you work through something and you
have a view of it and it just doesn’t work,
so you’re forced to change. Other times,
somebody says something or you read
something that causes you to look at the
issue in a slightly different way that leads
you to a different conclusion.
That’s one of the beauties of working
with six other people. When you have seven
people in a room trying to get it right as
best they see it, and that they see it from
a slightly different perspective, it enriches
your view and helps you understand in a
better way. And then the writing process
refines that even more, and oftentimes
in the process your views can change. It’s
been a learning process from day one.
Q: And so leaving aside the question of
significance or importance, are there any
cases that are particularly memorable
A: Oh, there are any number of them
that come to mind. Sometimes we make
very difficult decisions with results that
you don’t like at all. Having to reverse a
conviction when there’s been a brutal crime
committed and you have a strong sense
that the [convicted] person is guilty, yet it’s
clear from what took place at the trial that
they didn’t get a fair trial, and that they’re
entitled to that and so you have to reverse
your conviction. Those are always difficult.
I had a case early on that was a question
of statutory construction, a statute that
made no sense. There wasn’t much you
could do to make sense out of it, and it’s like
you want to throw up your hands and walk
away, except you don’t get to do that. You
have to be able to come to a conclusion on
what it means in a way that is true to what—
at least as best you can determine—the
legislature was trying to accomplish. Thank
goodness, we figured out a way to do it, but
it was not pleasant getting there.
Q: What advice would you give lawyers
who are arguing a case before the court?
A: First of all, in your brief, be brief. Be
clear, be concise, and as far as arguments
go, when you get asked a question, answer
the question. Don’t assume it’s a trick
question; don’t assume that the person
asking the question is out to trip you up or
disagrees with you. I ask questions because
I need to know the answer to help me
make my decision.
Think about the one question you don’t
want to hear and have an answer for it,
because you’re probably going to get it. You
have seven people up there who have studied
your briefs and the law and are pretty up-to-speed, and so they’re going to be concerned
about various and sundry issues. We need
answers to those questions so we can make
a decision that accounts for the myriad of
concerns that may be presented.
Q: It’s surprising to hear that some
attorneys will ascribe negative intent to
the questions they’re asked.
A: Oh, that’s the other thing. Don’t be
hostile. You’re trying to get us to rule in
your favor. The idea is to help us, and we’re
asking questions so you can help us. If I ask a
question and you disagree with the premise
of the question, explain to me why I’m wrong
and I’ll listen to that. I want to know why I’m
wrong or if I’m wrong. Don’t try to avoid the
question; don’t answer the question you want
answered. Answer the question we asked.
Q: You’d think “don’t be hostile” would
be common sense.
A: You would think that, wouldn’t you? But
it doesn’t always work that way.
Q: Who were your mentors growing up
and in your various careers?
A: My parents, my family. They are the
ones that I looked up to. The reality is that
most of us are influenced by those who
we can talk to, who we can reach out and
touch, and who is that for young children?
Parents and family. This notion that
athletes and entertainers and celebrities
have a big impact—maybe they do, maybe
they don’t. But it’s not nearly the impact of
the people immediately around us.
In my football career, the people that
taught me how to be a football player
were Jim Marshall, Carl Eller, Gary Larsen,
Paul Dickson, people like that. And in my
legal career it was Leonard Lindquist,
Gene Keating, Ed Glennon, Ed Garvey from
Lindquist & Vennum. They all taught me
what being a lawyer was all about. I came
out of law school and I didn’t have a clue,
and they were instrumental in getting me
going down the right path.
Q: Regarding your law school days, how
were you able to balance your studies
with your football career?
A: Lots of people work and go to law school,
and for me the challenge was more going to
school during the season, finding classes that
I could take at times when I was available to
take them. It worked out pretty well.
Q: And of course you had a bit more
celebrity than the average law student.
Did that affect your education?
A: You know what, from my vantage point,
it didn’t affect it for me. I mean, I am just
who I am. It may have had some effect
on others, but I didn’t spend a lot of time
worried about that. I was going to law
school so I could learn and understand
the law. And so the fact that I had some
celebrity, it’s just a fact of life that I haven’t
spent a lot of time worried about.
Q: Have you put any thought into what
you would like your legal legacy to be?
A: Again, I will leave that for others, quite
frankly, as I have left it for others with respect
to my athletic career. I have done, hopefully,
the best that I can do and what others think
about that, they will think about it.
Q: What’s next for you?
A: Hopefully, continued growing and
learning. Clearly, it’s going to be a work in
progress and, hopefully, it’ll be exciting and
challenging. Beyond that, I don’t have it
nailed down. Obviously, I’ll be involved on a
much greater basis with the Page Education
Foundation. Hopefully I will be doing some
other interesting and exciting things also.
And somewhere along the way, I suppose
my family would like me to share time with
them. I look forward to that.
This interview was edited and condensed.