Jan 27, 2013 Murray Janus’s positive example lives on with his criminal defense colleagues
Around 1994, Murray Janus –1981-82 president of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers — stood up to speak for his portion of the NACDL’s continuing legal education program in Washington, D.C. He spoke kindly and confidently, with an economy of words, with a southern accent, obtained from birth in his native Virginia in 1938.
Murray was a consummate gentleman who found a way to fight zealously for his clients while maintaining a graceful manner, without sacrificing his clients’ interests in the process of his kindness. Murray impressed me for being able to effectively defend his clients without needing a big ego, and while maintaining a t’ai chi calm.
I last saw Murray around two years ago as I arrived at the Chesterfield, Virginia, courthouse as he was going to his car. Murray briefly and colorfully regaled me briefly with his morning’s interesting experience in the courtroom, before going on his way.
Yesterday, Murray left his body. The well-deserved criminal defense lawyer listserv plaudits are already coming in. Murray lives on, including his influence on me to continue pursuing the path of calm and compassion while fighting zealously for my clients.
I never asked how Murray felt about growing up and practicing law amidst Virginia’s virulent Jim Crow, which continued when he was sworn into the Virginia bar in 1963, and which likely spilled over into bigotry towards Jewish people, and Murray was active in the Jewish community. I figured that he had transcended such artificial human-created barriers, and that he would have pointed out that virulent bigotry and the hope of eradicating it was not bordered at the Mason-Dixon line. Murray was born in Virginia, and apparently stayed there all his life except for his college years in Dartmouth.
The first time I called Murray for his feedback on a Richmond judge at least a decade ago, he could not have been more gracious and generous and on the money with his time and thoughts and kindness.
When I first heard Murray talk, he spoke of a particular chief prosecutor as a class act. The same is what I think about Murray.
Deeply thanking and bowing to Murray Janus.