By ANNE L. MERCER
The Friends of the Law Library of Congress presented the 2001 Wickersham Award for "exceptional public service and dedication to the legal profession" to Talbot "Sandy" D'Alemberte, president of Florida State University, on March 27.
In the Chamber of the U.S. Supreme Court, Mr. D'Alemberte was recognized for the diverse and important array of initiatives that he has been involved in during his career as a lawyer, state legislator, bar association official, professor and university president.
During the reception in the Supreme Court's Great Hall, Associate Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor welcomed the group to the court and reminisced about her association with Mr. D'Alemberte. Law Librarian of Congress Rubens Medina, also welcoming the attendees, remarked that the "Law Library of Congress, which has a truly global outlook, as expressed in our collections and the diversity of our staff, is particularly pleased that the Wickersham Award is going to an individual who has demonstrated a similar dedication to the more universal dimensions of law as evidenced by his central role in founding the Central and Eastern European Law Initiative."
Mr. D'Alemberte was the president of the American Bar Association in 1991-1992 and, together with Homer Moyer, co-founded the Central Eastern European Law Initiative at that time. CEELI, a project of the ABA, is based on the principle that American lawyers can offer help in establishing human rights and effective legal institutions in the countries of the former Eastern Bloc and the former Soviet Union.
Following dinner the group moved to the court's chamber, where several friends and associates of Mr. D'Alemberte offered tributes. Robert Stein, executive director of the American Bar Association, made the opening remarks. He was followed by John T. Casteen III, president of the University of Virginia, who linked the two universities by reminding the audience that one of the founders of Florida State was Thomas Jefferson's granddaughter. The publisher of the St. Petersburg Times, Andrew Barnes, recalled a trying time when Mr. D'Alemberte assisted the newspaper with an important case.
Mr. D'Alemberte's co-founder in CEELI, Homer Moyer of Miller & Chevalier, tried to remember whose idea it was to create CEELI. "The truth, which you must never repeat," said Mr. Moyer, "is that it was Sandy's." Sen. Bob Graham (D-Fla.) discussed working in the Florida House of Representatives with Mr. D'Alembetre. F. Chesterfield Smith, who described both himself and Mr. D'Alemberte as "lawyers from small towns," made a humorous and engaging tribute to his long-time friend and protégé.
Following the remarks, Abe Krash, president of the Friends and master of ceremonies, presented the award, and Mr. D'Alemberte offered his thanks and gratitude for the warm remarks offered by the speakers.
Members of the dinner's honorary committee who attended included William T. Coleman Jr., winner of the 1997 Wickersham Award; Dean Katherine Broderick, David A. Clarke School of Law at the University of the District of Columbia; Dean Robert Destro, Columbus School of Law at Catholic University of America; Dean Claudio Grossman, Washington College of Law at American University; and Dean Michael Young, George Washington University Law School. Dean Donald Weidner of the Florida State University College of Law was one of several attendees who made the trip from Tallahassee to attend this special evening.
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.
Three additional benefactors providing major support for the 2001 Wickersham Award dinner were Congressional Quarterly Inc. and the St. Petersburg Times, Lexis-Nexis and West Group. Patron supporters were BNA Inc. and Dun & Bradstreet.
Ms. Mercer is the executive director of the Friends of the Law Library of Congress. For more information about the Friends or the Wickersham Award, contact her at (202) 707-5076.