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Letter from Ronald Sokol to Daniel Meador, Monday, May 15, 1989

Ronald P. Sokol
B.P. 3
13540 Puyricard
France

Professor Daniel J. Meador
James Monroe Professor of Law
University of Virginia
Charlottesville, Virginia 22904

15 May 1989

Dear Dan,

To my astonishment, your last letter, which I have sitting in
front of me, is dated August 15, 1988. I had been thinking about
it for what I thought was three or four months, but it turns out
to be nine.  In March of this year I turned 50, and this
phenomenon of accelerating time is what strikes me the most.

I think what has precipitated my response at the moment is that I
was particularly thinking about you last week when I went to the
French Administrative Court in Nice for a hearing in a case
brought by the socialist and communist led teachers’ unions
against the Department of the Maritime Alps and the American
International School in Nice. I have been representing the
latter. Actually my thoughts turned to you somewhat indirectly. I
was really thinking about Reno Harp [sic]. This led me to think about
your reflections 25 years ago about the extent that states’
rights may have been eroded simply by inadequate legal
representation.

I was working closely with counsel for the Department of the
Maritime Alps which is the French approximation of a state
government. The American School had signed a long-term lease with
the Department for a symbolic rent of one franc per year, but the
existence of the lease was known only to the directors of the
School and to the Department. The teachers’ unions did not know
it existed, nor did the court. The Department’s counsel wanted me
to lie to the court and affirm that no lease existed. I naturally
refused to do this. The Department’s lawyer could not understand
this and insisted I was “too pure”. “Sometimes you have to lie to
the court to win,” he said. “Don’t American lawyers do that?”

In addition the argument that he had made in his trial brief made

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me wonder whether he might be a distant cousin of Reno Harp. All
this made me wonder whether Reno Harp is still defending the
Commonwealth in state post-conviction cases and, if not, what
became of him and whether his replacement is giving Virginia
better value for its money. The Department of the Maritime Alps
was certainly not gettting much.

I have recently been invited to teach at a new law school that is
being created in Besanҫon in France near the Swiss border. This
school, scheduled to open in 1990, plans to use the case method
and hence break out of the highly theoretical teaching of the
existing French law schools. I am still debating if I want to
teach and, if so, under what conditions, a seminar from time to
time or something more ambitious such as my presence there for
about a third of the time. It is by no means certain that the
courses I suggested will be of interest to this new school. The
subject that intrigues me the most at the moment is a seminar on
the civil rights case law of the European Court of Human Rights
and the U.S. Supreme Court. I would try to do something like
Charles Horsky did at Virginia but using the cases of both
courts. I doubt if anything will come of all this, but I mention
it to let you know that I still think about these matters.

A few months ago I did a brief for a French lawyer on “disguised
extradition”. Essentially this amounts to contesting the
jurisdiction of the court on the grounds that the accused has
been unlawfully brought before it. The U.S. Supreme Court
rejected this argument in Kerr v. Illinois and in the
1950’s in Frisbie v. Collins, if I remember the names of the
cases correctly. But there has been good criticism of the rule,
and the European Court of Human Rights decided an interesting
case in 1986 involving France (Bozano Case) in which the Court
condemned the practice of illegally remitting a prisoner from one
country to another, thus avoiding the extradition process.
[“brought” struck through] This was really my first look at the case law of the
European Court of Human Rights, and I was surprised by the extent
to which the case law had developed and to which it mirrors the
problems confronted by the U.S. Supreme Court.

I enjoyed seeing your letter of inquiry to publishers for your
novel. Now that nine months have gone by, I would like to know
the result. I hope that you won’t give up if the first attempt is not
accepted. There is plenty of precedent for the 2nd attempt doing
better. The theme of your novel intrigues me, but I know little
about the relationship between Germany and the American South. In
fact, I didn’t even know there was such a relationship.

My oldest son will move into his last year at Winchester College

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in England next year and will be applying to Oxford. Hopefully he
will get in as he has no second choice. He is interested in
economics and, I believe, law, although he says little about
this, and I say even less, as I do not what [sic] to frighten him off.
The second boy, who is named after you, will be eleven this
August and is with us. He spent last year in England, and I
expect him to return there in the fall of 1990 and then complete
his education there. He appears to be bright, is a good student,
and is gifted in sports. He is also the most difficult of my four
boys. He is generally at one extreme or another — laughing or
crying. Fortunately, he’s mostly laughing. The other two are only
nine and seven and hence shall escape an accounting, although my
nine year old is spending the year in England and is now quite
fluent in English.

My wife and I and the three youngest boys are going to spend
from July 12th to August 12th in Western North Carolina. We
shall be at a place called the Chalet Club on Lake Lure which is
about 30 miles outside of Asheville. My information about it is
somewhat skimpy so I am hoping for the best. Where do you expect
to be during that time frame? If in Charlottesville, perhaps I
would fly up for a day or two, if your schedule permits, and
visit with you and Al Turnbull and generally see what the Law
School and Charlottesville look like these days.

I am still enjoying my practice here, although I would enjoy an
occasional appellate argument before the 4th Circuit. Are any
faculty members still engaged in such activities?

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I have materials on my desk for an article on American nonprofit
institutions operating in France, a subject on which I have
acquired some expertise. I sent my inquiry letter to the
International Lawyer which sent the proper encouraging response,
but I have been slow getting underway. I seem to have lost some
of my enthusiasm for writing. Hopefully it will return, but at
the moment the flame is rather dim.

I always enjoy getting your letters and hearing of your different
projects. Incidentally, what is the status of Lucius Quintius
Curtius[sic] Lamar? I presume the field is still open, and no one
other than you and me and Henry Adams even recollects who Lamar
was.  You may just have time to finish him off; if you wait much
longer some graduate student in history will preempt you.

My warmest wishes to you and your family. Let me know what your
plans are for the summer.

Sincerely,

[handwritten signature]

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