January 2014 Bar Bulletin
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January 2014 Bar Bulletin

"Why, When I Was in Law School ..."

 

[This month, we pick up John Rupp's story of his days at the University of Washington School of Law and "old" Condon Hall in the 1930s with his remembrances of the faculty. As always, we present it just as he typed it up.]

Third of a Series

Another good young professor was Breck P. McAllister. Those of us who got to know him liked him very much, but he was never the students' favorite that Jack Ritchie was. Breck taught Constitutional Law and Taxation. His course on Taxation did not deal with the Federal Income Tax law. We'd had the income tax for 21 years so I suppose there was a course on it, but, if so, I never took it. McAllister's Taxation course was really a continuation of that on Constitutional Law because many of the constitutional law cases involved taxation.

Nowadays, I suppose, most people think of constitutional law questions as those involving civil rights and separation of church and state and rights of felons and bi-lingual education and the like. At the time of which I write, however, we had had the Constitution for 150 years, but the courts had not yet discovered in it all those classy modern principles. For example, if a parent had gone to court in 1936 and said, "Court, my child speaks only French. The defendant school board refuses to teach him, using French. They say English is the language of this country and they refuse to hire a French-speaking teacher for him. They're denying him the Equal Protection of the Laws, your honor"; the court would have said, "Case dismissed. And you're fined $50 for bringing a frivolous lawsuit."

Breck McAllister was with us for about three years. Then he married Charlotte Heussy and moved to New York and practiced law there in the firm of Donovan & Leisure until he died about ten years ago.

Oh, I should tell you about Jack Ritchie's course in "Introduction to Law and Common Law Pleading". So I do so.

I have been told that King Court Superior Court Judge Hugh Todd was indignant with the State Supreme Court because never once in that court's opinions was Todd referred to as "the learned trial judge". Whether that tale is true I do not know, but it will serve to make the point that not every judge, and not every lawyer, can be said to be "learned in the law". To be so one must, in Sir Edward Coke's words, be one "who knoweth the law and the reasons therefor". Generally, "the reasons therefor" are found in Legal History, and there is a wealth of that in the writings of such men as Pollock, Maitland, Holdsworth, Vinogradoff, Kent, Cardozo, Wigmore, Holmes and Windeyer.


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