We fought for over forty years, but remained friends. He was a paradox. Tough, mean, and gentle. When a client would say to me that he came home to an empty house, I would tell him "You've just been Brodskyed." I always made sure to have someone stationed at the house when he took my client's deposition.
On one occasion the attorney for the husband was trying to prove the adultery through the Chinese houseboy. (Jack and I were on the same side in this case. For some reason, the woman wanted me to stay in, and was willing to pay for two lawyers.) When the interpreter asked the critical question, before it could be translated, Jack said "That's enough. This is harassment, and I'm filing for a protective order." He then ordered everyone out of his office. Irv Levine heard the Motion and was furious, but by that time the house boy had gone back to China and the deposition was never completed.
He continued to be tough, even in the nursing home, when his weight dropped down below 100 pounds. Once when I started to push his wheelchair down the hall, he waved me off, and grasped a hand rail that ran along the wall and pulled himself forward. He even had someone he hired take him down to the Potomac, so he could ride in a Kayak one last time.
His brain was still as sharp and active as ever, buried under the Parkinson's. I mentioned a case we had against each other in 1960, where he took me to the Municipal Court of Appeals in D.C. When I mentioned the name, he immediately shot back "Implied covenant of inhabitability."
But there was also a gentle side that he kept carefully hidden. Once, when my kids were small, he invited me to bring them up for brunch to a little shack he had in the woods. He showed them the water where he kept his kayak, and he and Trixie prepared a pretty elaborate brunch, with lox, cream cheese, white fish etc. I was surprised that he had the patience to put up with my kids, who were not the best behaved in the world. They actually enjoyed him, which surprised me even more.
About twenty years ago, I got a call from Jack asking me to hurry over to the Courthouse. Phil Fairbanks was not going to award a fee without expert testimony. Two days later, I got a letter from Jack directing me to go to Raleigh's and pick out a suit. (I never took him up on it.)
When I would visit him in the nursing home, I would sometimes bring pictures of my most recent trip. The last time I saw him, he had my pictures from Costa Rica taped up on the wall, like a kid' refrigerator art.
He was a mean bastard. He was a gentle giant. He was one of a kind. He will be missed.
Harvey Steinberg, Esquire