What would Judge Murnaghan think?

Amy Horton, 08.06.14

Queasy.  That’s how I felt when I was asked to write a blog entry for the Murnaghan Fellowship website.  No wasn’t an option:  I’m a former clerk of Judge Murnaghan;  I’m a board member for the Fellowship; I support the work of PJC,  where the Murnaghan Fellows serve; and  I’m committed to supporting appellate advocacy to fight injustice, poverty and discrimination.

But a blogger, I am not.

In the days after I capitulated, it amused me to wonder what the Judge would make of today’s blogosphere.   Despite his classical tastes and strict grammarian impulses, he was never stodgy in his thinking.  He might find the level of blog discourse to be – well, appalling.  But he might also find blogging a useful way to educate.

I tried hard to think of a pun using the word blog – and found myself smiling, just thinking about the impish look on the Judge’s face whenever he landed one of his famously bad quips.  Even the sound of the word blog, I imagined, would be amusing to the Judge.

I considered begging off – busy month for busy lawyer – but quickly eliminated that coward’s path, remembering the lifetime of public service the Judge managed to squeeze in between a busy law practice and family.  He was never too busy to consider injustice and poverty to be urgent matters worthy of his time.

Carrying the Judge around in my head in this fashion for a few weeks was really just an exaggerated state of the norm for me.  Which is to say – I, like many of the Judge’s clerks, was changed – well – improved upon –by the Judge.    I strive a little harder than I might have before, to be flexible in my thinking.   I remember a little more often to integrate humor into my work.  I strive to keep a balance between my work-work and public service.  And I do this in part because I want – still want – to please the Judge, honor his legacy.

The circle of persons touched by the Judge widens each time a new Murnaghan Fellow arrives to serve as appellate advocate on behalf of the underserved.    But I think we can gain faster traction to fight for social justice by using all means at our disposal – even social media!   Ergo: my first blog.

And my invitation to hear from you—former clerks of the Judge, Fellows (past, present and future), friends and admirers of the Judge, appellate advocates and fighters for legal justice everywhere.  We want to hear from you: reports from the legal front, ideas worth spreading, communiques, and good tidings.

We hope that by sharing stories, ideas, news, concerns and interests – by on-line dialog in support of and to influence appellate advocacy – and with a little “blog-ged” determination – we can broaden the reach of the Murnaghan Fellows’ work and the Judge’s legacy.