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Tweets For Justice:


Legal Giant Clint Bamberger Passes Away in Baltimore, Before Having First Valentine’s Day Alone in 64 Years

February 14, 2017 @ 2:10 pm

A giant of the law, Clint Bamberger, passed away in Baltimore, Maryland on February 12, 2017, after a life-time of helping the poor, inspiring students, and living his faith through the practice of social justice, and just 2 days before his first Valentine’s Day alone in 64 years.

I last saw Clint and his wife, Katharine, in their condo in Baltimore a couple of years ago. I knew he had been the first director, in the 1960s, of the nationwide Legal Services Corporation which provides legal services to the poor, appointed by President Johnson.

Clint Bamberger and Robert J. Gaudet, Jr. on May 4, 2015 at the Bamberger residence in Baltimore, Maryland

I did not know (as described in the Baltimore Sun article below) that Clint had argued the Brady case in the Supreme Court. It established the super-famous rule that prosecutors must disclose exculpatory evidence to the defense. That case actually helped one of my former clients, Edwin P. Wilson, who was prosecuted and put in jail for over 20 years after prosecutors withheld exculpatory evidence contrary to the Brady decision. When this was disclosed years later, Edwin Wilson used the Brady decision to vacate his decision and get out of jail after over 20 years. We then represented Edwin Wilson in a lawsuit against the former prosecutors and complainant (many of whom had become federal judges despite having broken the Brady rule as prosecutors years earlier, and one is now a partner at a prestigious D.C. law firm). Our case was dismissed on the grounds of prosecutorial immunity although one person, Stanley Sporkin (former CIA executive director), could have been on the hook, as a defendant, since he was not a prosecutor but claims against him were voluntarily dismissed. So, this Brady decision is super-huge in importance and Clint apparently argued it before the Supreme Court. It would not be a decision today if it were not for Clint’s perseverance in taking the case.

I did not know that Clint was the former Dean of Catholic University law school. I did not know that he helped set up legal aid services in South Africa around 1994, about a year after I had worked in South Africa.

Clint spent his life teaching and helping the poor, driven by his Catholic faith, (aside from the years he worked at Piper Marbury as a partner on presumably corporate matters … but he told me that’s why they later picked him to head the Legal Services Corporation – because he was a buttoned-down partner at an established law firm. That firm, which was perhaps the most famous in Baltimore, has now merged into what is now DLA Piper.)

Robert J. Gaudet, Jr.; Katherine Kelehar (Clint’s wife); and Clint Bamberger at the Bamberger residence on May 4, 2015 in Baltimore

[Pictured: Robert J. Gaudet, Jr.; Katharine Kelhehar; Clint Bamberger; May 4, 2015; at the Bamberger home in Baltimore]

When my wife (Karin Gaudet-Asmus) and I last visited Clint and his wife in their assisted living condo in or near Roland Park, about two years ago, Clint seemed frail but he could walk around with a little bit of trouble. I was worried about his health. But he was as gracious as ever. We were late so we unfortunately missed the food that had been available in the dining hall. I believe his wife, Katharine, made something at the spur of the moment. They were kind to entertain us as visitors and share family news and discuss social justice and events which, at the time, involved the riots in Baltimore for which Karin and I served as legal observers with the National Lawyers Guild. I always found Clint inspiring and full of integrity.

The article, below, says Clint’s wife, Katharine, passed away in December 2016. That is very sad. In 2015, she seemed much younger and healthier when we last saw them together; she helped him walk and get around; and she advised him to take it easy although he was enthusiastic and vigorous as a host. Over the past several days, before his passing, I can only imagine that he might have had tremendous grief in anticipating his first Valentine’s Day alone in over 64 years.

In a visit around 2001 or 2001 to Clint and Katharine’s previous condo at the Inner Harbor (which, I think, the father of my high school classmate, Leo D’Aleo, had built), while I was in law school and figuring out where to move to make a difference, I remember Clint told me that Baltimore was a “dying city” and advised me not to return. I was hoping for some links to class action lawyers or social justice lawyers in Baltimore. But I took his words to heart. I looked into some options in Baltimore but never heard back, e.g. from the Angelos law firm. Unlike defense firms, plaintiff’s and social justice firms do not recruit at top law schools across the country. I was offered a summer position at Piper Marbury (where Clint was once a partner int he 1960s, now called DLA Piper) but I did not want to defend Microsoft against antitrust suits, etc., so I turned it down. In retrospect, maybe I should have looked harder into returning to Baltimore. The fact that it was a “dying city” was no reason not to return. If anything, it might indicate there was an even greater need for new lawyers who, in the mold of Clint, could help the vulnerable and dispossessed.

When I entered the law profession, people like Clint and Jack Greenberg (former dean of my undergraduate college at Columbia University) are what I had in mind. They are what I expected from the profession – changing the world, helping the poor and vulnerable. They are the lights of our profession. Sadly, since becoming a lawyer, I have not met very many lawyers like them, with the same devotion, understanding of real people’s troubles, concern for the world, empathy, ambition to do better for everyone, drive, sense of camaraderie with like-minded spirits. I hope I can remember to follow the example set by Clint and try to carry a small piece of the torch.

Thank you, Michael Susko, for introducing me to him.  I am glad you got to know him through the Catholic church in Baltimore, a place that nourished both of you in your faith to care for others and help the vulnerable as a way of life. This example of Clint’s life is the strongest testament to the immense power that faith can have if one actually lives out one’s beliefs.   -Robert J. Gaudet, Jr.

Karin Gaudet-Asmus; Katherine Kelehar; and Clint Bamberger at the Bamberger residence on May 4, 2015 in Baltimore. Around this time, Karin and Robert served as legal observers for the National Lawyers Guild in Baltimore during the time of unrest

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