(Music and the Law) Rock on Judge Daily

musicI never met Judge Douglas W. Daily. I probably would never have been aware of him had I not been flipping through the June 9, 2009 edition of The Daily Journal, a journal that has long served the Los Angeles legal community. On page 2 there was an article that focused on Judge Daily. Sadly, it was a lengthy obituary that chronicled Judge Daily’s distinguished legal career. However, what caught my eye was the headline: “Judge Was ‘Music-Maker’ of The Ventura County Court.” Turns out Judge Daily was a fantastic rock, blues and all around guitar player. I looked at the picture in the article and immediately thought and realized I was looking at a kindred spirit. See I have two passions as well, practicing law and playing guitar.

Those of my clients that have been to my new office at 1912 Broadway in Santa Monica, have noticed the many guitars, piano and other musical equipment inside my office. I am not sure whether my clients that have been to my office have noticed the numerous issues of Guitar Player magazine strewn about my law books and office furnishings. In fact recently, after presiding over the closing of a stock purchase agreement at my office, either the buyer or the seller (frankly, I forget which) asked me to play a song for them. This was my first ever request by a client to perform live in my law office. I chose a song I wrote and played and sang. It was an awesome feeling. After guiding my client through his legal needs of the moment, I “changed hats” and then indulged in my other passion of performing an original composition on solo acoustic guitar. It was a wonderful moment.

My first passion was the guitar. My older brother got a guitar as a Bar Mitzvah gift and it proceeded to collect dust in the corner of our shared bedroom. One day, inexplicably, I picked it up and dusted it off. I opened a contemporary music book that my brother had lying around and taught myself the chords to Creedence Clearwater’s “Proud Mary.” I remember at some point going downstairs into the kitchen where my mother was preparing a meal. I was one of four sons. My mother loved to sing, but up until that moment, none of her children had displayed any musical aptitudes. I sat myself down in the kitchen and proceeded to play and sing Proud Mary (apologies to Creedence Clearwater and Tina Turner). I managed to stay on beat and in tune and sang it all the way through. I remember that my mother was standing over the sink; I think she was pealing some vegetables. She just froze until I finished. I don’t remember what she did next, but I know she was enthusiastic and supportive. In sum, a guitar player had been born! The year was about 1971.

I would not discover my other passion until finally giving in to my father’s exhortations to go to law school. The year was 1987. I enrolled in Pepperdine University School of Law. I did not immediately realize it, but I had found my academic and professional path. I enjoy being a lawyer and assisting clients when they require my services. I think it was the great athlete and humanitarian, and Dodger star, Mr. Jackie Robinson, that said, “a life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives.” I think Mr. Robinson hit it right on the nail with that one. In my professional activities, the law allows me an opportunity to have a positive impact on other lives. While the practice of law is not easy and has many pressures, it has many rewards, including having a positive impact on other lives. As much as anything else in my law practice, this helps me keep going when the going gets tough.

I am sure that the legal community misses Judge Daily. I miss him even though I never met him. I say this because I identify with those lawyers (and judges) who find spiritual sustenance in immersing themselves in their professional legal activities and their contemporary musical activities. Rock on Judge Daily, I hope you are jamming on your axe wherever you are. Even though I never met you, you have had a positive impact on my life and that makes your life important.

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