“Some shapes have no corners and therefore no distinguishable sides. Circles and ovals are examples of geometric shapes that have no distinguishable sides.” Michael E. Carpenter, Describe the Properties of Geometric Shapes (scroll down).
Earlier, I posted a photo of Roscoe Pound’s circular desk at Harvard. Today, I post a picture of Richard Arnold’s oval desk in Little Rock. These were two supremely gifted men of the law who understood that having “no distinguishable sides” was not a bad thing, but rather a beautiful thing.
This copy of a photo showing Judge Richard Arnold’s oval desk was kindly supplied by our Circuit Librarian, the marvelous Ann Fessenden. The original photo was taken on Wednesday, September 29, 2004. Judge Richard Arnold died on September 23, 2004 as a consequence of an infection he suffered while being treated for Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma (of the indolent type) at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN. He had suffered from, and had been treated for, the disease since 1975. Upon Richard’s death, his brilliant brother (Morris (Buzz) Arnold), a Republican at the time of his appointment as an Eighth Circuit Judge, said of Richard, a Democrat at the time of his appointment as an Eighth Circuit Judge,* “He was second to none in the country. I mean that literally.” According to Tony Mauro, who has covered the Supreme Court for over 30 years: At the time of Richard’s death, eight Supreme Court Justices published tributes to his fairness, judicial restraint, and eloquent and influential judicial opinions. It is hard to imagine, these days, eight Supreme Court Justices agreeing on the time of day. But, Richard’s unique spirit and remarkable gifts brought people together. He was, as Professor Polly Price of Emory said, like Learned Hand, “perhaps the best judge never to serve on the Supreme Court.”
*Clarification, Friday, May 23, 2014 at 9:53 PM: Richard made it clear when he was first appointed as a federal district judge (barely a year later he would become a Circuit judge) that once appointed to the bench he was a judge and not a Democrat who was a judge. Before he too became a Circuit judge, the same sentiment was true for Buzz once becoming a district judge. He was a judge and not a Republican judge.