IN THE CIRCUIT COURT FOR MONTGOMERY COUNTY, MARYLAND
M E M O R I A L S E R V I C E
November 4, 1977
In Memory of:
William L. Irvin
John A. Overholt
Marvin E. Preis
James F. Tomes
HONORABLE RALPH G. SHURE
HONORABLE WILLIAM H. McCULLOUGH
HONORABLE JOSEPH M. MATHIAS
HONORABLE JOHN J. MITCHELL
HONORABLE RICHARD B. LATHAM
WILLIAM M. CANBY, President, Montgomery County Bar Association
STEDMAN PRESCOTT, JR., Chairman, Memorial Committee
CLIFFORD C. KASLOW, ESQ.
JAMES W. HANE, ESQ.
GLENN O. HALL, ESQ.
STEVEN M. COOPER, ESQ.
JAMES W. SALTER, ESQ.
P R O C E E D I N G S
JUDGE SHURE: The Court recognizes Mr. Canby, president of the Montgomery County Bar Association.
MR. CANBY: Judge Shure, Associate Judges, I would like to introduce at this time Stedman Prescott, Jr., who is chairman of our Memorial Committee who will assist in the conducting of these services.
JUDGE SHURE: Mr. Prescott.
MR. PRESCOTT: May it please Your Honor, this is the occasion that is set aside annually by the Court and the Bar Association for Montgomery County, Maryland to memorialize our departed colleagues who have passed on during the year.
May it please Your Honor, I would ask that a copy of this record be transcribed and move the Court that the transcription be placed upon the permanent records of the Court.
JUDGE SHURE: That will be done, Mr.Prescott.
MR PRESCOTT: I will introduce a speaker who will speak on behalf of each one of the departed colleagues who is to be memorialized here today and then I understand Your Honor will in turn call on a member of the Bench to answer those comments.
May it please Your Honor, I would first like to call on Mr. Clifford Kaslow who will speak on behalf of Mr. Arthur Lessenger.
JUDGE SHURE: Mr. Kaslow.
MR. KASLOW: May it please the Court, members of the Bar assembled and members of those families here on behalf of the departed lawyers, in the fall of 1975 a young lawyer, Arthur Lessenger, came to me, and I hired him as a young lawyer to help me. He had worked for Judge McCullough, and if I was ever impressed in my life it was with this young man. He had gone to the University of Ohio where he got a bachelors degree and then eventually he graduated from G. W. Law School.
The first impression was that he was bumptious, aggressive, full of energy and yet possessing considerable talent and just enormous energy. I don’t think I was able to restrain. He did what I asked. He did it at odd hours. He worked weekends, nights. Sometimes it was hard to find him during the day, but he was a fine young fellow.
He was often right and often wrong. He was indeed an adversary. He made as many friends as any young fellow I know, and he had great contacts and great friends amongst the Bar. Most of his friends were in Prince George's’County. He handled cases in Prince George’s County, Montgomery County, and the District.
I really liked him. Like many lawyers my age, I have had long time relationships. I had a long association myself. One lasted more than 25 years, but this year and some months with this young man impressed me at least as much.
He died at 29 years of age. His death was terrible, painful, and the result of a sudden cancer. Up to the last, he worked. He was undergoing considerable pain. He was taking severe, heroic treatment, chemotherapy and other treatments, but he persisted. Not only did he try to handle the work he was doing, but he endeavored to get admitted to the Bar of Virginia. He tried to invoke some relaxation of the rules in the Supreme Court so he would be admitted there before the time had ripened. He was busy. He did not accept his illness. He worked continuously.
I was really convinced that if this young fellow had a chance in life he would have been indeed a fine lawyer, an outstanding lawyer, and I know that his friends as well as his family deeply regret his passing.
JUDGE SHURE: Thank you Mr. Kaslow.
Judge McCullough of the Circuit Court for Prince George’s County will respond for the Court.
JUDGE McCULLOUGH: Some of what I may say may duplicate what Mr. Kaslow stated, but Arthur Lessenger was out of all of the law clerks I had in Prince George’s County probably the most aggressive, most friendly, warm, and intelligent young man that I had the opportunity to know.
He was born on June 23, 1948, and he died on August 19, 1977 at the age of 29. He leaves surviving him his father, Benjamin Lessenger, and Mildred Lessenger, a brother, J. David Lessenger who is with the opera company in New York City.
Art grew up in Paterson, New Jersey, and as you have been told, he attended the University of Ohio for one year and transferred to G.W. University in 1968, graduated from there with a bachelor of arts degree in political science in 1971. He applied to G.W. Law School, but when he did apply he missed whatever the requirement was on the LSAT score by one point, but he made up his mind G.W. Law School was the law school he wanted to go to. Dean Potts – maybe some of you know him – told Art, well, you go to any other law school in the city and you get A’s throughout your first year and you come back and we will admit you.
That is exactly what he did. He went to the Columbia School of Law, Catholic University for the first year, came back to Dean Potts, showed him his report card, all A’s, and was admitted. He was a member of the Law Review his entire time at G.W.
He came to work for me in September of 1974 until October of 1975. He then went to Mr. Kaslow’s Office.
He completely rewrote the law clerks’ handbook for all of the law clerks in Prince George’s County and they still use it and are still keeping it up to date.
He was admitted to the D. C. Bar on January 10, 1975. He was admitted to the Maryland Bar on June 25, 1975, and he will be admitted positively to the New Jersey Bar when the records up there have been completed.
When he had to go down to his meeting with a lawyer on the Admissions Committee to the Maryland Bar, he asked me if I would write him a letter certifying he was of good character, and I asked him why, “Why should I do that. You have been working for me this year and I know you are of good character.” He said, “Well, you forgot about my arrest record.” I said, “Art, what arrest record?” He said, “Didn’t you read my resume?” I said, “No, frankly I did not.”
I was in a bind for a law clerk at the time and I called Dean Potts and I said, “Dean, I need a law clerk.” He sent me some young man. Out came Art. Then, I interviewed him in the office and hired him.
As it turned out, what he was concerned about was he had been arrested for sitting on a bulldozer when they tried to put a bridge across Roosevelt Island. No charges were ultimately placed. He had been arrested for a peace march in Washington, D. C., and he had been held in contempt of court alreadyu, not yet a lawyer, because when he was leaving Superior Court one day before he got out of the door he put his hat on, and the Superior Court judge said, “Arrest that man,” and Art stepped aside, hearing the feet behind him, thinking they were going for someone else. They grabbed him. The judge set aside the contempt decree against Art.
Those were some of the things he used to get very interested in, and when he did get interested in things, he went at it full speed.
Art loved life. His enthusiasm for everything he did was infectious. He was an energetic and forceful young man.
Marlboro Courthouse, the town of Upper Marlbor has been there since 1706. A group of people in the courthouse now are collecting funds to place a memorial plaque to Art Lessenger in the Prince George’s County Law Library. That will give you an idea of how many dear friends that he made for the one year that he spent with me in Marlboro, and I miss him, and Mr. Chairman, thank you for inviting me here today to make these brief remarks on behalf of Art Lessenger.
JUDGE SHURE: Thank you, Judge McCullough.