Welcome to a special edition of the eBulletin. More in-depth coverage of the UK - U.S. Legal Exchange will arrive in printed form via the Journal
UK - U.S. Legal Exchange A 'Great Success'
Participants Discuss Issues Common To Both Countries
Photo by: Steve Petteway, Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States
On September 15, the College-sponsored 2015-2016 United Kingdom-United States Legal Exchange convened its second conference.  Our British guests, including two justices of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom, two judges from the Court of Appeal for England and Wales, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Scotland, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Northern Ireland, one trial judge of the High Court, two barristers and a law professor, joined their U.S. counterparts at the College’s Annual Meeting in Philadelphia for the Saturday morning General Session. The British delegates, moderated by the U.S. delegate judges, briefly reprised the discussions that took place at the Exchange’s first conference in London last September. The topics of discussion in 2015 were Terrorism and “Secret Courts;” Access to Justice; and the Foundations of Federalism. U.S. delegate Honorable Stephen G. Breyer, Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, also offered remarks at the Annual Meeting about the importance of the Exchange in an increasingly global world that requires knowing how other countries – especially the United Kingdom – are dealing with issues that are common to all.

On Sunday, a day of rest, the two delegations visited the Rodin and Barnes Museums.  On Monday, the work of the Exchange began in earnest. The first two days of discussion were in Philadelphia, the last two in Washington, D.C.  This year there were four discussion topics:  Freedom of Speech; the Right to Privacy; Terrorism; and “Where Angels Fear to Tread” (which examined the increasing participation of domestic courts in matters once thought to belong to the executive and/or legislative branches). The barristers and College Fellows who were members of their respective delegations produced white papers on each of the topics, which were then discussed in the four morning sessions of the Exchange.  In the afternoons, the delegates visited Independence Hall and the American Philosophical Society founded by Benjamin Franklin in Philadelphia and Mt. Vernon and the Capitol in Washington. A highlight was a re-enactment in the courtroom at Independence Hall of arguments in the case of State of Georgia v. Brailsford, 3 U.S. 1 (1794), a post-Revolutionary War dispute that pitted victorious American debtors against a former British creditor. Chief Justice of the U.S. John Roberts traveled to Philadelphia to preside, and was joined by U.S. delegates Honorable Samuel Alito, Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court and Justice Breyer for the panel of judges.  Four Fellows of the College (William T. Hangley, Linda Dale Hoffa, Alfred W. Putnam, Jr. and Paul Mark Sandler) argued to a jury composed of the British judicial delegates.  

Chief Justice Roberts later hosted the Exchange for dinner at the Supreme Court in Washington on Wednesday evening and at a farewell lunch on Thursday. The final event was a reception and dinner at the British Embassy on Thursday evening, where the British Ambassador, Sir Kim Darroch, welcomed the Exchange. In responding for the U.S., Justice Breyer gave a toast, printed below, that emphasized once again the importance of the Exchanges in allowing judges of our two countries to form not just professional relationships but also personal ones that foster increased understanding.

The Exchange was first implemented in 1971, when then-Chief Justice Warren E. Burger requested the College to provide a forum for discussion of issues of common interest to U.K. and U.S. judges.  Eleven Exchanges have now taken place, all sponsored by the College. The trial lawyer members of the U.S. delegation have always been drawn from the ranks of the College.
Toast From Justice Breyer

“This exchange has been a great success. Why? What accounts for our ability so well to understand, and to learn from each other?   

It helps that we have long shared certain highly general, somewhat personal, understandings about the nature of our judicial work:

We hope to transmit to the future, the history, learning and traditions of the past, in a form that helps them remain relevant and helpful to the resolution of problems presented by our ever-changing world.

We remain committed to the kind of clear, critical thought that will at the least help us separate sense from nonsense.

We interpret and apply principles of human liberty, including the rule of law, that from the time of the great charter at Runneymede have so profoundly influenced our free societies.

Our professional work calls for thought but not thought alone. It is thought in the service of principle - principle that calls for the use of both head and heart.

We are engaged in public service, putting our talents and abilities to work, we hope, for the benefit of others who live in our society.

Taken together these characteristics, these goals, imply a seriousness of purpose that informs and inspires our shared judicial lives.

Sharing these values, we have in the past few days had a conversation -- of the kind that Michael Oakeshott described. He said that in the context of the "pursuit of learning" a "conversation" is not an argument; its "tone is neither tyrannous nor plangent;" it has "no predetermined course;" we do not "judge its excellence by its conclusion" for "it has no conclusion;" its interest "springs from the quality of the voices which speak, and its value lies in the relics it leaves behind in the minds of those who participate.”

This is the kind of conversation we have had, and in the course of that conversation we have become friends.

So, I toast with thanks the American College of Trial Lawyers for its sponsorship of this Exchange. I thank the judges and lawyers for their participation. I thank the staff for their excellent work. And, I thank the Ambassador and Embassy for this dinner and for much else besides.”

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