Tribute to Judge Rabinowitz

CitationVol. 15
Publication year1998

§ 15 Alaska L. Rev. 201. Tribute to Judge Rabinowitz

Alaska Law Review
Volume 15
Cited: 15 Alaska L. Rev. 201


Tribute to Judge Rabinowitz


CHIEF JUSTICE WARREN W. MATTHEWS


This is truly a remarkable evening. It is without precedent in the history of Alaska. I thank the musicians and the organizers and the other speakers, but you should know that for those of us who are presently on the Alaska Supreme Court, this is, at best, a bittersweet occasion. It marks the end of the career of the man who has been our mentor, and our friend since each of us came to the court.

In my case, this is an association that has continued for twenty years. You have heard from the other speakers and, of course, you know that Jay is a warm and witty, caring human being. What I can add based on a vantage that is unique to myself and my colleagues and Jay's former colleagues, is that Jay has been a truly great justice. He has a first rate intellect, he has compassion, he has understanding of human foibles and failures, he has imagination. He's a skillful and rapid writer. These qualities he has, and these qualities are needed, but there is another thing as important.

It is, to use a dated expression, that Jay Rabinowitz is a grind. That is, he's a tremendously hard worker. Being a justice on the Alaska Supreme Court is an interesting job, it's the job that lots of people, lots of very highly qualified people seek. But it is not a glamorous job. To do it right, all of the briefs in every case must be read, and read with understanding. And hundreds of pages of record and transcript also have to be absorbed with understanding. We have 600 new cases a year. Each one requires individualized attention. Opinions must be drafted, the opinions of other justices have to be voted on and critiqued. Dissents have to be written. More than a 1000 motions a year are ruled on. And then there are the rules. Too many rules revisions, some say, but it's very time consuming. And there is also, of course, administration. During our most intensive period of work, which is when we hold oral argument, we commonly have to read more than 300 pages of briefs every day. And it's hard, time consuming work, it's work that you take home, and it's work you stay with for long hours in the evening.

[*pg 202] All of this Jay has done, done with retained interest without...

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