Jack Rice - Blog

Jack Rice is a criminal defense trial lawyer who provides legal advice to those charged with crimes in Federal and Minnesota State courtrooms.


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Standing Next to History . . . and Excited.

There was a time a couple of years ago when one of my kids asked me a direct and yet a very profound question. All she asked was, "what is the secret to life?" Now, I don't claim any extraordinary wisdom and am certainly no more equipped than the average guy. But I didn't want to waste this moment so I thought hard before I gave my answer. I got down on my knees and said, "never forget your excitement!"

Today, I took my own advice. I was invited to attend a University of Minnesota Alumni Association function in which Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court Sandra Day O'Connor was scheduled to speak. For those who may have forgotten, she is the very first and only one of two women to ever have served on the high Court. She has been truly an inspiration to millions of people, particularly women, because of her trail blazing work. Also, because of her unique position as a swing voter, she may have been the most influential Justice of the last quarter century.

Anyway, I arrived at the University of Minnesota campus where she was scheduled to speak. I haven't been there for years. While I graduated from the U of M Law School, I rarely have a chance to return. So, as I arrived on the Northrup Mall, I saw a massive white tent the size of a football field. This was apparently where a thousand of the U's closest, nearest and dearest friends were scheduled to eat before the Justice spoke.

So, I walked inside and was making my way toward the bar for some sort of adult beverage. Now, understand, there were hundreds and hundreds of people crammed in this little place, and it was hot. About 80 degrees and pretty humid today so imagine inside a tent with all of these people.

So, about half way across this football field I saw this long line of people. And all of a sudden, they parted like the Red Sea. And there she was. The small white haired lady in a black dress. But she is not just some lady. She is history. She will be talked about when I am long dead and forgotten. Sandra Day O'Connor.

So, for the lack of anything else to do, I walked up and introduced myself. "Madam Justice" I say, "my name is Jack Rice and I graduated from the law school here and I work for CBS radio here in town." She smiled very cordially and then started asking me about my job and before long, I was talking about a recent trip to Iraq.

Upon our discussion taking this turn, she looked into my eyes and grabs my arm. She said, "let's talk. Come with me." She lead me outside to stares of people around us. She then started peppering me with questions about developments in the middle east and a lot more. She was as smart as ever!

While it doesn't seem appropriate to discuss specifics because I wasn't officially interviewing her for the media, I do have to say a few things about the experience. I am regularly amazed about the opportunities that I have in my life. I am just this normal guy from essentially nowhere and there is no reason that I should have any expectation of doing what I do. There is no reason that I should have the right. In fact, I regularly pinch myself and recognize the many privileges that present themsevles.

It is another example of why life is amazing. And why I am truly thankful for every opportunity. And maybe most importantly for me, while I have had experiences like this before, to me, they are always exciting.

After some time, Justice O'Connor thanked me and she and her people walked back into the football size tent. And I stood there, smiling. Excited. Knowing that I had been standing next to history.