Before my big trip to Orlando and my little trip to Pittsburgh, I got to see the swearing-in of Judge Fred Rowlett.
Judge Rowlett was a law clerk for Judge Williams in the Abingdon federal courthouse the first time I went there in the summer of 1986, before I started law school, and I think Julie Campbell Dudley was there with him. He was the one who first explained to me that a clerkship was really worthwhile, that a lot of what he learned in law school didn't really come together until his clerkship.
We had some cases while he was practicing in Abingdon. He was always very friendly and very generous as opposing counsel. Once or twice a year I would see him out on the mean streets of Abingdon, at some event or another, and he always joined us at the law clerk parties.
When he was working for then-Judge McClanahan on the Court of Appeals, I asked him what that was like, and he explained to me that all of life passed through the Court of Appeals. After Judge McClanahan became Justice McClanahan, and I went up to the Supreme Court on a few odd family matters, she never sat on my cases, but usually I would catch his eye somewhere in the room before I went out the door, and he would be smiling, probably because I'd said something goofy.
For more than thirty years, I have known Fred Rowlett as a good-humored legal scholar, the sort of fellow I aspire to be on a good day, and so I am well-pleased to see him in a black robe.