Yesterday, at Duke Law School, some of us gathered in memory of Andrew Katbi, a law student who died in a car crash on March 31. With the permission of his parents Tarek and Leslie Katbi and his sister Olivia, I read aloud the letter I had sent to them:
I send you my deepest sympathy and my prayer that this great loss will begin to heal. Andrew was a student in my Evidence class and then in a seminar that he and five of his friends organized. That seminar, by their choice, focused on movements for justice and social change, and on the responsibility of law and lawyers. Each week Andrew and the others read and discussed the most important issues that a society must face. They came down to the coastal town where I now live and spent a day sharing ideas.For thousands of years, we have understood that in the complicated and difficult choices that we face in human society, there are two qualities that are essential: the sense of reverence for the earth and its inhabitants, and the sense that they are entitled to justice. Andrew possessed these qualities and prepared himself to show us, in his chosen profession, that law can be exciting, heroic and moral.I have been a lawyer and law teacher for 47 years. Andrew is one of the young people who will always stand out in my mind. He vindicates my own choice of profession. His example of clear thinking, compassion, and concern for justice ensures that his influence on his peers will be felt, and this is only one way in which we may truthfully say that he is still present in our lives.