the defense rests.
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When our father retired, we sons had a vexing problem: How do you find the perfect retirement gift for a dedicated and respected defense lawyer? Something simply nice — a gold watch, a pocketbook — but unpertaining to his brilliant career seemed less than right. But what is there that does pertain? (Nicole Miller was firmly out of the question.) We cast around for quite a while until it hit us: a new, specially commissioned artwork by a prominent artist. But what artist, and what subject matter?
Two of the great themes of Dad's life and career jumped out at me immediately: commitment to God, and commitment to defend the poorest and most despised outcasts of our society from the heavy — and often unjust — hand of the government. So, perhaps a Bible passage about defending these people might do the trick. I found just such a passage in the eighty-second Psalm:
Defend the cause of the weak and fatherless
Once that had been decided, the artist was an obvious choice: Brother Cletus, a monk with a hip and successful art gallery. He has a sure eye and a social conscience. His specialty is the brand of modernism that, seemingly, Catholics navigate best: uncompromising and un-naff, yet resonant with people of traditional taste.
He and I exchanged a single call and a single fax. My only direction was the scripture passage itself: all else was up to him. He took it and ran. Three months later, we had a new artwork on our hands.
Meanwhile, I'd mentioned the psalm to one of Dad's co-workers, Henry, an idealistic young lawyer who headed up the retirement shindig. At the shindig, after numerous lawyers, secretaries, judges, and (gulp) U.S. Marshals gave moving tributes to Dad's dedication to protecting our eroding constitutional rights, as well as his integrity and kindness, both in the courtroom and around the office, Henry read the passage aloud to a silent audience. The Bible he read from was the one he found on Dad's desk, where it had sat for over 20 years.
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