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Senator O'MAHONEY. Thank you very much.
Senator Watkins, did you want to ask any questions?
Senator WATKINS. I do not have any questions. I think he said all that could be said. I do not know how anybody could say it any better.
Senator O'MAHONEY. Judge Soper, we will be happy to hear from you, sir.
STATEMENT OF HON. MORRIS A. SOPER, JUDGE, UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE FOURTH CIRCUIT
Judge SOPER. Mr. Chairman, my difficulty will be to restrain myself within proper limits of time, especially in view of the dignity of this body and the large number of spectators.
Senator O'MAHONEY. May I interrupt you, Judge, at this point, to ask you to state your position, for the record?
Judge SOPER. I am now a United States circuit judge, and a member of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, and have been such since May 1931. That is, it will be 25 years, I think, on the 9th of this month.
Prior to that I was for 8 years, beginning in March 1923, United States district judge for Maryland; and then for 8 years, beginning January 2, 1914, I was chief judge of the supreme bench of Baltimore City.
I pause to ask, is there any other question to ask at this time?
Senator O'MAHONEY. No. I just wanted your identification to be a matter of record. I knew, of course, of your previous service, and of the position that you now hold.
Perhaps I should ask you this: Are you not a retired judge?
Judge SOPER. I have taken what we call qualified retirement, Senator, but I am still performing services as completely as I did before retirement, and hope and expect to do so indefinitely.
Senator O'MAHONEY. Well, we all wish you long life and happiness, Judge, that you may do this indefinitely.
Judge SOPER. I have had a pretty long life, Senator, and I am pretty happy in that reflection, sir, of your good wishes.
Your question as to what positions I have held and what I now hold gives me a starting point.
Senator O'MAHONEY. Thank you.
Judge SOPER. I was once a young man and was appointed by the Governor of Maryland to be the chief judge of the supreme bench of Baltimore City, and at that time I desired to have a secretary and a bailiff. I did not know Mr. Sobeloff before my appointment, but I learned that he was the type of man that I needed. And he came with me. I think he could not have been over 19 or 20 years of age at the time.
He stayed with me from 1914, in January, until, I think, 1917, during which period he acted as my secretary and my bailiff, and attended law school at the same time.
He was not willing to stay in this unimportant position, because he wanted to practice law, and then he left.
It has been my good fortune to follow his career from 1914 down to the present day. I could touch on a number of points in which
our careers have coincided, and perhaps I should do so in order to give you some idea of what Judge Sobeloff has done.
I think the next very direct contact I had with him was when there was a vacancy in the position of United States attorney for Maryland in 1931. General Woodcock was made probate judge and administrator, and I will have to confess here that, being greatly interested in who would be district attorney of the court in which I was then a judge, I had the hardihood to suggest to Mr. Sobeloff that I thought he would be a good man.
He rejected the idea, but on second thought he concluded that he would take it. In short, he was appointed. He served in our circuit for 4 years.
In the meantime, I had become a member of our present court, and I was familiar not only with his services but with the services of all of the other district attorneys, of whom there were 17 or 18 in the fourth circuit.
Without any invidious comparison, frankness compels me to say that Mr. Sobeloff was the best of the lot. We were sorry to see him go. Senator WATKINS. This was a Federal court?
Judge SOPER. This was the United States district attorney from Maryland. He was the head of the office. He appointed capable men, and ran the office as it should be.
He left that office when there was a revolution in politics, Senator, in 1932 or 1933.
Senator WATKINS. I remember that. I was a judge then, and I retired at the same time.
Senator O'MAHONEY. The people do speak upon occasion. [Laughter.]
Judge SOPER. Well, he acted in every way as I think a district attorney should act.
I was aware, in the meantime, of the several important positions which he had in Baltimore of a legal character, and that was the thing that I was most interested in. He was at various times assistant solicitor, deputy solicitor. That is the chief law office of the city of Baltimore.
He served under both Republican and Democratic mayors. He was of the utmost importance and assistance to the Governor of Maryland in various voluntary public work that could be done, and made an outstanding contribution to our public life.
I may say, also, that I was aware of the fact that a very distingished man in Maryland was requested by this administration to suggest someone as Solicitor General of the United States; and I know that on that list, which was given by the man who is the outstanding judge in Maryland-not myself, of course-Mr. Sobeloff's name was at the top of the list. I am not certain that that accomplished that appointment, but I know that was the fact.
In other words, without consultation with him, he was recommended by the man that we regard as the outstanding jurist and lawyer of Maryland, for this position.
We have got on our court, Mr. Chairman, three judges. The youngest of those judges is 70 years of age. He is the chief judge, Judge Parker. The next one is Judge Armistead Dobie, who is 75; and the third one, who is myself, who enjoys the age of 83. And we need help.
Senator O'MAHONEY. May I say that nobody would believe it if you did not state it.
Senator WATKINS. I will join with you in that, Mr. Chairman. Judge SOPER. I have come to that position in life when I boast about it, Mr. Chairman.
But I am here, sir, to speak not merely as a friend of Judge Sobeloff and a long acquaintance and one who is obligated to him for services rendered to me personally and professionally, but I am here speaking for the members of this court. I voice the sentiments of Judge Parker, the chief judge, with whom I have been associated for 25 years, and of Judge Dobie of the opposite political party, if that means anything-with whom I have been associated for 17 years.
We are all anxious to have Judge Sobeloff as a member of our court. We know his capacity as a lawyer. We know that he will strengthen us and, incidentally, we hope he will do some of the work that we qualified retired judges are carrying on without assistance.
In other words, Mr. Chairman, I could go much further than all of this, but there are other people here.
I want to point out this significant fact: that at the beginning of this man's career, I was in close personal and professional contact with him. I knew him thoroughly, and have throughout the ensuing 40 years. Now, at the close of my career, I want to say that I am happy to be with him again, and I would like to be on intimate and professional and official terms with him as a colleague.
Senator O'MAHONEY. You are familiar, then, with his reputation as a lawyer?
Judge SOPER. I am not only familiar with his reputation, but I am familiar with him personally, and his character as a man and his status in the profession. I recommend him unqualifiedly. I know of no reason, personal or professional, why he should not be appointed.
Senator O'MAHONEY. What is his reputation as to integrity and ability as a lawyer?
Judge SOPER. It is of the highest. If I didn't think so, I would not have joined with others, for example, in recommending him for the United States attorney in 1930. I actively asked that he might be appointed.
And certainly I wouldn't be here today, sir, asking to have him made a member of our court, if I didn't have the highest regard for his character and his ability.
Senator O'MAHONEY. I will ask you the same question I have asked the Maryland Senators: Do you know of any reason why he should not be confirmed as a judge of the court of which you are a member? Judge SOPER. I know of no such reason. I have every reason to think that he should be confirmed.
One other small contribution I could make, at least it occurs to me only because it has been mentioned in this hearing, and that is that while I had nothing whatever to do with the Baltimore Trust Co. case, concerning which you have had some communications, I do know the circumstances under which Judge Sobeloff was appointed by Judge O'Dunne, a man for whom I have the utmost friendship and confidence, to carry on work for the court.
The appointment came, not from Mr. Sobeloff or any lawyers or any clients, but because Judge O'Dunne had confidence in him and he needed in this complicated situation somebody who would make a
thorough search. I know personally that Mr. Sobeloff at that time was reluctant to do it, because he came and talked with me about it as an old friend.
He was asked to do what might be called a dirty job in some respects. He was asked to investigate into the conduct and actions of the leading business and financial men of Baltimore, who were on this committee, on the directorship of the trust company.
It was not a grateful job for any lawyer who had his future to make, to accept willingly. He accepted it reluctantly, and I know from my personal contacts with Judge O'Dunne that he did a magnificent job.
There is nothing else, Mr. Chairman, that I think of to say at the moment, but of course I should be glad to answer any questions. Senator O'MAHONEY. Senator Watkins, do you have any questions? Senator WATKINS. I haven't any questions.
Senator O'MAHONEY. Thank you very much, Judge Soper. We are very much indebted to you.
Judge Reuben Oppenheimer, associate judge of the Supreme Bench of Baltimore City, and president of the Maryland State Bar Asso
STATEMENT OF JUDGE REUBEN OPPENHEIMER, ASSOCIATE JUDGE, SUPREME BENCH OF BALTIMORE CITY, AND PRESIDENT, MARYLAND STATE BAR ASSOCIATION
Judge OPPENHEIMER. Senator.
Senator O'MAHONEY. Judge Oppenheimer.
Judge OPPENHEIMER. On behalf of the Maryland State Bar Association, I urge the confirmation of Mr. Sobeloff for judge of the United States court of appeals.
Our association, which is comprised of lawyers and judges all over the State of Maryland, takes with the utmost seriousness its responsibilities to the bench and bar and to the Senate of the United States in suggesting judges for appointment.
Mr. Sobeloff was on the list of those we suggested. On his appointment, our association at its full winter meeting last January unanimously again recommended and urged his appointment.
Our members, and I myself, are familiar with his character, his ability, his record, and our unanimous recommendation for his confirmation is based upon that knowledge.
Maryland is a small State. The lawyers and judges know each other. They know when a man has well and honorably and ably performed his duties.
I know of no man who has had a more distinguished, a more varied career in city, State, and Federal service, than Mr. Sobeloff, and no man who has performed every responsibility cast upon him with greater ability or greater integrity. He has earned the confidence of the bench and bar of Maryland, and it is a privilege to appear before you to voice that unanimous confidence.
Senator O'MAHONEY. You are familiar with the charges with respect to the Baltimore Trust Co. ?
Judge OPPENHEIMER. I read the charges when they were made in the paper. The chairman of our judiciary committee is here, and his committee went into that matter.
But may I say this, that it was after those charges were made that our membership unanimously endorsed Mr. Sobeloff for the second time; and I may say this, also, that in Maryland, as in other States, we have the highest standards for our officials. I assure you, sir, that Mr. Sobeloff would never have even been considered or recommended for the subsequent positions of high honor which he held had not the lawyers felt that he had discharged every position with the utmost fidelity, and that his record as a lawyer, as an official, and subsequently as a judge, was in the highest tradition of our State.
Senator O'MAHONEY. Do you know of any reason whatever why he should not be confirmed by this committee?
Judge OPPENHEIMER. I do not. But I do know of every reason, sir, why we think he should be.
Senator O'MAHONEY. Any questions, Senator?
Senator WATKINS. No questions, thank you.
Senator O'MAHONEY. Thank you very much.
Mr. Howard C. Bregel, president of the Baltimore City Bar Asso
Let the record show that these witnesses are being called at the request of Senator Butler and of Senator Beall.
STATEMENT OF HOWARD C. BREGEL, PRESIDENT, BALTIMORE CITY BAR ASSOCIATION
Mr. BREGEL. Mr. Chairman, I am here in behalf of the Baltimore City Bar Association, of which I am the president, and to add the endorsement of our association to the nomination of General Sobeloff.
To demonstrate the interest of our association, we have with us today almost the entire executive committee of the bar association. We have the secretary, Mr. James H. Cook; Mr. H. Paul Rome, the chairman of the judiciary committee; Mr. Doughas N. Sharretts, Mr. Morton J. Hollander, Mr. E. Paul Mason, Jr., Mr. Paul Berman.
I would like at this time to call on, with your permission, the chairman of our judiciary committee, Mr. Rome, to speak in behalf of the bar association.
Senator O'MAHONEY. Mr. Rome?
Senator WATKINS. Do you want to make any further statement? Mr. BREGEL. Unless there are some questions.
Senator O'MAHONEY. Then may I ask you the questions I have addressed to the other witnesses.
Are you familiar with the charge which has been brought here with respect to an alleged conflict of interest
Mr. BREGEL. Yes, sir.
Senator O'MAHONEY (continuing). By the nominee?
Mr. BREGEL. Yes, sir.
Senator O'MAHONEY. In the administration of certain duties in connection with the Baltimore Trust Co.?
Mr. BREGEL. Yes, sir; I am.
Senator O'MAHONEY. Do you know of any reason why, in connection with those services, the nominee should not be confirmed? Mr. BREGEL. No reason whatsoever, sir.
Senator O'MAHONEY. Would you care to express your opinion as to the manner in which the services were performed?