My criminal law professor just died and I cried like a baby this past week. I couldn’t help but look at the photograph taken of him presenting me with a trial advocacy award upon graduation in 1988. The framed picture rests on the mantel of an old wood—burning stove in my dining room. It is one of my prized possessions.
James Strazzella was acting dean of Temple Law School when I worked for him making $5.25 an hour as a work study student my senior year. I could never figure out how he chose a C+ student as an assistant when he could have had the pick of the best and the brightest A+ student at the Philadelphia school. It wasn’t the “letter” of the law he was concerned with, however, but the “spirit” and I guess he saw something in a fellow whose immigrant father never made it beyond 6th grade but instilled in his son of love of learning and the American Dream to help others less fortunate than oneself.
Professor Strazzella made you think of the law and how the Constitution was a living document that grows through the years and grants rights to all by ensuring the rights for those accused of crimes.
I applied it to my practice for 20 years and feel that working with the law was more of a “calling” than a job. “Strazz” as we called him, wanted his students to revere the law and to know it was created by man to serve man for the good of all. I tried to keep that in mind when appearing before a jury that was formed to determine the outcome of a person’s life and liberty. I am happy to say the system works just as my old professor instructed us it would in the courtrooms of the world.
God keep you Professor Strazzella . . . See you in your next life’s incarnation!