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Letter from Daniel Meador to Ronald Sokol, Wednesday, April 12, 1978

United States Department of Justice
Office for Improvements in the
Administration of Justice
Washington, D.C. 20530

April 12, 1978

Mr. Ronald P. Sokol
Avocat Américain
Conseil Juridique
13540 Puyricard
Aix-En-Provence, FRANCE

Reference: 02 340 01
RS/sj/38/78

Dear Ron:

It is good to hear from you again, but I am amazed that
my last two letters took so long to reach you. All along I
have had the uneasy feeling that there is something strange
about government mail. In any event, I hope this communication
does not take as long.

I filled out the form for the Summer seminars and have
mailed a copy to the three schools. I am very happy to give
you the highest recommendation. Indeed, it seems to me that
you are an ideal candidate for this type of seminar, and I
have told them so in this form. I must say that these seminars
have strong appeal to me. I can imagine that, given the right
grouping of persons, they could be extremely interesting and
worthwhile. Somewhat along this line, an effort is going forward
to institute at the University of Virginia Law School a
graduate program for appellate judges. I have been tentatively
approached to serve as director of that program after
I leave here and get back to the law school. It is a fascinating
idea, one I have had in mind for several years, so I am
inclined to take up this proposition, but that would be over a
year away from now. Meantime, some planning is going forward.
My hope is to have something that goes far beyond the usual
discussions of judicial administration which one encounters at
judges’ gatherings. The point is to have a curriculum where a
judge can pursue all subjects traditionally associated with
university graduate study. It will be heavily oriented toward
jurisprudential subjects and will have some interdisciplinary
offerings in fields such as economics, psychology, history,
and others.

Mr. Ronald P. Sokol
Aix-En-Provence, FRANCE
April 12, 1978
Page 2.

I think your comment about the unavailability of things
such as dictating machines and tape recorders in recent years
probably does account for some of the dearth of the treatment
of blindness in existing literature. However, I’m not sure
that that is the whole explanation. I shall be thinking more
about this and also thinking further about what I may want to
say in print. I’ve pretty much decided that I cannot treat
the present problem by itself. It seems to me to involve now
my whole life, and that is a considerably larger subject, though
perhaps one of marginal interest to persons other than myself.

Since last Summer, I have thought a number of times of the
analogy to a prisoner. I mean the old-style, hard-core
prisoner without TV, movies, libraries, and other amenities
which have crept into the contemporary correctional situation.
I and the prisoner of the old style share a number of things in
common. One is the deprivation of mobility — the loss of
liberty to go when and where one pleases (shades of the test
of “in custody” which you may recall from Jones v. Cunningham).
Moreover, we share the loss of access to libraries, books, and
the visual aspects of TV. Of course, this analogy can be taken
too far, but I do think that it is not wholly inapt. This has
been reinforced in my mind recently, as I have just finished
reading Albert Speer’s diary, Spandau— The Secret Diaries.[underline] This
is a fascinating book which I think you might enjoy. Though it
may sound strange to say so, I find much in common with Speer.
There is something similar in the sense of being cut off from
the world and of having to develop various plans to cope with
the situation.

Presently, I am set to return to Boston on April 21 for
another examination, with the possibility of another operation
to follow immediately. There will undoubtedly be another operation
at some point; the only question is one of timing. I am
anxious to go ahead, but of course will not buck the medical
advice on the point. Whenever the operation occurs, it will be
the final fork in the road. I will either get back some vision
or will know that I will not.

Coincidentally, the night before my appointment in Boston,
I am scheduled to speak in Denver. I’m going to attempt to sort
out and relieve an enormous array of confusion about appointments
to office. My theory is that federal judges and U. S.
Attorneys are not necessarily to be treated the same way in

Mr. Ronald P. Sokol
Aix-En-Provence, FRANCE
April 12, 1978
Page 3.

terms of the appointment process. Moreover, “merit” and
“politics” are much misunderstood. I do not pretend to have
ultimate wisdom on these topics, but I do think I might be
able to attempt to dispel some misleading confusion; at least
I shall try.

I am sorry to hear that you think that you will not be in
Washington this Summer. If your plans change and you can come
through, please let me know. We have a space at our house to
sleep you and would be delighted to have a visit.

Sincerely,

Dan [signature]

Daniel J. Meador
Assistant Attorney General

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