An annual RWU Law tradition is a trip to Washington, D.C. that includes a reception for area alumni and a group swearing-in of alums at the Supreme Court of the United States. This year the ceremony added a wonderful new aspect: a session with Associate Justice Samuel Alito, who graciously visited us at breakfast before the swearing-in and arguments for the day. Below is a reflection on that memorable day by Peter Pascucci (‘03). Peter is a Lieutenant Commander in the Navy JAG Corps, stationed at the Pentagon and serves as Deputy Legal Counsel to the Vice Chief of Naval Operations.
Having started my legal career at RWU, it was only fitting that I take the next step with my former classmates. Being sworn-in at the Supreme Court prior to an argument was a wonderful and humbling experience. This was my fifth time attending argument at the Court, with three of them being on cases that I had been involved with in various aspects. This time, even though I was not arguing, had not been involved in the cases being argued, and had to do nothing more than stand when my name was called and say "I do" at the appropriate time, I was nervous. It is inspiring and a bit intimidating to sit in that small chamber, less than thirty feet from the Chief Justice and the Court and to witness firsthand the top of the judicial branch in action.
The attorneys arguing before the Court were presumably at a pinnacle of their career. While I am not a litigator and am not likely to ever have the opportunity to argue before the Court, every attorney should witness oral argument before the Supreme Court. It is truly oral advocacy at its best and is one of the few places in the legal world where the facts of a particular case do no more than inform how the law should be interpreted. The case is as much about future cases as it is about the facts at hand and this was prevalent in the two oral arguments occurring that day.
Amplifying the experience was the breakfast in the East Conference room prior to argument. Justice Alito stopped by to offer some words of encouragement. To my surprise, he shared basic details of the cases we were about to hear and previewed what he intended to ask the attorneys during oral argument. That glimpse, albeit brief, into the thought process of a justice was fascinating. He clearly was looking to determine not only the proper outcome of the case at bar, but how the decision would impact future cases.
Being sworn-in to the Supreme Court with my fellow RWU Law alumni on the motion of Professor Bruce Kogan was a befitting continuation of RWU Law's commitment to my professional development. Reconnecting with my former classmates and seeing the diverse practice areas we work in highlighted the quality of the education we received. I look forward to participating in more RWU Law alumni events and if any of you come back down to D.C. I would love to show you around town.
Here are some pics from this wonderful event and the reception for our DC-area alumni that preceded it.
Mark Romley '04; Sara Sweeney '07; Katharine Allen '99; Rui Alves '05;
Amanda Beth Mertens '05; Associate Justice of Supreme Court of the
United States Samuel Alito; Joseph Ranone '05; Louise Marcus '03;
Susan Rossi Cook '01; Peter Pascucci '03; and Nicole (Dulude) Benjamin '06.
Sara Sweeney'07, Taylor, Duane, Barton & Gilman, Dean David A. Logan
and Nicole (Dulude) Benjamin'06, Adler Pollock & Sheehan, P.C.
Sara Sieverding, Katharine Reed Allen'99, Law Offices of Katharine R. Allen, P.C.
with Assistant Dean of Career Services Anthony Bastone
Christina Hoefsmit'10, Coast Guard Fellowship, Ashley Ham Pong'10,
Capitol Area Immigrants' Rights Commission, and
Hala Furst'10, U.S. Department of Homeland Security
Lucy Holmes Plovnick'02, Partner at Mitchell Silberberg & Knupp,
Susan Rossi Cook'01, John Cook and Tom Shaffer'98,
Director of Admissions at RWU School of Law
Joseph Ranone'05, Joseph Ranone Attorney at Law, Rita Alves,
and Rui Alves'05, Alves Law.
Professor of Law Bruce Kogan and Lucy Homes Plovnick'02