Marvin Frankel was a mentor and friend of Gary Naftalis for almost 40 years beginning when Gary was a first-year law student and Marvin was his professor at Columbia Law School. They later co-authored a book on the Grand Jury system and after Judge Frankel left the bench they were law partners. In his essay, Gary reminisces about what made Marvin Frankel so special as an advocate, federal judge and legal scholar.
Marvin spoke as he wrote in clear and persuasive paragraphs. He thought critically and didn’t accept conventional wisdom when it couldn’t withstand analysis and scrutiny.
Marvin liked advocacy and as a judge always wanted to get the right result even if meant acknowledging that his previous views were incorrect. He applied the same critical thinking when he critiqued subjects as diverse as sentencing, the adversary system and the proper relationship between church and state. And he was always open to good ideas even when they came from younger lawyers, whom he regarded as valued colleagues.
Mr. Naftalis also recounts Marvin’s last Supreme Court argument in the Ohio School Vouchers case. Shortly before the argument, Marvin had been stricken with a malignancy that rendered him unable to walk. Disregarding his doctor’s advice, Marvin journeyed to Washington DC and argued before the High Court from a wheelchair. He passed away 11 days later.