June 2016 Bar Bulletin
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June 2016 Bar Bulletin

McMicken, Rupp & Schweppe — A Memoir

(Fourth in a Series)


When we last left you in May, Mr. Rupp was reminiscing about various lawyers in the firm.

Bernard Reiter was a very practical lawyer and an exceedingly ingenious one. Thinking “under the other fellow” was a specialty of his. One time he and Otto Giese and Steve Chadwick (“Young Steve”) were defending three separate defendants in a lawsuit brought by old George Crandall for a woman named Knox. Mr. Crandall had a witness on the stand, and Steve successfully objected to the witness’ testimony on the ground that it was irrelevant.

Whereupon Mr. Crandall made an offer of proof — a statement by him to the judge of what this witness’ evidence would be, thus seeking to show that it was indeed relevant. He got to parading around and making all sorts of extravagant statements. So Bernard whispered to Steve, “Withdraw the objection”, and Steve did. Whereupon Mr. Crandall had to try to prove by the witness what Mr. Crandall had just said, and he couldn’t come within two miles of doing it.

Another Bernard vignette that I remember stemmed from the wave of land speculation that accompanied the second, and last, of the Denny Hill Regrades. Mr. Ramsey, on his own account, was one of those speculators and Bernard once remarked that he was going to help Mr. Ramsey write a definitive textbook on “The Law of Third Mortgages”.

Bernard’s father, Carl Reiter, had been a vaudeville performer in his early years. When I knew him, Carl Reiter was manager of the Orpheum Theatre in Seattle, and he and B. Marcus Priteca had done the design of the Orpheum on Stewart Street. That theatre was torn down when the Washington Plaza Hotel was built on the site about three years ago [1968]. Bernard thus was practically brought up back stage and was always widely acquainted with theatre people.

As his father was, Bernard was a magnificent story teller and was much sought after on the banquet circuit. The publicity and spurious adulation that this entailed disturbed him. People, as people will, used to tell him “Mr. Reiter, you should have gone on the stage”; to which he would reply “On the contrary, Madame. I am a very fine lawyer.” Another remark of his, along the same line, would appear when some client would say, “Mr. Reiter, how can I ever thank you?” To which the reply was, “Well, there’s always money.”

A most admirable man, Bernard, and his legion of friends was distressed when he died on Christmas Eve in 1964.

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