Graham Browne, who helped create Sutin, Thayer, & Browne, one of New Mexico's leading law firms, died Friday, August 22, 2003. Graham, a beloved husband, father, and friend, was 68. He is survived by his wife of 41 years, Sandra Browne, and his daughters, Anne Browne and Rebecca Browne. Graham was born in Salt Lake City, Utah, on June 30, 1935. He served in the United States Army. He received his bachelor's degree from Hobart College in 1957, began law school at New York University, and graduated in 1963 from the University of New Mexico School of Law. After graduation, Graham worked as a courier and then an associate at Sutin, Thayer & Browne, at that time known as Sutin & Jones. He became a member of the firm, and recently celebrated his 40th year as a lawyer there. Graham founded the commercial and business practice group at the firm and was the primary author of the New Mexico Children's Code. In his broad practice, Graham advised clients on organizational, tax and personal matters and worked with business owners and accountants. Graham was known by clients and friends for his intellect, his legal expertise, his wit, and his gentle yet direct manner. Graham's cheerfulness and openness to others garnered the respect of everyone he touched, and his personality led people to gravitate to him. He was a mentor to generations of younger lawyers, and he was a founder and board member of numerous charitable organizations. Graham's boundless curiosity led him to be well-versed in history, computer science, music, and any other pursuit to which he applied himself, and to return from his numerous trips abroad with colorful accounts of new adventures. We benefited from his inimitable presence and will miss him greatly. Graham's survivors also include a cousin, Mimi Kuether, of South Carolina. A wake will be held September 3, 2003, at 5 p.m. at the Jewish Community Center of Albuquerque, 5520 Wyoming Blvd. NE. Instead of flowers, the family has established the Graham Browne Memorial Scholarship Fund in the History Department of the University of New Mexico, and contributions may be made in care of Sutin, Thayer & Browne, P.O. Box 1945, Albuquerque, NM 87103. Donations may also be made to the League of Women Voters/Albuquerque/Bernalillo County, 2403 San Mateo Blvd. NE, Albuquerque, NM 87110.
by Jean C. Moore
Ray Schowers was my law partner. He was my mentor, lawyer, client, bandmate and friend.
Ray was an extraordinary man. He exhibited tremendous energy in the conduct of his life. His natural exuberance lifted him above the ordinary. I do not think Ray ever really had a boring moment. It seemed as if everything either delighted him, or irritated him, or made him laugh, or inspired him, or made him express his love or commitment. The conduct of his life is an example of how to not waste any time.
I can testify that Ray was a great lawyer. He was a lawyer "of choice." Other lawyers wanted Ray to represent them when they had legal problems. This is the highest praise. Ray was superior in his craft because he believed completely in the cause of his clients. He was a class act in a profession beset with corrosion and increasingly diminished in reputation. Ray was in it for more than the money. For Ray, there was justice and conviction. He set the highest standard because his clients were his real-life friends, he believed in them as they believed in him.
I can testify also that Ray was a great law partner. In the running of our business he always acted selflessly, without greed, with conscience. His passing leaves a vacuum in our profession.
I can testify also to his personal courage. Ray was a powerful and talented and respected lawyer. He became terminally ill with a disease that for many remains frightening, ugly, misunderstood. I remember the tremendous courage he showed when he stood before his law partners in the spring of 1993 and quietly announced that he was dying. I remember also that he went forward to conduct himself with patient forgiveness and elegance. Ray never conducted himself with self-pity, only humor. He allowed others to be less fearful of AIDS because he put a human face on it. This is a real gift.
I can testify from my friendship with Ray how deeply appreciative he was by the unconditional and non-judgmental support of his friends, family and clients. I know also how proud he was of his law firm and how the people in it rallied to him. I want to thank our managing partners, who never wavered in doing right by Ray and in protecting his interests. I want to thank the many persons who assisted in taking care of his legal affairs in a way that comforted him.
I can lastly testify to his sense of humor. Many nights playing with the Suits, one needed a sense of humor, and he had one. One Halloween night I remember his great delight in shocking Annette and her college buddies when they came to a gig and found him playing the keyboards on stage in a shocking pink nun's suit. Another night I have this image of him holding a scotch and water in one hand and hammering the keys with another, simultaneously conducting a conversation with friends on the side of the stage while bellowing "Gloria."
This is how I will always remember Ray:
Awash in Joy
Surrounded by Friends ...
Just never missing a beat. He was a great and true friend.
Our thoughts are with Annette and Ray's parents and family. May the pain of his passing soon be tempered with loving memories of his life. May we always honor his memory.
by Jay D. Rosenblum
Franklin was very kind to me, but that doesn't mean he was easy. One day when I had first begun to work on tax issues with him, he asked me to analyze the gross receipts tax liabilities involved in different kinds of purchases and sales by a large construction company, which manufactured, sold and erected portable buildings. The analysis was pretty complicated. He came in when we'd been working on it for awhile, and said that the client would be coming in on a particular day to discuss the tax issues. He did not say whether he expected me, or wanted me, to attend the meeting with the client. I did not know what he had in mind, and finally went to him and said, "Well, I won't come to that meeting, because I have so many other things to do." He didn't say anything. I continued to think about whether I should be at the meeting or not, and finally concluded that of course I should be there. I went to him and said, "Well, I've decided I should come to that meeting." He didn't say anything. When the client arrived, and I went into the conference room where he was already sitting with the client, he introduced me and then turned to me and said, "Proceed." I proceeded.
Another time, when I was still in my first or second year as a lawyer, we were working on a letter to a client, the general counsel for a large telephone company in New Mexico. We had worked on several revisions, and I had what I thought was the final on a Friday. Franklin was not in, but I thought we needed to get the letter to the client and I thought I should send it even though Franklin had not reviewed this version. Saturday morning I was in my office and he poked his head in. "Did you mean to tell him such and so?" He asked. "No," I said. "Well, read the letter again," he said. I did, and saw an ambiguity in a sentence that had seemed perfectly clear to me the day before. "What is the client going to do when he reads this letter?" Franklin asked. "He's going to decide that we have told him he doesn't need to do anything," I said. [That, of course, was not what we intended he should do in response to the letter.] I did a supplemental letter [for Franklin's thorough review], and sent it to the client the following Monday. Franklin never expressed anger or exasperation with me when I made these mistakes. I asked him why, and he said that when the mistake is bad enough the young lawyer will know it and feel bad enough without the senior lawyer laying his anger on, too. You can get mad when the mistakes are small. I guess that meant my mistakes were always pretty bad, because I never recall him being angry with me.
"When you are writing, always ask yourself, what do you want the client to do in response to your letter." That was good advice. Sometimes you find yourself saying things in a letter that are accurate, but that don't contribute anything to accomplishing your purpose. Take them out. They will only lead to confusion.
I can still hear him, when I'm writing something, saying "Why do you use this word in this sentence, and a different word in another sentence, when you mean the same thing?" "Don't you really mean to say it this way?" "What do you want the client to do in response to this letter?" Many times, I go back to a document and revise it in response to that voice.
by Mary E. McDonald
On May 27, 1992, the plain wooden coffin of Lewis R. Sutin was lowered into the ground. Family members and close friends threw in the first shovelfuls of dirt with their own hands, thus saying farewell to the splendid, cantankerous, lovable, humanitarian lawyer, judge, mentor and friend. He would have been 84 years old on June 6, a date, Lew liked to point out, which had been selected for D-Day in World War II because it was his birthday.
To the thousands of his friends, colleagues and acquaintances, it was a day of mourning. Lew would have considered it his final public appearance. The man was irrepressible; adversity was something to be laughed at and overcome. While others played second fiddle, Lew Sutin led the band.
The public facts of his life are well known. He graduated from the University of Illinois Law School in 1931, and started practicing in Terre Haute, Indiana. In 1946, Lew, his wife and young sons moved to Albuquerque where he formed a law partnership with Irwin S. Moise, then a former district Judge and future member and Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of New Mexico. Lew was appointed Judge of the Court of Appeals in 1971 by Governor Bruce King, was elected to the court in 1972 and re-elected in 1974. He was turned out of office in 1982 after a sometimes acrimonious campaign that reflected his split with some of the members of the court over dissenting opinions, memorandum opinions and private "letter opinions" to attorneys who appeared before the court. He had the good sense to see that the court should give reasons for its decisions, and that lawyers and litigants deserved something more than "one-liner" decisions; his detractors had the good sense to realize that the business of the court needed to get done, and that the energy of the court should be concentrated on important matters. The Supreme Court weighed in by amending the Code of Judicial Conduct to add the collegial opinions requirement of Rule 21-300(A)(6). Lew Sutin wore it like a badge of honor.
He boasted of being the only member of the appellate judiciary ever to have been held in contempt in both the District Court and the Supreme Court of New Mexico. The latter instance involved a second motion for rehearing on an appeal that he had lost. Lew requested the court to appoint a panel of competent lawyers to decide the matter on the grounds that he thought the court could not understand his argument. The court set his motion for hearing, and as he began his oral argument, the Chief Justice banged his gavel, denied the motion for second rehearing, found Lew in contempt, and fined him. He paid his fine on the spot, in cash, with a smile. Though the proceedings were unpublished, it is said that his argument has since been adopted as the law of New Mexico.
While on the Court of Appeals, he held forth daily at the lawyer's table at La Fonda. His portrait hangs there in the lobby, beard, cigar, bowler, boutonniere, walking stick and all; a tribute from his companions of "the Round Table" for years of wit and wisdom generously shared.
He was generous of time, spirit and advice. Many a young lawyer, and a few old timers losing their grip, were the beneficiaries. More than 30 years ago, he frequented the law school library, where he always redeemed for cash all student IOUs in the coffee lounge.
In his last years, he came to the office every day, and carried on an extensive correspondence with political and religious leaders, the United States Supreme Court, the New Mexico Lawyer, and anyone else he felt could benefit from his unsolicited advice. His sheer audacity, orneriness, and joie de vivre are memorable. It's enough to make you believe in the hereafter; surely, God in Her wisdom cannot have failed to provide a place for such as this.
by Norman S. Thayer
A native New Mexico, son of pioneer ranchers in Santa Rosa area, received undergraduate degree from the University of Colorado in 1926; law degree from University of Michigan in 1928. Practiced in Santa Rosa, Tucumcari and Las Vegas in 30s. Appointed district judge in Las Vegas in mid 30s.
Joined U.S. Navy in 1942. Commanded a naval armed guard on merchant ships to defend against U-boats in North Atlantic. Veteran of dreaded "Murmansk Run," a convoy up the Norwegian Sea under the guns of the Luftwaffe, into the Arctic Ocean to the part of Murmansk in North Russia.
Returned to Albuquerque after war, and, in 1946, formed the firm of Moise & Sutin with Lewis R. Sutin.
Irwin was a general practitioner who handled litigation, commercial practice, real estate, wills and trusts. Appointed to Supreme Court of New Mexico in 1959, later served as Chief Justice; retired in 1970 and returned to serve "of counsel" to the firm. He is still considered one of the ablest members ever to serve on that court.
Irwin Moise was the wisest man I ever knew. His advice was sought by leaders of government and business. A lawyer's lawyer and a judge's judge. He took special pleasure in counseling young lawyers.
Irwin was sure of himself, and was always loyal to his sense of values, while tolerant of the values of others. Everyone who knew him thought him extraordinary. Because of his influence on those who are now the senior members of the firm, the younger lawyers' careers will be shaped in ways they will not recognize by this man they never knew.
by Norman S. Thayer
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