Paul Cashman Reardon
Associate Justice memorial
405 Mass. 1703 (1989)
A special sitting of the Supreme Judicial Court was held at Boston on September 7, 1989, at which a Memorial to the late Justice Paul Cashman Reardon was presented.
Present: Chief Justice Liacos; Justices Wilkins, Abrams, Nolan, Lynch, and O'Connor; retired Chief Justice Edward F. Hennessey; and Chief Justice John M. Greaney, of the Appeals Court.
James M. Shannon, 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 Paul Cashman Reardon.
Justice Reardon served with distinction as an Associate Justice of this court for fifteen years. Impressive as that term of service was, it constitutes only a portion of Justice Reardon's enormous contribution to the improvement of justice in the United States of America. His mark can be found on virtually every important improvement of justice in the second half of this century. It is especially appropriate that his remarkable career be stated for the records of this court.
Justice Reardon was born in Quincy, on December 23, 1909. He was the son of Dr. Daniel B. Reardon and Mary Cashman Reardon. In June, 1914, when Paul was less than five years of age, his father joined the First Harvard Medical Unit and served with the British Expeditionary Force in France for over a year. Then, in 1918, after the United States entered the war, Dr. Reardon returned to France as a Captain in the Medical Corps. Thus even before Justice Reardon began his formal education at St. John's Parochial School in Quincy, he had learned the lesson of service to others.
Later at Quincy High School, he distinguished himself as the premier debater on the Quincy team, starred in a number of class plays, and earned acclaim for other speaking engagements. While Justice Reardon moved from Quincy to Hingham many years later, he never lost his love for the "City of Presidents."
While he went on to develop strong friendships with distinguished jurists on the national and later the international level, he never forgot his Quincy boyhood friends. He was frequently asked and always found time to prepare a few thoughtful and humorous words to honor his long-time Quincy friends and acquaintances at numerous civic functions. Justice Reardon participated actively in class reunions of both St. John's Parochial School and Quincy High School. Of all the honors he was later to receive, he was most profoundly touched by the hanging of his photograph in Quincy High School as part of the activities surrounding the sixtieth reunion of his Quincy High School class.
After an additional year at Phillips Academy in Andover to sharpen up his Latin, Justice Reardon entered Harvard College and received his Bachelor's Degree, cum laude, in 1932. The Justice continued to serve Harvard in many capacities following graduation. He became President of the Harvard Alumni Association. Justice Reardon was also elected an Overseer, chaired the Overseers' Executive Committee, and was Vice Chairman of the Visiting Committee to the Harvard Law School. He also remained active as an advisor to the glee club and the debating society.
As a graduating senior at Harvard, Justice Reardon was named class orator. In his final undergraduate oration, he took his theme from the inscription on the Dexter Gate in Harvard Yard: "Depart to serve better thy country and thy kind." Justice Reardon told his classmates that we "are indebted to our respective communities in proportion to what we are able to give." Justice Reardon's later life testifies to a generous overpayment of his debt to his community and to his country.
Following his graduation from Harvard Law School and passing the bar in 1935, Justice Reardon went to work for a trial firm, Badger, Pratt, Doyle and Badger. During the next four years, the Justice averaged something over one hundred days in court during each year. He was described as being "very persuasive before a jury and a good cross-examiner, never unfair or browbeating, but able to show up a witness who was lying."
After four years, Justice Reardon started his own law practice with offices in Quincy and Boston. He found the practice of law during these Depression years both engrossing and thrilling, "the thrills," he said, "deriving from the recurrent attempts to meet the overhead."
Justice Reardon married Ann Leich in 1939. It was the beginning of a long and dedicated relationship. Family trips, bicycling, campfires, and singing at Boot Pond in Plymouth with their four children reflected the deep love shared by this family.
During World War II, Justice Reardon served as a Lieutenant in the Navy.
After the war, he joined the Boston law firm of Haussermann, Davison and Shattuck, becoming a partner in 1948, and managing partner in 1951. As a result of his legislative efforts as General Counsel of the Boston Chamber of Commerce, Justice Reardon gained the eye and respect of Edmund V. Keville, then the Governor's Chief Secretary.
This led to Justice Reardon's appointment as Counsel to Governor Christian A. Herter in 1953. He immediately impressed State House observers with his enthusiasm, intelligence, and good humor in handling the long hours and difficult tasks entrusted to the Counsel to the Governor. Justice Reardon also quickly gained a reputation for having "an intense singleness of purpose in battling for Herter sponsored legislation."
One of Governor Herter's most important, achievements was the establishment of the Judicial Survey Commission to study and recommend improvements in the Massachusetts judicial system. As Counsel to the Governor, Justice Reardon had a significant influence on the organization and direction of the Judicial Survey Commission. In 1955, before the Commission had finished its impressive work, Chief Justice Higgins of the Superior Court died. Governor Herter immediately named Justice Reardon as Chief Justice of the Superior Court. He was the eighth Chief Justice of that court since its establishment in 1859, and only the second Chief Justice who had not been elevated from the Superior Court bench. In addition, the new Chief Justice, then forty-five, was six years younger than the youngest of the other thirty-two judges then sitting in the Superior Court.
The court Justice Reardon headed was understaffed, underpaid, and technically unsupported. The Superior Court was clogged with civil cases, creating the longest judicial backlog in the United States.
The new Chief Justice first elicited the active support of the senior judges on the Superior Court by demonstrating from the outset a characteristic respect for their accumulated wisdom and experience. Very soon, the Court enjoyed a newly found esprit de corps. Any early grumbling by the judges about the appointment of this young outsider changed very quickly to respect.
The young Chief Justice also turned to chief justices of other trial courts to find out what they were doing to relieve congested court dockets. Surprisingly, until then, there had been simply no communication between State court systems. Thereafter, Justice Reardon and other heads of State trial courts began exchanging information on an informal basis. In 1957, Justice Reardon was one of the ten pioneers from around the country who founded the National Conference of State Trial Judges. He became its second president. Its membership now numbers in the thousands.
Chief Justice Reardon swiftly instituted a number of reforms, including drastic restrictions on the grant of continuances, and the use of auditors in certain cases to expedite the hearing of civil cases.
Certain elements of the trial bar registered strong opposition to these attempts to reduce the backlog of pending cases. As was his way, the Chief Justice met this opposition head on. He sat in assignment sessions in each county where, in often spirited exchanges with members of the bar, he explained the imperative need for change. He criss-crossed the Commonwealth, speaking to Bar Associations in an effort to solicit support for the newly instituted reforms.
Justice Reardon could soon announce with pride that the Superior Court of Massachusetts no longer had the worst backlog of any trial court in the country. In just two years, the time from entry of a case to trial was reduced to eighteen months or less in all counties, one of the best records in the United States.
Governor John Volpe appointed Justice Reardon as an Associate Justice of this court in November, 1962. His appointment met with unanimous editorial approval. One daily newspaper reported:
"Governor Volpe's appointment of Paul Cashman Reardon to the Supreme Judicial Court will give all Massachusetts a lift of morale.
Judge Reardon's service as Chief Justice of the Superior Court has been one of the most brilliant in the long history of brilliant Chief Justices. He is a jurist possessed of the judicial temperament to the highest degree, jealously protective of the good name of the courts of Massachusetts, a stern adherent of the right and the good and the lawful."
Chief Justice Raymond S. Wilkins of the Supreme Judicial Court, a man with a well deserved reputation for not suffering fools gladly, wrote to Governor Volpe after Justice Reardon's appointment:
"Dear Governor: This is a weekend letter to repeat what I said to you the other day. The members of the Supreme Judicial Court are all deeply grateful to you for giving them a new associate of the caliber of Paul Reardon. This appointment will redound to your credit for many years with those people everywhere who are best qualified to appreciate it."
During his fifteen years on this court, Justice Reardon wrote 610 opinions, an average of over forty opinions a year. He once commented that those who subsequently analyzed his contribution to this court might not label it as "progressive" in decisions dealing with common and criminal law issues. However, the Justice's majority opinion in the 1971 case upholding the constitutionality of the State's no-fault motor vehicle insurance law 1 and the 1973 opinion upholding the State's racial imbalance law 2 reflected a more innovative spirit. His opinions in the famous fish chowder and the golf course cases reveal his penchant for introducing a little humor in what he described as the "monastic" atmosphere of the Supreme Judicial Court.
While serving on this court in 1964, at the invitation of Mr. Justice Lewis Powell, then President of the American Bar Association, Justice Reardon agreed to chair the Advisory Committee on fair trial and free press. The Committee issued its recommendations in October, 1966. The 265 page report, entitled "Standards Relating to Fair Trial and Free Press" recommended rules for lawyers, courts and law enforcement officials to follow in preventing news stories from prejudicing juries in criminal cases.
The national press responded with a chorus of editorial condemnation as soon as the report was released. Justice Reardon responded to this barrage of criticism in much the same manner as he had earlier on a State level when his Superior Court reforms were resisted. He criss-crossed the United States, speaking before press and bar groups, preaching the need to prevent prejudicial publicity. He used all of his persuasive powers, including his considerable wit and charm, to defuse the somewhat hysterical reaction of the press. As he said later, although much of the criticism was aimed at him personally, "it didn't bother me because I wasn't running for anything."
The battle was fully joined in Chicago in 1968, before the House of Delegates of the American Bar Association. After considerable debate, the House of Delegates voted to accept the report which thereafter became known as "The Reardon Report."
By 1973, Justice Reardon could report that his Committee's suggestions had been included in some form in codes of ethics and conduct for lawyers and judges in all fifty States.
The crowning achievement of Justice Reardon's career in judicial reform must be his role in establishing the National Center for State Courts. Former Chief Justice Burger of the United States Supreme Court has stated that "the National Center for State Courts . . . is one of the most important developments in the administration of justice in this century. . . ." The Center emerged from the largest judicial conference in United States history held at Williamsburg in 1971. The priority item on the agenda of the conference was a creation of a national center to stimulate and guide the movement to improve State courts. At the close of that conference, Justice Reardon was elected its first president and director. Justice Reardon was one of six incorporators, and remained on its Board of Directors until 1977. In his annual report to the judiciary in 1974, Chief Justice Burger stated that "the profession owes a deep debt to Justice Paul C. Reardon of the Supreme Judicial Court" for his role in establishing the National Center for State Courts.
Even before this acclaim, Justice Reardon had been honored in 1972 with the "award of merit" by the North American Judges' Association. This award had previously gone to only three men, Earl Warren, Tom C. Clark and Warren E. Burger, all members of the Supreme Court of the United States. In 1975, he received a special ABA award for "effective work in aid of judicial process." Robert W. Meserve of the Bar of this Commonwealth, and a former President of the American Bar Association, said that the award was unique and made to no one else because of Justice Reardon's "exceptional efforts to improve the administration of justice throughout this country."
Justice Reardon's increasing involvement in the work of the center for State Courts led to his decision to retire early from this court at the end of 1976. At that time, he was chairman of the Center's Building Committee, and wanted to devote more time to getting the Center built on land made available in Williamsburg by the Commonwealth of Virginia. Justice and Mrs. Reardon went to Williamsburg for almost six months in 1978 where he served as a visiting professor at the law school there. During the 1980's, Justice Reardon continued to be active in the Center's activities.
Justice Reardon's legacy lives on in the Center's annual award named the "Paul C. Reardon Award." This year's recipient recently said of Justice Reardon:
"This award is part of the living legacy of Paul C. Reardon. The legacy is a chance to carry forward, in the same gracious, elegant, patient, foreseeing way, the work Justice Reardon set in progress . . . He was a reformer, rather than a revolutionary, engineering practical solutions to intractable problems in law and in its administration . . . I thank the National Center for State Courts for establishing this award, a vehicle for passing on Paul Reardon's life and message and for inspiring other judges to travel further on the path which he began to cut through the wilderness." Some years ago, Justice Reardon noted that: "[F]or a good number of years now I have worked with judges and judicial groups throughout this country and abroad. In those years I have often been impressed that judicial figures, nationally known among their fellows for considerable contributions to the American judiciary and hence the people, are often not fully recognized in their own jurisdictions for what they are and what they have done."
Today it is appropriate for us as members of the legal community in Massachusetts to recognize and appreciate Justice Reardon's enormous contribution to judicial administration. It is time for Justice Reardon to take his rightful place at the forefront of State court jurists who have made the greatest contributions to the improvement of justice in this country. I am honored to participate in this Memorial to attest to Justice Reardon's unique role in the history of the administration of justice in this Commonwealth, and in the United States.
On behalf of the bar of the Commonwealth, I respectfully move that this Memorial be spread on the records of this Court.
Edward B. Hanify, Esquire, addressed the court as follows:
May it please the court: I first met the late Justice Paul Cashman Reardon nearly sixty years ago in December 1930. The occasion was an intercollegiate debate between Harvard and Holy Cross colleges. During the ensuing decades, from the vantage point of a friendship and respect generated by that first meeting, I observed his career as he moved through the successive positions of honor and responsibility recorded today in the Court he served and cherished. I would add to this Memorial the impression I retain of the man in the judicial robe.
A phrase from an Ode of the Latin poet Horace comes to mind when I think of Mr. Justice Reardon.
Horace is describing a valiant man. In the usual translation, the words "Integer Vitae" mean "Of Upright Life." However, that Latin word "Integer" is the matrix of many of our English words and phrases: "Integrity," "Integral" "Integer," "Integrate," "Integration." Hence, the Latin poet's phrase may well suggest a broader meaning: a wholeness of life which is not fractionated, which is moulded by certain unifying influences, and which represents a happy blending of distinctive characteristics. Paul Reardon's life was not only upright and of unblemished integrity; his life had the unified quality of high aspirations and worthy deeds inspired by a fusion of noble influences.
One such marked influence was his lifelong and profound study of the concept of ordered Liberty under Law in our juris- prudence, and the role of an independent judiciary in its preservation. To this high standard and its practical realization he devoted years of study and reflection. To him it represented an adventure of the human spirit which never lost its drama and inspiration. To lay audiences, to college students, to members of his own and other professions, he could and did present in dramatic vignettes the centuries-old struggle for this ideal. He unfolded scene after scene in the struggle for Justice: The Magna Charta, Chief Justice Coke confronting the English King in an historic assertion of judicial independence, the abolition of the Star Chamber, the enactment by Parliament of the Petition of Right, and then events of our own history, James Otis and his argument on the Writs of Assistance.
Then in Mr. Justice Reardon's lecture or address there came one scene which particularly elicited his powers of lucid and moving expression: It was the scene depicted in the Herter mural in the Massachusetts House of Representatives. John Adams is shown with Samuel Adams and James Bowdoin drafting the Massachusetts Constitution in 1780 in the old Adams house located in Justice Reardon's native Quincy, then Braintree.
In the Constitution of the Commonwealth Mr. Justice Reardon found both the formal recognition of the citizen's rights and the cognate prescription of the citizen's duties. He noted that its Preamble declared that among the purposes of the Commonwealth was the provision to its citizens of "the power of enjoying in safety and tranquility their natural rights." To Mr. Justice Reardon the explicit proclamation of the existence of "natural, essential and unalienable rights" in Article I of the Declaration of Rights of the Constitution reflected the centuries-old "immovable place of natural rights" in our jurisprudence. Doe v. Doe, 365 Mass. 556, 567 (1974) (Reardon, J., dissenting). The Constitution also emphasizes the principles of individual moral character which it specifically enumerates. The people are admonished "to have a particular attention to all those principles in the choice of their officers and representatives." Adherence to principles of "piety, justice, moderation, temperance, industry and frugality" is deemed "absolutely necessary to preserve the advantage of liberty and to maintain a free government."
In Mr. Justice Reardon's view "Age cannot wither nor custom stale" this constitutional admonition. Thus, in a turbulent era when wise restraints designed to promote moderation, civility and stability were unpopular, in a memorable Commencement Address in 1971 Mr. Justice Reardon made his theme: "The Life Time Advantages of Reasonable Discipline." 3 That Discipline he emphasized was self Discipline. The personal Moral Discipline which John Adams deemed essential to national survival, Paul Reardon believed was also a prerequisite to an integrated and happy individual life. He practiced that Discipline.
Our day is prone to adopt simplistic and facile classifications and characterizations of a public figure and his or her works -- particularly a judge. Hence, Mr. Justice Reardon would doubtless be considered a "traditionalist." There is no doubt that he valued the formalities and amenities with which institutions which have survived the ravages of time observe Academic Commencements and significant Anniversaries. I witnessed the enthusiasm with which as Chief Justice of the Superior Court he led his brethren in formal dress in public procession to the Hall of Flags for official recognition by the Governor of the Commonwealth of the Court's centennial. He was indeed saddened when a respected name was needlessly tarnished. He was also annoyed when a minor figure associated with a revered institution occasionally exploited the temporary connection for sensational personal notoriety. However, such occasional transient irritation had no enduring impact on his happy outlook on life. He sought the proverbial Serenity to accept things he could not change, the Courage to change things he could, and the Wisdom to know the difference. If he were a "traditionalist," he was also an innovator. He pioneered in the creation of balance between the great constitutional freedoms of Press and Fair Trial, and had no hesitancy in the practical application of sound theory on this subject to media conditions which the Founders of our government could scarcely envisage. He proved that when it came to wise and efficient judicial administration no State was an island. He was a powerful creative force in a new confederation wherein State judicial systems engaged in fruitful collaboration. The phrase "United States" thus received a fresh connotation when these judicial systems exchanged experience and administrative techniques and created a treasury of vital information on which each might rely for self-improvement.
In that integrated life of Mr. Justice Reardon there was a special unifying force; a joyous capacity for friendship.
The Dutch scholar Erasmus wrote of his friend, a great lawyer and judge, the Lord Chancellor of England, then Sir Thomas More:
"He seems to be born and made for friendship of which he is the sweetest and most persistent devotee . . . . If anyone requires a perfect example of true friendship, it is in More that he will best find it."
Paul Reardon was "born and made for friendship." His reunions with classmates from parochial grammar school, high school, college and law school were for him happy occasions, carefully planned and eagerly anticipated. In the local community, in official commissions, as in his favorite Clubs or Civic Associations, he radiated a quiet and genial spirit that drew people to him. When constructive cooperation was essential to progress that spirit was a cohesive force for unified action. He was not the typical extrovert, anxious to cultivate acquaintances. Rather, his was the dignity and magnetism of goodness. When one considers his influence upon our profession and among the judiciary in this country and abroad, it is as if this single Justice of a Massachusetts Court in his private capacity had a personal extraterritorial writ, compounded of wit and wisdom, and bearing the seal of friendship.
Across the seas where he had travelled in the interest of international professional amity and comity his loss was mourned. A distinguished judge in Australia, recalling his visit to that country in 1969, described him "as the most likable, popular and respected judge ever to visit Australia." The Right Honorable Lord Richard Wilberforce, a Lord of Appeal in England, noted a quality which his friends here often observed. He was "a true judicial artist" said Lord Wilberforce, and added: "He always had something to illuminate an event and to take the conversation out of the ordinary." The Right Honorable Lord Alfred Thompson Denning, for years a renowned Judge of the Court of Appeal in England, a Law Lord, and for twenty years Master of the Rolls, wrote of this late Justice of this Court: "He was great in wisdom, great in law, great in character, and great in his good influence on all around him."
The two supreme unifying forces in the life of Paul Cashman Reardon were Faith and Family.
His religious Faith was described in words no layman can approach in their insight and meaning. The Reverend Peter J. Gomes, Plummer Professor of Christian Morals at Harvard University, said of Paul Reardon that he "owned and loved the faith of the Catholic Church without which he was less than he was and with which he was all and more than we knew."
Of his family Justice Reardon wrote in his Fiftieth Anniversary Report of the Harvard Class of 1932:
"I have been particularly blessed in my marriage (as anyone who knows Ann can testify) and in four living children -- and grandchildren -- all different, all supportive and all solid characters possessed of a sense of humor."
Indeed, anyone who knows Ann Reardon can testify that he was "particularly blessed" by her sustaining love for nearly fifty years. They were indeed one in a unity of grace and devotion that became the natural heritage of character and loyalty in their daughters and sons.
In the same Fiftieth Anniversary Report, Mr. Justice Reardon wrote:
"On June 21, 1932 as Class Orator I took as my text the inscription on the Dexter Gate: 'Depart to serve better thy country and thy kind.'"
It has occurred to me that if time could somehow be compressed, and one's youth and maturity could meet, the young orator of the Harvard Class of 1932 might encounter the jurist of later years under that Dexter Gate. He might say:
"You are the man I aspired to be. You did depart to serve better thy country and thy kind."
And Mr. Justice Reardon might reply, paraphrasing Willa Cather's hero:
"I have done the things I aspired to do when I departed this gate! To fulfill the dreams of one's youth. That is the best that can happen to a man. No worldly success can take the place of that."
Henry G. Stewart, Esquire, addressed the court as follows:
May it please the court: I speak today on behalf of Justice Reardon's twenty-one law clerks, six who served the Superior Court, and fifteen this court. My remarks reflect not only my own memories, but also the shared recollections of my fellow clerks. I respectfully add our collective motion that this Memorial be spread upon the records of this court.
I first met Justice Reardon in the fall of 1965 when he and Justice Cutter came to the Harvard Law School to interview law clerks. I recall entering the interview room somewhat nervously with all the usual anxieties of a law student applying for his first legal position. After a pleasant but totally insubstantial conversation that lasted no longer than ten minutes, Justice Reardon got up, said he had to park his car, and left. Justice Cutter continued the interview as a single justice, concentrating primarily on my experience as a lieutenant in the Army without any mention of my academic record. I interpreted the early departure of Justice Reardon and Justice Cutter's questions as a rebuff. No clerkship for me.
Much to my surprise I received a letter two days later asking me to clerk for Justice Reardon. I subsequently discovered that Justice Cutter was curious about my military service because this court had no interest in applicants seeking draft deferments at a time when the Vietnam War was heating up. David Tierney, who preceded me as Justice Reardon's clerk, told me that the Judge returned from the interviews and simply said he picked me because "he liked the cut of my jib."
From that experience, I learned about the integrity and patriotism of the Supreme Judicial Court; and I learned for the first, but certainly not the last time, that it did not take Justice Reardon very long to make up his mind.
Nevertheless, although they may have been made speedily, his selection decisions were binding. Justice Reardon maintained lifelong relationships with his clerks. He supported each of us in our individual achievements and took pride in our accomplishments. Twenty-six years after Edward F. Harrington's clerkship, Justice Reardon drafted an eloquent statement in support of his confirmation as a Federal judge. Ted later reported, "His immense prestige as a jurist helped make my confirmation path much smoother."
The clerks remember with particular fondness our individual visits to Hingham and our group outings at Boot Pond. Justice Reardon was impressive in court but home was his natural habitat and that was where we really got to know him. The simplicity, unpretentiousness and unvarnished naturalness of Boot Pond formed the perfect setting for warm conversation, camaraderie and laughter. As we enjoyed the company of Mrs. Reardon and their children, we became keenly aware of the love he and his family shared. We felt privileged to be included in his extended family.
The clerks share one common overwhelming impression of our year with Justice Reardon. From the first day he showed that he respected us. He made us feel from the outset that our neophyte impressions were every bit as important as his accumulated wisdom. He solicited our opinions, listened to what we had to say, and made us feel that we were performing a very important function for this distinguished court. When he disagreed with our opinions, he did so in a manner that made us believe that he understood and valued our views. His treatment of us as full partners in an important enterprise contrasted with the way most of us had been treated by our law school professors and would be treated by some senior attorneys in the firms that many of us later joined. Looking back on it, as one clerk stated, "What extraordinary largesse went into the judge's attitude!"
We worked as a team. That team also included Ms. Helene Flynn, Justice Reardon's dedicated long time legal assistant. Helene, too, became a friend to all of us.
The clerks discovered very early that Justice Reardon did not favor long opinions. To the contrary, he was not certain they should be written at all. At one point he noted that West published 60,000 opinions each year. In his view, that was 58,000 more than necessary.
Justice Reardon demanded precision and simplicity in our memoranda and draft opinions, almost to the point of spareness. He worked hard to simplify the most complex issues and to express his views as concisely as the circumstances permitted. Legal theory was always tempered by common sense.
Although his approach to decision making was open and uncomplicated, his opinion writing revealed a stylistic gift. He liked to write and was comfortable with words. He tried, where appropriate, to "lighten up" his decisions. At times he chafed at the efforts of his colleagues to delete traces of humor from his written work.
Justice Reardon was often more interested in making decisions than in belaboring the fine points of jurisprudence. He reminded us that the job of the court was to decide cases quickly and expeditiously. Or course, most of us clerked before the creation of the Appeals Court and the case load was very heavy. Justice Reardon once quoted Chief Justice Wilkins as saying, just prior to the opening of the curtain on the Monday morning of a sitting week: "Here we stand trapped between Elijah Adlow and Earl Warren."
Justice Reardon frequently drew on his experience as a trial judge in analyzing cases that came before him on this court. He had great respect for the judges on the Superior Court, and accorded, where possible, deference to their decisions. He had worked with many of them; he knew how they struggled to make speedy and fair decisions during the course of trials; he saw the trial and appellate courts as part of a coordinated system of justice; and he wanted the system to work.
While Justice Reardon may have appeared to be worried less about the "lawmaking" role of the court, he held strong personal views about the issues faced by this court. He was a man of firm principle and had a well defined view of right and wrong and of good and bad. In criminal cases, for example, Justice Reardon was an unrepentant believer in the "bad egg" theory. Citizens deserved protection from hardened criminals whom he deemed to be "bad eggs." The young, naive clerk had better be very well prepared on the law before challenging the Justice on that theory!
In spite of his strong views on many of the issues facing the court, there was never any question that law controlled judicial conduct. Justice Reardon's reverence for history and tradition led him to the certain knowledge that the answer to almost any issue could be found in the decided cases. Justice Reardon always modified his own views, however strong, when he thought the law supported a contrary position. He believed in law and order, but, to him, law always came before order.
By his example, Justice Reardon taught his clerks an important lesson in life: how to balance a professional career with other obligations, responsibilities and interests. Very early in my clerkship year, I worked over a weekend to prepare and type a memorandum of some twenty to twenty-five pages. I left the memorandum on Justice Reardon's desk early Monday morning and awaited his call. When he called me upstairs, I went anticipating the considerable praise I believed warranted. Justice Reardon looked up at me as he flicked through the pages. "You did the dollar job on this case," he said, "but it's only a nickel case." "Well," I responded, "I want to do the best I can on every case." He smiled gently and wisely admonished me, "You will find," he said, "that the lawyers who put in a dollar on the nickel cases are often not able to do the dollar job on the dollar cases." Every task required a certain degree of effort, and Justice Reardon's exact and economical allocation of his energies to perform those tasks completely and effectively was a reflection of his genius.
Chief Justice Wilkins was aware of Justice Reardon's many outside judicial activities. For that reason, when cases were being assigned, the Chief Justice on occasion asked him, "Are you overwhelmed?" Justice Reardon uniformly responded, "I am not even whelmed."
At no time did we ever see Justice Reardon "whelmed." There was little or no wasted effort in any task he undertook. Even his pipe was tamped, fit and puffed simply and methodically. During his years on this court, his calendar was filled with numerous outside activities -- an overseer at Harvard, President of the Harvard Alumni Association, Fair Trial-Free Press, Center for State Courts, a trustee of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, and numerous speaking engagements. After dictating opinions to Helene Flynn all morning, he often said, "This afternoon, we'll really get down to work." He would then dictate correspondence and speeches all afternoon. The work of this court always came first, but his capacity to focus and organize his energy enabled him to take on a broad range of important tasks with seeming ease.
Some of us had the pleasure of clerking for Justice Reardon long after our duties on this court had ended.
In 1978, the Governor's Council appointed Justice Reardon to serve as Special Counsel to advise it on whether it should consent to the Governor's removal of the then Chief Justice of the Superior Court. I was appointed Assistant Special Counsel, which is what you call a partner in a large law firm who again becomes a law clerk after twelve years of practice. The Justice and I spent parts of three remarkable days at the State House meeting with the members of that venerable Council. Justice Reardon waded right into this unusual assortment of individuals and soon was exchanging jokes and stories with members of the Council. He and "Sonny" McDonough told one amusing tale after another about politics during the nineteen fifties. As I pored through this court's transcripts and other records zealously preparing findings for a hearing that was ultimately never held, I marvelled at Justice Reardon's absolute ease in communicating with the members of the Council. He knew, as one clerk observed, that "even in the heat of battle, a twinkle in the eye and a good story or two go a long way."
Our work finished abruptly when the Chief Justice resigned just hours before the scheduled hearing. As we were leaving, the Councillor from the North End came over to shake our hands and told Justice Reardon what a pleasure it was to meet "a real judge." He then ascribed a humorous, uncomplimentary and absolutely unrepeatable androgynous quality to certain unnamed members of the judiciary. Justice Reardon turned and gave me an enormous wink. We left the State House laughing all the way down the steps.
Perhaps I can best sum up our experiences as clerks by relating an allegedly true story that Justice Reardon liked to tell about the time he served as a University proctor at Harvard following his graduation:
"In those simpler days," he recalled, "the University police did not have as much serious business as they have today. The then Superintendent of the Harvard Yard Police was Charles Apted. On one occasion he was called by a lady living in Ridgeley Hall, a private apartment adjoining Claverly Hall, a Harvard dormitory. She complained to Mr. Apted that the boys in Claverly were getting into bed at night without bothering to pull down their curtains, and this was a source of great annoyance to her. Mr. Apted replied that he would be right down. When he arrived she showed him the window from which she was able to check on these horrors, and he said, 'Madam, you can't see anything from here.' Whereupon she replied, 'You just stand on that radiator and you can see everything that I saw!'"
Justice Reardon was not an individual who placed himself on top of the radiator. He didn't need to. He had a clear view of what is important in this life with both feet on the ground. He stood solidly in the center of many matters significant to the administration of justice in this Commonwealth, and in these United States. He lived as fully and as well as life could be lived. As one clerk observed, "We loved him; we will miss him; we all were enriched by him."
Retired Chief Justice Edward F. Hennessey, speaking for the court at the request of Chief Justice Liacos, responded as follows:
The Reardon family is here with us and, especially to Ann, but to all of them, go the warmest wishes of the court and all of us here assembled.
Memorial services for our deceased Justices have been a gracious custom of this court for more than two hundred years. If we look back through the more than four hundred volumes of the court's Reports, we read the beautiful words of tribute delivered by Daniel Webster, Rufus Choate, O.W. Holmes and many other distinguished voices. Today's eloquent tributes by our three speakers once more, as so many times in the past, reflect great affection and respect for a departed colleague. For that, Attorney General Shannon, Attorney Edward Hanify and Attorney Henry Stewart have the thanks of the court and all here present.
Paul Reardon delighted in ceremonial events like this one. For some years he was the unofficial chief of protocol for the court. I remember that he tried valiantly to teach his colleagues how to bow. He told us that, by long tradition, a newly arrived Justice should be greeted by all of the Justices bowing in his or her direction and the newcomer bowing in response. Paul attempted this choreography several times over the years. One observer's comment was that the court's effort bore little resemblance to the unison of the Radio City Rockettes and looked more like the sequential bobbing of the horses on a merry-go-round. Paul's comment: "You people may be tolerable lawyers, but as 'bowers' you aren't worth beans."
Our speakers have done wonderfully well in describing the pattern of Paul's personality and his full life -- a life dedicated to service of the country and the Commonwealth. Let me add just a few snapshots from his life.
I remember that on public occasions he usually had a touch of humor to contribute. His choice of stories perhaps sometimes showed more courage than anything else, but they were his own very special brand of humor. He told, for instance, of the stranger who entered a church for services, and was chagrined to find that he had to pay seat money at the entrance -- and through a turnstile, no less. He left the service early, and soon discovered that he had left his brand new hat behind him. He tried to re-enter the church. Seat money was again requested. "But I'm just going in to get my hat," he said. "All right," was the response. "No seat money, but remember: no praying!"
On another occasion, there was Paul's tale about the midget in Czechoslovakia who was being pursued through the night by Nazi troops. The midget knocked at a farmhouse door and inquired of the lady of the house: "Madam, would you be so good as to cache a small Czech?"
You now appreciate what I mean about Paul's courage.
There are so many snapshots we could dwell upon, but few were as poignant as the day just thirty years ago when Paul, as Chief Justice of the Superior Court, headed the procession of the Justices of that court through the streets between the Courthouse and the State House. It was the Superior Court's one hundredth anniversary. About a year ago the Boston newspapers reprinted the photograph of that procession: the judges marching two-by-two and by seniority, all garbed in formal clothes and tall silk hats, with Brother Reardon in the lead. Close behind him were Judges Frank Donahue, Frank Murray, Lou Goldberg, Charles Bolster, John V. Sullivan and other charismatic members of the bench. On Paul C. Reardon's face was a broad grin which said to all of us who watched, "Don't we look silly, and isn't it all wonderful!"
Just one more snapshot, this one of another procession on a beautiful summer day in 1976 when the Justices of the Supreme Court of the United States and the Chief Justices of all the States and Territories, marched through the streets of Williamsburg, Virginia, to their destination at the handsome new building which was to house the National Center for State Courts. Near the head of the procession marched Paul Reardon.
As Chief Justice Warren Burger cut the ribbon at the entrance to the building, no person in that assemblage had any greater right to be proud than Paul Reardon, the first president of the National Center for State Courts. Here was a milestone in the persistent effort of many years by Chief Justice Burger, Paul Reardon, and a very few others, to establish a center for cooperation among the courts of the fifty States, and between the State and Federal courts. Here was a focal point where the States could teach each other and learn from each other in the administration of justice. Here was an instrument to renew and strengthen the principle of federalism and to reassert the rightful role of the States.
Chief Justice Burger had every intention to be here, but he could not for a very good reason. He has sent to us this message:
Supreme Court of the United States
Chambers of Chief Justice Burger Retired
I deeply regret that I cannot be present to join in paying tribute to our distinguished friend, Paul Reardon. He and I became friends more than 20 years ago and I was well aware of his record of service to the state of Massachusetts before he became a member of the Supreme Judicial Court and of his dedication to public service. He was an early supporter of the creation of the State-Federal Council to bring about closer coordination between state and federal courts.
Later, at the Conference of the Judiciary at Williamsburg in 1971, we worked closely together in efforts that led to the creation of the National Center for State Courts. With the late Justice Louis Burke of the California Supreme Court and the late Justice Tom Clark and others, the first steps to create that important Center were taken. Within a few months, the Articles of Incorporation were signed at a meeting in my chambers at the Supreme Court and soon after that Paul was elected the first President of the Center. As President, he presided over the steps that led to the building of the national headquarters at Williamsburg.
As I look back over the history of the Judiciary of our country from the vantage point of more than 20 years of practice and more than 30 years on the Bench, I can see no single step of greater importance to the administration of justice in America than the creation of the National Center for State Courts. It has given and will continue to give the state courts a clearinghouse for research and development and has contributed enormously to improving the delivery of justice, particularly in the state courts where the overwhelming amount of litigation is carried on.
Paul Reardon's creative leadership as first President of the National Center for State Courts is well known among judges throughout the country and I am proud to honor his memory and his contributions to improving the administration of justice.
Warren E. Burger
About a year ago, services were held for Justice Paul C. Reardon in St. Paul's Church in Hingham. The church was filled to overflowing despite the oppressively hot weather. It was a Mass of Celebration for a life well and remarkably lived. On that occasion I closed my remarks with words, fittingly enough, of St. Paul:
Whatever things are true,
whatever of good repute,
whatever excellent and worthy of praise,
whatever of virtue,
think upon these things.
So said St. Paul. We do think upon these things and in thinking upon them we think of Paul Reardon.
Thank you, Mr. Chief Justice. Thank you all.
The Chief Justice said: The motions are allowed with great pleasure.
The court will now adjourn.
1 Piccnick v. Cleary, 360 Mass.1 (1971)
2 School Comm. of Boston v. Board of Educ., 364 Mass. 199 (1973).
3 Commencement Address delivered by Honorable Paul C. Reardon at MacMurray College, Jacksonville, Illinois, May 23, 1971.