ABBREVIATED HISTORY OF THE THOMAS MORE AMERICAN INN OF COURT
The American Inns of Court Foundation is a national organization dedicated to the advancement and study of the practice of law in the United States. The organization, structure and teaching methods of the foundation are modeled after the traditional English Inns of Court, from which the Foundation's name was derived. Both the academic and social aspects of the Foundation and its chartered "Inns" are advanced through the interaction of the membership, which consists of judges, academics, established practitioners, developing practitioners and law students. The purpose of an Inn has been defined by the Foundation to be:
An intimate amalgam and interaction of judges, master lawyers, less experienced barristers, law students, and law professors in an organized and continuing structure, including pupillage groups to enhance directly the ethical and professional quality of legal advocacy in America. While recognizing the inescapable differences, the American Inns of Court will be patterned on, and will enjoy kinship with the English Inns of Court, so as to share their professional ideals and standards and the pride they engender as a part of our legal heritage.
FORMATION OF THE THOMAS MORE INN OF COURT
In 1988 Former Dean Thomas Sponsler of the Loyola University School of Law requested of Professor David R. Normann, then serving as Associate Dean, that he investigate the viability of the idea of chartering an "Inn" which would be affiliated with the school. Professor Normann contacted the national office of the American Inns of Court and undertook the completing and submitting of the required documents. National notified Professor Normann that the application had been approved and the charter would be presented at the 1988 annual meeting in Washington, D.C. Professor Normann enlisted the aid of Professors Kathrine Lorio and Patrick Hugg, who attended the meeting and received the formal delivery of the charter. Professor Lorio, who professed that she was honored to have been involved in receiving the charter but that she was not a practitioner or teacher of trial advocacy, then graciously yielded to Professors Normann and Hugg, who have remained active in the Inn since its inception. They have served continuously as its faculty representatives.
Professors Normann and Hugg, being of the view that a strong association with the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana would provide increased viability to the Inn, invited Judge Adrian Duplantier to involve the Court and to serve as the Inn's first president. Judge Duplantier accepted both the challenge and the position. He has continued to encourage the participation of other District Judges and Magistrate Judges in the activities of the Inn. The three-way association of the Court, the Inn and Loyola Law School has proven its value.
Judge Duplantier suggested honoring the historic figure, Saint Thomas More, by naming the new Inn after him. The other organizers readily and enthusiastically agreed.
On June 10, 1988 the American Inns of Court Foundation issued a charter to "American Inn of Court LV," which is the Charter designation of the Inn associated with the Loyola Law School. However, the Inn was named after Saint Thomas More and has been unofficially denominated from time to time as The Saint Thomas More American Inn of Court, The Thomas More American Inn of Court, The Saint Thomas More Inn of Court, Thomas More Inn of Court (used on the letterhead) and The Thomas More - Loyola Law School AIC (used by the Foundation in correspondence to the Inn).
ORGANIZATION, STRUCTURE AND OPERATION
The Thomas More Inn of Court is an unincorporated association closely aligned with the Loyola School of Law. It is supported by many of the Judges and Magistrates of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana, as well as active members of the Louisiana State Bar Association practicing in New Orleans and throughout Southeast Louisiana. Its membership is composed of judges in both the federal and state systems, established practicing attorneys, law school professors and educators, practicing attorneys who are relatively recent law school graduates and finally, law students who rotate temporarily through the Inn on an annual basis.
The governing body of the Inn is its Executive Committee, which is comprised of the President, Counselor, Secretary/Treasurer and such additional officers as the Benchers may deem appropriate. The President and Counselor must be Benchers. Other officers may be selected from any class of membership. Both at the recommendation of the Foundation and traditionally, although not mandatorily, either the President or the Counselor (who serves essentially as Vice President) is an active judge.
The Executive Committee designates the dates for the commencement and termination of each operative year. There are usually four meetings annually. Technically, officers for the succeeding year are to be elected at the final meeting of each operative year. Governance is by consensus. The term of each office is one year but officers may succeed themselves and generally serve for two or more years. (According to the Charter, the President and Counselor are to be elected by the Benchers. All other officers are to be elected by the general membership, except that the pupil members do not vote.) The Presidents, listed in chronological order, have been Judge Adrian Duplantier, Judge A. J. McNamara, Magistrate Michelle Wynne, Nan Alessandra, Jack Martzell, Ernest Svensen and Judge Carl J. Barbier.
There are five official (and one unofficial) categories of membership. These are:
1. Masters of the Bench - "Active Benchers". These members are judges, legal educators and established practicing attorneys. The Charter suggests that there may be 24 such members but traditionally membership has not been limited to that number.
2. Masters of the Bench - "Emeritus Benchers". Benchers who have served actively and continuously for a minimum of five years are eligible for this category of membership. It is to be conferred by the secret ballot of at least two-thirds of the Active Benchers. It is granted on the basis of long and distinguished service to the Inn. Emeritus Benchers are not obliged to pay dues, attend meetings or participate in other programs of the Inn but they enjoy all privileges of active membership except the right to vote. The designation as an Emeritus Bencher is for life. The records of the Inn indicate that no Emeritus Bencher membership has been conferred by the Inn.
3. Barristers. This classification consists of practicing attorneys who have been at the Bar for a minimum of two years. The Charter suggests that Barristers remain in that position for up to three years, following which they may ask to remain as members participating in such fashion as the Executive Committee deems appropriate. The Charter places a limit of 16 attorneys in the Barrister classification but by tradition that limitation has not been enforced.
4. Pupils. The Charter provides that up to 24 (a) students and/or (b) practitioners admitted to the Bar for less than two years are eligible for membership in this category. By tradition law school students only have held these memberships, which are subject to a term of one year. However, student members may apply for continuing membership as pupils following their graduation. Such continuing Pupil members, as well as other lawyers who have practiced for somewhat more than two years, have been classified by the Thomas More Inn of Court as "Associates," a membership category not recognized in the Charter. After two years or more of practice Pupils and Associates may seek to be admitted as Barristers and eventually as Benchers.
5. Honorary Members. Honorary Members may be elected upon nomination by the Executive Committee, subject to a two-thirds affirmative vote of the Benchers in attendance at an election meeting. Honorary membership is to be granted on the basis of distinguished service to the Bench or Bar, advancement of the Inn's objectives or other noteworthy professional achievements. Honorary members are not obliged to pay dues, attend meetings or participate in the Inns programs but otherwise enjoy all of the privileges of membership except the right to vote. The records of the Inn indicate that the only Honorary Member has been the late Judge Lansing Mitchell.
The Charter provides for the pupillage system, which is modeled after the basic structure of the English Inns of Court. Each Pupil, Associate and Barrister is assigned to work with a Bencher who is a practicing attorney. Each pupillage group is assigned to a Bencher who is a judge, who exercises general supervision over the group.
In some years the pupillage system has been honored by its breach. However, in appropriately "structured" years, the Inn has operated with four pupillage groups, designated as "A," "B," "C" and "D." The pupillage groups have been traditionally organized as suggested in the Charter.
The first meeting of the Thomas More Inn of Court, using the pupillage group format, was on December 6, 1988. As a point of interest, the initial pupillage group judicial chairpersons were Judge Gerald Federoff (Group "A"), Judge Adrian Duplantier (Group "B"), Judge A. J. McNamara (Group "C") and the late Magistrate Michelle Wynne (Group "D"). Additional judges assigned to Groups "A," "B," "C" and "D" respectively during the first year of operation were Judge Eugene Davis, Judge Robert Klees, Judge Leon A. Cannizaro, Jr. and Justice Pascal Calogero.
The initial Executive Committee was comprised of Judge Gerald Federoff and Professor David Normann (Group "A"), Judge Adrian Duplantier and Jack Brook (Group "B"), Judge A. J. McNamara and Marilyn Barnes (Group "C") and Magistrate Michelle Wynne and Jack Martzell (Group "D"). The first meeting of the Executive Committee was held on December 27, 1988. (Interestingly, the minutes are erroneously dated December 27, 1989.) The composition of the Executive Committee has changed from year to year but the record of all of those who have served has not been preserved.