Farewell to friend, mentor Judge Houck

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Last month, we buried my friend and mentor, US District Judge C. Weston Houck. He succumbed after an extended struggle with cancer.

I regret that I was unable to visit with Judge Houck but a few times over the last several years and could not speak with him directly before his passing. I was honored beyond words that among all the law clerks he had in his 38 years on the bench, I was among the six he selected as his pallbearers.

Judge Houck was best known for his decision in the Citadel case, ending the school's 152-year, male-only status, and opening the door for women to attend the Citadel. To those practicing law with or before him, he was known as one of the brightest legal minds of his time.

When I began my clerkship with him in 1994, I was awed by his brilliance. Over time, I came to deeply respect his work ethic and his love of the law. He believed wholeheartedly that the rule of law was the cornerstone of our civil culture, and that our government was, and must remain, a government of laws, and not of men.

He insisted his law clerks do the very best work possible, to the point of perfection. A proper respect for the law demanded we always be the most prepared lawyers in the courtroom.

At the time I worked for him, we held court in Florence for six weeks, then Charleston for six weeks. This meant that I traveled a lot, usually late Sunday nights after packing up the case files for our next term of court.

One Sunday evening he came to me and handed me what I thought was an interesting book on tape. It turned out to be the Federal Rules of Evidence on tape. He advised that it should be memorized verbatim.

Judge Houck was truly a lion of the judiciary. It is almost impossible to overstate the profound influence his words and his example have had on the way I strive to conduct myself, not only as a lawyer and lawmaker, but also as a man.

Turning to a local event of note, I want to urge you golfers to sign up early for the upcoming American Legion Post 205 12th Annual Charity Golf Tournament. It will be held Sept. 29 at the Rose Hill Golf Course. Players need to be there by 8 a.m. for sign in, coffee and donuts, to pick up a swag bag and to hit a few balls at the driving range before the 8:45 a.m. Opening Ceremony, with a shotgun tee off at 9 a.m.

My wife, Rose, has connections to the American Legion. As a teenager, she attended Girl's State, and more recently, she helped start a local chapter of the AL Auxiliary, which sponsored the first group of local girls to Girl's State, as well helping with the golf tournament.

For registration or sponsorship, visit www.alpost205.org or call the tournament chairman, David Leite, at 508-272-7622. This is always a fun event for a great cause.

Weston Newton is the representative for District 120 in the State House of Representatives.

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