This week I will be blogging from London, England. Today will be the first day, though I arrive around 10 pm in London. I will be speaking at the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta. I will be participating on a program organized by Hon. Delissa A. Ridgway, Judge of the United States Court of International Trade entitled “What if . . . there had been no Magna Carta?”
Judge Ridgway has continued her truly global reputation as one of the leading intellectuals of the judiciary from her ground-breaking work on “the cultural defense” to her comprehensive work on comparative legal issues.
I am honored to serve as a moderator on the panel as well as a participant in the discussion. The panel will include three internationally renowned figures.
First, there is the Honorable Bernice B. Donald of the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. I have had the distinct honor of appearing with Judge Donald at various events over the years. She is truly a woman of “firsts” who career has been celebrated as a triumph of intellect and passion in the law. In 2010, she became the the first African-American female judge to be placed on the Sixth Circuit. She was, in 1982, the first African-American female judge in the history of Tennessee. In 1988, she was appointed to the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, becoming the first woman in the history of the United States to serve as a bankruptcy judge. In 1995, she was appointed by President Bill Clinton to serve on the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Tennessee. She has been a leading voice for the rule of law on an international scale.
We are especially fortunate to an equally towering figure from the English courts: The Right Honourable Lord Justice Christopher Clarke, Court of Appeal. Sir Christopher Clarke was called to the Bar in Middle Temple in 1969 and was appointed as a Queen’s Counsel in 1984. From 1990-2004, he served as a Recorder and a Deputy High Court Judge from 1993-2004. He was a Judge of the Court of Appeal of Jersey and Guernsey from 1998 to 2004. From 2005-2013, he was a High Court Judge, sitting in the Commercial Court. In 2014, he was appointed as a Lord Justice of Appeal in 2013. Like Judge Donald, Sir Clarke has remained a powerful intellectual force on the bench and in the bar.
Last, but certainly not least, is Ian S. Williams, of the University College of London Law. Dr. Williams is a leading expert on early-modern legal reasoning and theory. He is also working on the theory and practice of the court of Star Chamber as a court of equity and the idea of the Chancery as a prerogative court. His work currently focuses on the work and influence of the Elizabethan scholar William Lambarde. Dr. Williams’ publications are too extensive to recount here but would the envy of any academic. In a field with hundreds of years of scholarship, Dr. Williams is viewed as one of the great new minds in English legal theory. Dr. Williams was just honored with the Selden Society’s David Yale Prize, for his “distinguished contribution to the history of the laws and legal institutions of England and Wales.”
It is frankly a far too grand company for the likes of me. However, despite the feeling of “country come to town,” I am looking forward to our session immensely. I am also looking forward to planned events with the House of Commons and the Lincoln’s Inn as well the usual irresistible tourist attractions of London. I will be trying to post during this week but that will depend on sleep deprivation and a myriad of distractions. Please be patient but I hope to share some of my usual highly subjective review of restaurants, pubs, and hotels. As many of you know, my particular love is military history so London is an overwhelming attraction as the very font for much of American and world history. I will certainly not do it justice on this blog but I expect to have a ball trying to do so.