNeil recalls, about the years after the introduction of photo copy machines, when he would have to wait for a certified copy of a deed while an assistant register meticulously checked the wording of the copy against the original.
Allan Hale was very much a man of his times, but he kept one foot firmly planted in the tradition of times passed. This was the "country lawyer" side of Allan, of which the Attorney General remarked. In his every action he reflected the older tradition of the bar as a noble fraternity of men and women who took on their shoulders the problems of those who needed help, who had been wronged, who yearned for justice. The "country lawyer" of whom Allan spoke refused to devote his talents and his life to making money for moneyed interests; and if a young person had no reason to choose law as a career but to make money, Allan would advise him or her to find another line of work. To him the profession meant a commitment to a code of honor and of professional courtesy, of fidelity to one's duty as an officer of the court simultaneously with his duty to his client; and being a country lawyer meant a career devoted to many different clients in all stations of life. Of country lawyers, Jerold Auerbach quotes one prominent attorney advising a graduating law school class to seek employment in a country lawyer's office, saying, "You will learn more there in a year than you will learn in five years in a city office;' and a New York judge, to the effect that the country lawyer "is as far superior to the average modern lawyer as the self-sufficient pioneer is above the dweller in the city."1 The country lawyer was the model Alex de Tocqueville had in mind in Democracy in America when he wrote, "If I were asked where I place the America aristocracy, I should reply without hesitation... that it occupies the judicial bench and the bar." To Chief Justice Hale there was no higher calling than the law, and nothing could have made him happier than the decisions of his three children in turn to enter the profession.
Judge Kass sums Allan up well. "He had a robust physical presence and robust voice that enabled him to command easily a meeting or a courtroom. There was nothing overbearing about this. Quite the opposite. Command in his case was simply a gift of nature." Chief Justice Hale bore out Governor Sargent's shrewd judgment. He proved to be just the right man, at the right time, for a big job.
When Chief Justice Hale retired from active service in 1984, his colleagues on this court, his law clerks, and his local bar association - the Plymouth County Bar - commissioned the portrait of him that you see at the side of the courtroom. We were all gratified at the result. The artist, Robert Cormier, seemed to those of us who worked with Allan to have captured in one image something of his warmth, his strength, his intelligence, his wisdom, his understanding, his practicality, his love of life, even his sense of humor. We who worked with Chief Justice Hale will move on in time and others will take our places and in time others theirs, and nothing will then be remembered of Allan Hale's legacy but his opinions, which will always speak for themselves, the Cormier portrait, and in the back of a volume of our reports, the remarks this day. One hopes that some young lawyer of that time, looking for a role model to emulate in his or her career, may take the time to read these proceedings and look at the portrait and see in them the character of the man and his unique contribution to our time. And the young lawyer will know that, to Allan Hale's own generation, his life evoked the words Antony spoke of the fallen Brutus - that, in him, the elements so mixed that Nature might stand up and say to all the world, "This was a man."
On behalf of the Chief Justice and the Justices of the Appeals Court, it is my privilege to allow the motion of the Attorney General and order that the proceedings this day be spread upon the records of the court.
1Auerbach, Unequal Justice at 31 (Oxford 1976).