We heard today of Clint Bamberger’s death, at age 90. The New York Times obituary focuses mainly on his landmark Supreme Court case of Betts v. Brady, establishing the obligation on prosecutors to disclose exculpatory evidence.
But for generations of lawyers committed to access to justice, that case, while critical, is far from the most important piece of his massive legacy. As one of the tiny group of visionaries who envisioned the original legal services program, as its first director, as a founder of clinical legal education, as one of the founders of Harvard’s Legal Services Center, as one of the originators of the Reginald Huber Smith fellowship program, and as an endless advocate for innovation and access, Clint really was the trailblazer who build the foundations on which all of us try to build. Much more of Clint’s story is told in the Baltimore Sun obituary. The LSC statement is here.
I got to meet Clint during my second year of law school, when he, Garry Bellow, Jeanne Charn, Bill Simon, Isaac Borenstein, and Michael Lipsky were setting up the Harvard program. My wife Joan was one of the first students in the only year that the program actually functioned as a full year 100% clinically focused program, and then she was hired to work for the program.
So, for some reason Clint’s death, foreshadowed on December 6th by that of his beloved and equally contributing wife Katharine, hits particularly hard in the gut.
I think it’s because Clint and Katharine managed to make me feel like they thought I was an equal. They were always full of respect and interest in even my crazier ideas, and always just as humanly interested in every aspect of our lives. We always parted from them, most recently a couple of years ago, I think, reinvigorated and with greater self-acceptance.
Clint and Katharine were born healers, both of individuals and society as a whole.
I hope to be able to put together a more detailed appreciation, but will not be at peace till at least this has been said.
My wife Joan adds: Clint and Katharine were wonderful friends, mentors, and models of mine.
P.S. Alan Houseman’s obituary, prepared for the Equal Justice Library, is here.