Peter Marshall (1981-82)

Justice Abrahamson officiated at many of her clerks' weddings, including Peter Marshall's.
Justice Abrahamson officiated at many of her clerks’ weddings, including Peter Marshall’s.

In reading the notes from other clerks I was struck by two things.  First, Justice Abrahamson certainly had some kind of magic touch when officiating over her clerks’ nuptials.  Earlier this year Roberta and I celebrated our 40th wedding anniversary.

Second, like many of her other clerks, Justice Abrahamson taught me how to write – really write.  I had to chuckle when I read Peter Chen’s description of arriving in chambers one morning after a late night to find his latest draft rearranged and in pieces on the floor.  One of my most indelible memories of my time with Justice Abrahamson is the sound of the librarian’s shears that she used to dissect my drafts.  I would arrive in the morning to the “swish-swish-swish” sound of sharpened metal on paper and the realization that what I thought was somewhat articulate and polished was not even close. 

It is difficult to encapsulate everything that Justice Abrahamson taught me about good writing.  However over time a few things stick out.  Every single word matters.  Lazy thinking leads to lazy writing.  Finally, if you think you have an immediate and simple solution to an issue you probably have not thought it through.  It is only after you have ground through the full complexity of an issue that you can achieve understanding and hopefully arrive at a simple and elegant resolution.

On a personal note.  I can now say that after practicing law for 35 years, Marj Riley was the only person who was ever able to decipher my handwriting.  Marj was either a savant, or Justice Abrahamson’s handwriting was as bad as mine, or both!

Thank you, Justice Abrahamson, for fighting diligently every day of your entire career to preserve justice in the State of Wisconsin.  No one has done more.  Thanks for all that you have given to me and to your other clerks along the way.