MATT GOURAS Associated Press Writer MISSOULA, Mont. (AP)
Chief Justice John Roberts on Thursday delivered what is believed to be his first speech since suffering a seizure earlier this summer, drawing on work by the late writer Norman Maclean to inspire a group of law students. Looking fit and energetic, Roberts cited Maclean’s obsess i o n w i t h inve s t i g a t i n g Montana’s Mann Gulch Fire of 1949, which Maclean chronicled in the book “Young Men and Fire.” Roberts compared lawyers to firefighters, saying both have to jump into tough situations, and emphasized lawyers must be excited about their profession. “If you are in the law simply to make a living, you are not likely to find it rewarding,” he told the crowd of about 1,000 people gathered at the University of Montana Law School event. Roberts avoided discussing U. S. Supreme Court cases or constitutional issues, saying he had to be careful about what he said. “Of course, what you would find most interesting is what I can’t talk about,” Roberts said. Roberts spoke at length about Maclean and the similarities between lawyers and firefighters. He noted both are viewed as “a little bit nuts” and have a strong sense of camaraderie. And like Maclean, who spent the end of his career investigating the 1949 fire, lawyers and judges must sift through mountains of information to find the evidence that really matters, he said. Roberts was introduced by Chief U.S. District Judge Thomas F. Hogan, who said Roberts’ congressional confirmation hearing will stand as a model for future appointees. Hogan said Roberts endured the hearings with dignity, humility and without “pretense and pomposity.” “It’s not often that the president and Congress get things right, but they hit the mark with our chief justice,” Hogan said. The speech by Roberts, whose seizure in July was his second in 14 years, came in advance of the court’s October term. The seizure happened while Roberts, 52, was on vacation at his summer home in Maine. Roberts did not mention his health during the speech. Officials have not disclosed details of his diagnosis, treatment or whether he will need medication. Roberts had a similar episode in 1993. Appointed by President Bush to the court and confirmed in 2005, Roberts is the youngest of the nine justices and the youngest chief justice in 200 years. Seizures typically are associated with children, but experts say one in 10 adults will have one at some point. Experts say that a person who has had two seizures runs a significant risk of having a third. Previous speakers at the University of Montana Law School’s William B. Jones and Judge Edward A. Tamm Judicial Lecture Series include Louis Freeh, former director of t h e FBI, and U.S. Supreme Court Justices Sandra Day O’Connor a n d C l a re n c e Thomas. O’Connor has since retired.