How Much Have We Lost?

Monday, August 11, 2014

Judge Martin V.B. Bostetter, Jr.

When I got out of law school, the economy was still in the doldrums.  The firm seemed to have a few post-divorce bankruptcies coming through and the partners needed someone to figure them out so it fell to the new guy - me.  That's how I became a bankruptcy lawyer among other things.

At the time, there were two judges in the Alexandria Division Courthouse - Stephen Mitchell and the Chief Judge - Martin V.B. Bostetter, Jr.  I went on to try a few cases to both of them.

Last week, I learned of the passing of Judge Bostetter at the age of 88.

While I did not practice regularly before him and only practice before him for three of his forty years on the bench, I will never forget the day I was sworn in.


To become a member of the bar of a federal court, you have to certify that you've read all the rules and the local rules.  I actually did this.

My partner, John Cummins, moved my admission to the bear before Judge Bostetter.  Normally, the judge asks you a few questions about your law school, makes a joke about your boss, etc.  Judge Bostetter thought it would be appropriate to cross examine me about my effort preparing for my swearing in.

After looking me over he said, "now you better have read those rules because if you walk into my courtroom and you don't know the law and you don't know the rules, I'll tell you that, and make a fool of you in here right in front of your client!  Got it?" While thinking (holy crap), I said, "uh huh."

With that, he made a big smile and said "welcome to Bankruptcy Court!"

Good advice.  

He served as a U.S. Bankruptcy Judge from 1959 until 1999.  He was Chief Judge for the entire Eastern District including Richmond and Norfolk from 1985 until his retirement.  He was among the longest to ever serve.  The courthouse in Alexandria on South Washington Street is named for him.

Rest in Peace. 

1 comment:

  1. I was his courtroom clerk for the last five years he was on the bench, and remember well the swearing ins - but even more the instances where attorneys didn't heed the admonition. True to his word, Judge Bostetter would get on an attorney's case in a heartbeat if there was a hint of him/her not being prepared.

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