The Supreme Court community said farewell this morning to Francis Lorson, the legendary former deputy clerk of the court who died January 11 at age 69. Five justices, dozens of court staff members and practitioners, as well as many family members and friends, attended a mass of Christian burial for Lorson at the Catholic Church of the Immaculate Conception in D.C.
Lorson retired in 2002, but is still fondly remembered as the ever-helpful court official who assisted legions of lawyers in following the court's rules and procedures and prepare for briefing and arguments before the court. He was widely viewed as the court's institutional memory for more than three decades.
In remarks toward the end of the service, Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. described Lorson as legendary, a "quiet, unassuming man who had the charisma of one who knew what he was doing." Lorson was "always unfailingly helpful and unfailingly gracious" to lawyers like Roberts, who argued before the court regularly before becoming a judge. "He extended these courtesies to everyone," Roberts said, also noting that justices asked Lorson for advice as well.
The other justices attending the mass were Antonin Scalia, Anthony Kennedy and Elena Kagan. Also at the service were Jeffrey Minear, counselor to the chief justice, Court Marshal Pamela Talkin, and numerous other court officials and employees. Solicitor General Donald Verrilli Jr. led a large contingent from the solicitor general's office. Among the veteran court practitioners spotted in the pews were former solicitor general Seth Waxman, Patricia Millett, Tom Goldstein, Miguel Estrada, Alan Morrison, Beth Brinkmann, H. Bartow Farr III, Richard Taranto and Paul Smith. Smith served as a pall bearer, as did current deputy court clerk Gary Kemp.