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Letter from Ronald Sokol to Daniel Meador, Thursday, October 16, 1997

Sokol Law Offices
14, rue Principale
13540 Puyricard

Professor Daniel J. Meador
James Monroe Professor of Law Emeritus
University of Virginia School of Law
580 Massie Road
Charlottesville, Virginia 22903-1789

Thursday, October 16, 1997

Dear Dan,

I had expected to write you in late summer, but here it is mid-October. I thoroughly
enjoyed your long letter of April 21st recounting your Korean trip. I can well imagine that
the jump from 1953 to 1997 in Seoul was a substantial one. There must be few places in
the world that have changed as much as Korea in that time frame.

As I am presently in London, I shall try to pick up today Paul Fussell’s The Great War in
Modern Memory [ital.]. I don’t know it at all. I finished rereading Don Quixote [ital.] which I last read in my Appellate Legal Aid days. In fact, it was Spencer Bell who suggested to me
what translation of it to read as my Spanish was then and remains today inadequate. It
was the Samuel Putnam translation. I read it with enjoyment then and again this year. It is
in two books each about 450 pages. The first published in 1605, and the second about ten
years later. It is curious that Shakespeare, Cervantes and Rabelais all wrote at almost the
same time and that each dominated and influenced their national literature in the
following centuries and still do.

I joined the Senior Lawyers division of the ABA and saw in their magazine that you were
one of the features of their second career program in San Francisco. I would be curious to
know how it went. I am even more curious to know how you found the Iowa Writers’
Workshop. I suspect I shall get back to writing, although my last experience in the article
I submitted to the Va. J. of Int’l. Law was highly unsatisfactory. The problem must not be
unusual, though.

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Disgusted with the mix-up at the Va. Journal I sent it to the International Lawyer [ital.]. It has
published three of my pieces over the past fifteen years. I sent it in mid-June. In early
July the Executive Editor wrote me to acknowledge receipt and to say she would get back
to me in a few weeks. In early August I received a fax from a law professor at SMU
saying they had just found my article and they wanted to know the status of it as their
executive editor had quit. I told them the status and heard nothing more. Finally, in
September after a half dozen e-mails and a couple of phone calls I got a reply saying they
had concluded that the subject matter was not in the area they wanted to pursue. So I sent
it off to the Georgia Journal of Int’l. & Comparative Law, and they have not even
acknowledged receipt, although it has only been a couple of weeks.

So I am getting a bit discouraged about writing. It is a bit frustrating because we have an
interesting trial going on in France now which tempts me as a subject. It is the trial of
Maurice Papon who is 87 years old and as the Préfet [ital.] in the Bordeaux area in the Vichy
Régime [ital.] during WWII ordered the deportation of French Jews. After the war he had a very
successful career as a senior civil servant. He was head of the Paris Police Force and a
minister in the Cabinet of Giscard d’Estaing in 1980. Now he is being tried for “Crime
Against Humanity” for which there is no statute of limitations. He is the highest level
French government official to be tried since the war, and the trial is getting an enormous
amount of publicity in France as the country brings to the forefront of the national
consciousness and tries to deal with its Nazi collaborationist past. He is not contesting
that he did deport Jews, but seems to be taking the position that he did what he could to
mitigate the problem and that he acted in an occupied country. The moral and legal issues
seem to me different than those of the Nurenberg Trials and merit serious exploration.
There is a kind of witch hunt atmosphere about the trial that I find troubling. It is in fact a
kind of “political trial”, a subject which I first broached in an article in the New Literary
History [ital.] not long after the trial of the “Chicago Seven”[ital.] I find the whole subject of
“political trials” interesting and apparently unexplored.

But I don’t like writing without knowing where I am going to publish and that poses a
problem. If you have any thoughts on this general subject, I would be grateful if you
would share them.

I have not heard from Mary Lee Stapp for awhile, but I think you and I have reached the
same conclusion. Unfortunately, nothing is going to come of the project while it is under
her aegis. I am mystified, though, as to the financing. Who pays for her trips to London,
the lunches, etc.? Is there some seed money for the project? I faxed her during the
summer just to ask what was happening, and she left a long message on my answering
machine that was pure Mary Lee Stapp.

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While I was restless during the first half of this year and increasingly bored with my law
practice, I seem to have been rejuvenated during the summer and am enjoying it once
again. I have a client in prison in Corsica and have flown there three times in the last two
weeks meeting with the Investigating Magistrate or Juge d’Instruction [ital.] and the police,
visiting the prison and generally dealing with the nitty-gritty of the French criminal
system. I have curiously enough been dealing quite extensively with French criminal
procedure over the past four years as counsel to civil parties who, as you know, can join
in a criminal proceeding, but this is the first time in many years that I have actually
represented an indicted person. I am finding it all quite stimulating.

When do I get to read the Korean novel? Are you still teaching and, if so, what? What do
you read to keep up with the law? Do you intend to keep doing so?

Your namesake Daniel did get into Oxford. He is at St. Edmund’s College and seems
very happy. He is studying linguistics and French. Yesterday he told me that he was
thinking about joining the Oxford Union but that it was “outrageously expensive” at £120
for the year. I suggested to him that I thought it would make sense for him to join.

I have hopes of bringing my family to Sea Island in December, but our plans are still

I am presently alone in London for a few days, but I know that Junko joins me in sending
you and Jan our warmest wishes.

RS [signature]

Téléphone: (33) (0)4-42-92-08-20
Fax: (33) (0)4-42-92-14-51
E-Mail: 106321,1502@COMPUSERVE.COM

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