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CHAPTER 8 A Thirty-Two-Month Learning Experience When I became US attorney, one of the first people I went to for advice was eighty-eight-year-old Federal Court of Appeals Judge Morris A. Soper.1 It was a wise move. Judge Soper had held my job a half century earlier, from 1900 to 1909. He was a man with incredible experience and a brilliant career of public service. “I’ll tell you, the most important thing you’ll ever do as US attorney ,” he forcefully told me in that first meeting, “is to pick the best possible assistants—really qualified, great assistants.” To be successful, he insisted, I needed to surround myself with lawyers who were at least as qualified as I. Of the young lawyers I recruited or retained, one later became attorney general for the United States; one became US attorney for Maryland , attorney general for Maryland, and a candidate for governor of Maryland; one became a US district judge in Maryland; another became a special assistant attorney general for Maryland; and two became state circuit court judges (or their equivalent) in Maryland. One became a nationally recognized trial lawyer, another chaired the Legislative Black Caucus in the Maryland House of Delegates, and others became prominent state trial attorneys and partners in major law firms. One of the carryover assistants I persuaded to stay was John R. Hargrove Sr., who in 1957 had become the first African American assistant 1. Soper, first appointed to the federal bench by President Warren G. Harding in 1923, was by 1961 serving on senior status with the Fourth US Circuit Court of Appeals. Although the Fourth Circuit was based in Richmond, Virginia, Judge Soper maintained chambers in the old Post Office Building on the northwest corner of Calvert and Fayette in Baltimore, which also housed the federal courts, the FBI, the postal inspectors, and the US attorney’s offices. 97 A THIRTY-TWO-MONTH LEARNING EXPERIENCE intheoffice.HewaswhatyouwouldcallaLincolnRepublican.Ielevated him to chief assistant with the responsibility to train us all—including myself—to be federal prosecutors. I also wanted John to run the office, because I intended to try major cases myself. John was a fine lawyer but no firebrand. He was a “go slow,” “go carefully,” “do your job” pro who loved to try cases. He was a perfect mentor for my young, brilliant, exuberant —but inexperienced—staff and a tremendous resource for me, a neophyte US attorney.2 Even though John was the second-ranking US Justice Department official in Maryland, that did not shield him from the indignities of racial segregation in Baltimore and across the South in 1961. About the only places near our office where African Americans would be served meals were Read’s Drug Store or the staff cafeteria at the nearby Internal Revenue Service (IRS) office. A number of my assistants would go with John to lunch at one of those places or they would bring in brown bag lunches and eat with him in the office to save him from the embarrassment of having to confront that awful reality. I was also lucky to inherit Beatrice “Bea” Hudson, an outstanding office manager and personal secretary. Bea was a solid “right hand”— the equivalent of another Hargrove. In fact, when I went to the Senate in Washington, I offered to double Bea’s salary if she would work for me there, but she did not want to leave her job in Baltimore. We furnished my office with a hide-a-bed couch that I used whenever I worked too late to drive home. Bea would wake me up when she arrived around 7:30 a.m. and I would shower downstairs in the chambers of Judge Edward S. Northrop, an old friend from the General Assembly who had just been appointed a federal judge. This schedule enabled me to work an extra three hours a day, which became important when trying major cases. I can still remember using my office to change into my tuxedo before departing for formal events at the White House. Another excellent carryover assistant was Arnold M. Weiner, whom my predecessor, Leon Pierson, had first appointed in 1958. At the end of my first year, Arnold returned to private practice, but within a year I 2. Beginning in 1974, Hargrove served as a judge on two different courts in the city of Baltimore. He was appointed as judge of the US District Court for the District of Maryland by...


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