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THE CHIEF JUSTICE, THE BARBER, AND RICK To the editor: Fame eludes the vast majority of lawyers. Still, most of us at least meet an esteemed member of the profession or two sometime in our careers. The Sept. 12 issue of Legal Times reminded me of my own brief brush with legal fame. It occurred some 14 years ago at a local barbershop, a Dupont Circle institution with the unintentionally ironic name of “Hollywood Barber” and a colorful but sometimes irascible owner named Diego D’Ambrosio. It was the eve of my wedding day, a Thursday morning in June. I had the barbershop to myself. A few minutes into my prenuptial trimmings, there was a small commotion outside. Diego ran out and came back in, muttering in his distinctive Italian accent: “His driver always drives the wrong way up the street!” Moments later, to my amazement, in walked the chief justice of the United States, William Rehnquist. He alighted in the chair next to mine. There are certain immutable rules of barbershop etiquette, the number one being that the moment you sit down in that barber chair, you enter a constitutionally protected zone of privacy. No one may enter that zone without your prior consent; the chief justice was making no effort to invite in Diego’s only other patron that morning. My trim ended, and I despaired that not a word had been exchanged during what was likely to be my only appearance before the chief justice in my unremarkable career. Lacking anything to say that might be of interest to the Supreme Court, I screwed up my nerve, extended my paw, and said, “Hello, Mr. Chief Justice, my name is Rick Joyce. I’m a member of the D.C. Bar, and I just wanted to tell you that I’m getting married tomorrow.” Having trespassed into the chief’s zone of privacy, I held my breath, expecting the worst. To my surprise, he rose from his chair, shook my hand vigorously, smiled an enormous smile, and said, “Getting married was the greatest thing that ever happened to me. Congratulations, I know you’ll be very happy!” I thanked him profusely and walked out of Diego’s feeling like I’d won a 9-0 decision. Years later I joined the Venable law firm. Once again, the karmic gods smiled down on me: I was given an office next to an accomplished lawyer named Janet Rehnquist, the daughter of my barbershop acquaintance. Taking a chance, I shared with her the only anecdote about her father that involved me. To my infinite relief, she laughed out loud and told me how fond her dad was of his barber. For days, I basked in Diego’s reflected glory. Months passed, and our firm held a huge office-warming party. I spotted Janet across a crowded room, she waved me over saying, “Come quickly, he’s leaving now.” I had a fair idea who “he” was and started serpentining through the crowd to reach them. Just as the chief justice was making a break for the elevators, Janet pulled me alongside and quickly introduced us. I figured what the heck, and said that we had met years before at a local barbershop. He flashed a wide grin, shook my hand, and exclaimed, “Diego!” Smiling knowingly, I shook his hand and waved goodbye. The passing of one of the greatest jurists of the 20th century was noted in this publication with many tributes from noteworthy people, but one in particular caught my attention. An industrious reporter must have heard that if you want the full measure of a man, speak with his barber [ "Sworn Testimony," Sept. 12, 2005, Page 21]. And so there was Diego, sharing with Legal Times’ readers a secret known to anyone who had ever met Chief Justice Rehnquist for even a brief moment — he really was one heck of a nice guy. Frederick (“Rick”) M. Joyce Venable LLP Washington, D.C.

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