My brother Quin died last week. The death of a sibling may not sound like an appropriate topic for a law blog, but, as this obit makes clear, http://www.sacbee.com/news/local/article81833267.html , Quin was not only a lawyer, but a very special one.
Quin is best remembered for saving the Unabomber’s life against his client’s wishes. But mostly his practice was appellate in nature. It included three arguments in the Supreme Court, more than 25 arguments in the California Supreme Court as well another 25 in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Most of these cases involved challenges to the death penalty on behalf of indigent clients.
But I will remember Quin as much for his attitude as for his skills. A friend recently told me of her first sighting of Quin in court almost forty years ago. She was in a Salinas courtroom waiting to argue a case when her attention turned to a public defender arguing a routine criminal motion. She couldn’t help but admire the zeal with which he presented his arguments even though the judge was clearly unsympathetic. She couldn’t resist asking a colleague who the zealous advocate might be. “That’s Quin Denvir.”
That was Quin Denvir in every case he ever handled. On this blog, I sometimes call attention to lawyers who I think of as heroes for their attempts to create a less unjust world. Two excellent examples would be Thurgood Marshall and Tony Amsterdam, lawyers who have dramatically changed the American legal landscape for the better.
It might seem presumptuous to link my brother’s name with these legal superstars. And I don’t claim that my brother was a second Thurgood Marshall. But with regard to attitude, the three are peas in a pod. Each took great pride in being a lawyer, and each felt it was the lawyer’s great privilege to be able to employ his or her talents to see that the underdogs in our society did not become its victims.
Quin’s career should be an inspiration to all of us. I know it is to me.