By ANNE L. MERCER
The Friends of the Law Library of Congress presented the 2000 Wickersham Award for "exceptional public service and dedication to the legal profession" to Charles F.C. Ruff on March 28.
In the Chamber of the Supreme Court, Mr. Ruff was recognized for his remarkable legal career, which has combined public service at the highest levels, zealous and effective representation of clients in private practice, the teaching of law and legal scholarship and a commitment to the profession.
At the dinner in the Supreme Court Great Hall, Associate Supreme Court Justice Stephen G. Breyer welcomed the group to the court and reminisced about his association with Mr. Ruff. The event was hosted again this year by Gail Littlejohn, senior vice president for government affairs of Lexis-Nexis.
Following dinner, the group moved to the court's chambers, where they were welcomed by Law Librarian Rubens Medina. "Once again, it is an honor and a pleasure for me to welcome you back to these historic chambers for what to us in the Law Library of Congress has become the event of the year, the Wickersham Award Dinner. We are proud, and it is fitting, that this institution -- the Law Library of Congress, an integral part of the legal and lawmaking tradition of this country -- is associated with this great tradition."
Tributes to Mr. Ruff were offered by three longtime associates. Associate Deputy Attorney General David Margolis offered remarks in behalf of Eric Holder Jr., deputy attorney general of the United States, who was unable to attend. He was followed by Charles Miller who has worked with Mr. Ruff at Covington & Burling for many years, and Lloyd N. Cutler, of Wilmer, Cutler & Pickering, who was himself the award winner in 1996. All three spoke with affection and humor and related personal experiences from working with Mr. Ruff during his varied career. This included his role as the last special prosecutor in the Watergate investigations, his work as the second-ranking official of the Department of Justice and his time heading both of the District of Columbia's public law offices -- serving as U.S. attorney and as Corporation Counsel. He became known most recently to the nation while serving as counsel to the president. His handling of President Clinton's defense in the impeachment trial won him praise on both sides of the aisle.
Following the remarks, Abe Krash, president of the Friends and master of ceremonies, presented the award and Mr. Ruff thanked the speakers for their warm remarks.
Among those in attendance from the Library of Congress were Daniel J. Boorstin, Librarian of Congress Emeritus; Prosser Gifford, director of the Office of Scholarly Programs; Daniel Mulhollan, director of the Congressional Research Service; Elizabeth Pugh, general counsel; David Sale, director of legal research; and Winston Tabb, associate librarian for Library Services. Also in attendance were William T. Coleman Jr., the 1997 Wickersham Award winner; David Leebron, dean of Columbia Law School, Mr. Ruff's alma mater; James P. Hoffa, president of the Teamsters Union; David Kendall, counsel to the president; and the executive director of the American Association of Law Libraries, Roger Parent, together with the president-elect of the association, Robert L. Oakley of the Georgetown University Law Center.
The Law Library of Congress is the largest and most comprehensive source of legal information in the world and a research center for foreign, international and comparative law. The Friends of the Law Library of Congress is a national nonprofit group that encourages awareness of and support for the Law Library. The Wickersham Award is named for George Wickersham (1858-1936), who, with other noted jurists, attorneys and scholars, conceived the Friends as a way to help build a great national law library. Wickersham was a partner in the firm of Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft, a benefactor at this year's dinner.
Two additional benefactors providing major support for the 2000 Wickersham Award dinner were Lexis Publishing and West Group. Patron supporters were BNA Inc., Covington & Burling, and Wilmer, Cutler & Pickering.
Ms. Mercer is the executive director of the Friends of the Law Library. For more information about the Friends or the Wickersham Award, contact her at (202) 707-5076.