Today marks the first day of the Honorable Judge Nancy Gertner's retirement from the United States District Court, where she has served since her nomination to the bench by President Clinton in 1994. Don't worry--she's not going to take up quilting or zip off to a deck chair in Boca: the illustrious judge has been appointed a Professor of Practice at Harvard Law School, where Dean Martha Minow said upon her appointment:
"Nancy Gertner's brilliance as a legal advocate did so much to advance civil rights, criminal law, and the rule of law for two decades even before her appointment to the federal bench. As a distinguished federal judge for the past 17 years, she has brought keen intelligence, deep learning, and rigorous investigation of facts and law while also serving as an inspiring teacher and scholar. She has shared her searching questions, rich experiences, and uncanny ability to bridge theory and practice with students at Harvard Law School and elsewhere, and I could not be more delighted that she will now join our community as a Professor of Practice." (link)
She ended her tenure with a severalnoteworthydecisions. We wish JudgeProfessor Gertner well in her new academic digs, and can't wait to read her next memoir.
In honor of her retirement, here are some videos of her talking about her legal career, including her first case as a lawyer and how she became a judge.
Beacon Press director Helene Atwan talked with Judge Nancy Gertner about her new book, In Defense of Women: Memoirs of an Unrepentant Advocate. Watch to hear about her life as a defense lawyer, what it meant to her to defend women, and the different paths Gertner and Justice Sotomayor took to becoming judges.
"Nancy Gertner's book should be required reading at every law school in the country where women-and men-are learning these days that they have to choose between a successful legal career and their deepest convictions about justice. She is living proof that you don't have to sacrifice one for the other. You can have it all. Indeed, she has done it all." -Ellen Goodman, author of Paper Trail
From a "Human Rights Hero," a memoir of her illustrious career litigating groundbreaking cases
Today Judge Nancy Gertner dons a long black robe while presiding over court cases for the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts. But in the 1970s, when she was one of few women in a stubbornly male profession, she sported bright red suits that reflected her fearless choice of cases and her daring litigation tactics. Defending clients in some of the most prominent criminal and civil rights cases of the time, Gertner drove home the point that women lawyers belonged in our courtrooms.
In 1975, Nancy Gertner launched her legal career by defending antiwar activist Susan Saxe, who was on trial for her role in a robbery that resulted in the murder of a police officer. It was a high-profile, complex, and highly charged case. What followed for Gertner was a career of other groundbreaking firsts, as she fought her way through the boys' club climate of the time, throwing herself into criminal and civil cases focused on women's rights and civil liberties.
Looking back on her storied career, Gertner writes about her struggle to succeed personally and professionally while working on benchmark cases. Among her clients were a woman suing the psychiatrist who had repeatedly molested her; another on trial for murdering her abusive husband; Teresa Contardo, suing Merrill Lynch for discrimination; and Clare Dalton, suing Harvard Law School for the same offense. In her signature red suit, Nancy Gertner was always the unrepentant advocate in defense of women. But over the years she also represented a student accused of rape; Ted Anzalone, on trial for extortion; and Matthew Stuart, implicated in his brother Charles's infamous murder of his pregnant wife.
In Defense of Women is the one-of-a-kind memoir of an exceptional, self-proclaimed "outsider lawyer."
This week, our authors' words have been quoted, posted, and commented on throughout the online community on a wide range of urgent topics. They're going viral and we invite you to continue the conversation. Here are a few highlights:
Mark Hyman's book, Until It Hurts, is a central topic for Jane Brody's recent article in the New York Times. Documenting the history and facts of overworked young athletes, Brody's piece delves into the Phelps family and other fascinating examples of the
abuses of our obsession with youth sports.
From its highly lucrative revenue to its inherent racial biases, the adult film industry continues to thrive and affect many. Marie Claire addresses five shocking facts from Gail Dines's book, Pornland, set to release this July.
In an interview with WBUR, U.S. District Court Judge Nancy Gertner is described as "push[ing] for better science, better evidence and convictions that she can have more faith in." Gertner's new book, In Defense of Women: Memoirs of an Unrepentant Advocate, is due spring 2011.
In an article on Grist correlating falling birthrates to sexism, Fred Pearce author of The Coming Population Crash, is quoted for his research on the conservative ideals of Italy and the Vatican versus the flexibility of Swedish gender roles.
Finally, we close honoring a writer whose teachings still inspire conversation today. In a 1972 lecture titled "Why to Believe in Others" (recently posted on Ted.com), Viktor Frankl, author of Man's Search for Meaning, expresses the psychiatry behind reaching human potential through his use of insight and humor. Frankl states with zeal: "If we take man as he is, we make him worse; but if we take man as he should be, we make him capable of becoming what he can be!"