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On Justice Douglas Your article “Law professors propose term limits for justices” [NLJ, Jan. 3] [reports on comments by a group of law professors who refer to] Justice William O. Douglas as “the most dramatic recent example of a justice overstaying,” and comments on his serving for 36 years “in spite of a debilitating stroke in his final years.” This comment is both misleading and unfair. I was privileged to serve as one of Justice Douglas’ law clerks from June 1974 to June 1975. The facts are these. Justice Douglas suffered the stroke around New Year’s Day in 1975. After a period of hospitalization, the justice returned to the court in March, determined to make a full recovery from the stroke and carry on. He had limited success as he continued to read, write and attend arguments, but with his energy and enormous productive capacity cut back by the effects of the stroke and the demands of physical therapy. The court was in recess during the summer of 1975 until October. The justice spent the recess period at his summer home in the West, and returned to Washington in the fall. After a few weeks, he concluded that he could not continue, and in November 1975 announced his retirement. Thus, Justice Douglas did not remain in active service for “years” after the stroke. Instead, he took a reasonable period of several months to attempt a full recovery and, when he found himself unable to do so, retired with great dignity. Jay Kelly Wright Washington

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