The Law School Magazine  ·  Fall 2009 : Features

As Justice’s Arrival Nears, Preparation Pays Off

By - Fall 2009
Print | Email

Moritz Professor Douglas A. Berman didn’t quite know what would transpire after discussing with Suja A. Thomas, a then-University of Cincinnati law professor, in April 2007 about a possible conference regarding “originalism and the jury.”

Thomas had just finished speaking at a Moritz event regarding her research on the Seventh Amendment’s right to jury trial. Berman thought the topic – combined with his work regarding the Sixth Amendment – would make for a well-received discussion on originalism.

“We both agreed that trying to invite Justice (Antonin) Scalia would make the most sense for such a conference,” Berman said. “And so we did.”

The two – along with Jeffrey Sutton ’90, a judge on the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals and former Scalia clerk – drafted a formal invitation letter to the justice.

“We received a letter back from Justice Scalia’s office indicating that he would not be able to make it to the law school during the 2007-2008 school year,” Berman said. “They told us that they would keep our request in mind, but, at that point, I really didn’t think he was going to be able to be part of an event at Moritz.”

But, in September 2008, Berman said that they received notice that Justice Scalia was interested in coming to the proposed event. The University of Illinois College of Law, where Thomas now is a professor, is co-sponsoring the event in Drinko Hall on Nov. 17.

And since learning the justice planned to attend the event, preparations have not slowed.

Distinguished panelists from around the country have agreed to visit the Moritz College of Law to participate in the symposium. Nearly 20 speakers will discuss originalism and the jury throughout the day as part of four panels: Originalism in Advocacy; Seventh Amendment Civil Jury Trial; Sixth Amendment Criminal Jury Trial; and The Framers and the Jury.

The symposium discussion will be furthered in a future edition of the Ohio State Law Journal.

Students organizing the event said they are particularly proud of the mix of panelists who have agreed to attend.

“Of course it is great to have Justice Scalia coming, but the Ohio State Law Journal is really excited about all the panelists who have agreed to speak throughout the day,” said Peter Glenn-Applegate ’10, editor-in-chief of the journal.

Nathan Colvin ’10, the journal’s symposium editor, has taken the lead on most of the invitations, confirmations, logistics, and other countless issues that are required prior to such an important event. Colvin and Glenn-Applegate have met weekly with Moritz staff to coordinate, in addition to the justice’s arrival, four panels of speakers, arrivals, departures, registrations, a lunch and dinner, and other logistics.

Colvin and the 2009-10 journal staff do have one important advantage: they had the opportunity to watch and learn from the visit of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg for last year’s Ohio State Law Journal symposium.

“It was nice to be able to watch and take notes during that event,” said Colvin, a 3L and Cincinnati native.

It’s estimated that more than half of the 100 members of the Ohio State Law Journal will have some volunteer duty leading up to and during the symposium. “It’s mostly little stuff,” Glenn-Applegate said, “but it is what needs to be done to have a successful event of this size.”

What’s keeping Colvin up at night? “It’s making sure that nothing falls through the cracks,” he said. “There are a lot of moving parts and all of our planning must keep that in mind. We need to be so prepared that nothing major can go wrong.”

Both students agreed that it has been a pleasure to have two U.S. Supreme Court justices visit Moritz in 2009. “I feel very lucky,” Glenn-Applegate said. “I realize that it was nothing that I did or the journal has done, it is the relationships that the College and its faculty and alumni have. I feel like we need to keep this streak going.”