The Club met January 23 at the law offices of Baker & Hostetler on Connecticut Ave., N. W., in Washington to present its 50th Anniversary Year Harold Hitz Burton Award to Bruce W. Sanford. Bruce is one of the nation's preeminent attorneys on the First Amendment, libel and media law.
Club members filled the elegant Sugarman Room of the law firm where Managing Partner Bill Schweitzer welcomed them and made remarks on how the firm was started by Newton D. Baker in Cleveland shortly before he was called to Washington to serve as President Wilson's Secretary of War. Stuart Taylor, a long-time friend of Bruce and a writer for the National Journal, then humorously but poignantly outlined Bruce's career defending journalists, newspapers and politicians, as well as his civic and community work. Trying to summarize Bruce Sanford in three minutes is like trying to summarize the Roman Empire in three minutes, Taylor said at one point. He also recounted a time when a federal judge, after hearing an appellant argument from Bruce, admitted that he had been wrong and reversed his previous decision.
Brooke Stoddard presented the Award to Bruce, who then discussed his work, beginning in the early 1970s in Cleveland and his successful efforts to expand the Cuyahoga County Library System. He pointed out the challenges that new technologies are imposing on existing law, which tends to change slowly, and described a sampling of the more than one thousand cases he has handled.
Colleagues of Bruce arranged for two cakes in Bruce's honor to celebrate his receiving the 2007 Burton Award. One had a picture of Bruce as a young attorney in Cleveland and was the source of a good deal of amusement.