A few weeks ago there was a passing comment on the blog about a lawyer named Kurt Marmar. Mr. Marmar passed away in the 1980's. Mr. Abe Laeser responded with a comment about a Moot Court award at the U of M Law School given in Mr. Marmar's name. We asked him to write a few words about Kurt Marmar and he responded with this:
Kurt Lyle Marmar
Rare is the person who does not fade from memory after their death. Kurt Marmar, who died in his mid-30’s in 1985, remains as a beacon – an example – of qualities seldom seen; therefore easily remembered.
Kurt graduated from law school in 1974, and unfortunately died a mere decade later. He loved the law in the way that the most histrionic law professor might want every pupil to love it. Short, stocky, muscular – not someone you might see as an intellectual; but it was the ability to do battle for a cause drove him. Kurt was the consummate champion – a warrior among lawyers.
It was not the ‘side’ that he was on that mattered. He saw the law in a very idealized way – a battle between right and wrong – which could be fought by any lawyer, in any position. Kurt carried the dual edged sword of all great lawyers into battle. He had the legal skills to study the law until he understood even its most hidden nuances; then he applied his natural common sense to deciding which course to follow in his attacks. Surprisingly, he was collegial in the extreme, and had very close friends (and those who learned under his tutelage) on both sides of the aisle.
What proof do I have of his unique traits? He had been in private appellate practice for only a few years before his death. Before that, he achieved a milestone that would be unthinkable today. Within only a few years of his graduation, he was the Chief of the Appellate Unit for the Office of the Public Defender. He then, rather amazingly, left that office and became the Chief of the Legal Unit for the Office of the State Attorney. He kept personal work hours that astounded others, and even rented an apartment at the Cedars of Lebanon complex (before they were medical offices) so that he could walk to work at any time. Professional differences in both offices caused him to ultimately leave government service. In private practice, many of his finest arguments were at the highest Federal levels. .
Personally, he was a friend with very few peers. He hated social events, yet showed up with a Chateau Lafitte Rothschild 1961 for the host’s ‘collection’. He loved food and drink, and to travel. We once took a week-long food holiday with other friends, and literally went from city to city in Florida to taste their best dining fare.
Unfortunately, he had some phobias. We once mistakenly convinced him to try the log flume ride at Busch Gardens. It had an initial short drop, which bothered him. My next recollection, as we chugged up to the booth toward the longer drop, was of Kurt opening his wallet and offering all of the cash – and he always carried a huge amount of money - if the attendant would stop the ride. He survived, never said a word as he went back to his room – and was so upset by the events that he flew back to Miami alone that night.
After his untimely death, his many friends created the Kurt Marmar Moot Court Award at the University of Miami School of Law. It is a most unusual annual award, as the school and the faculty have no say in the selection of the winner; which makes it especially coveted. The fellow members of the Moot Court competition decide upon the choice. The criterion is simple; it is given to the person who: In the opinion of his or her peers has demonstrated a spirit of cooperation and fairness. That is a standard that Kurt would have always wanted for those who would compete for an award in his name.
I miss my friend, and his kind heart, and his fiery intellect. I will always remember Kurt.
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