Twenty-six years – half my lifetime – have passed since I joined Judge Merhige's court family as his law clerk. I attempt here to sketch my personal impressions, distilling what to me was most remarkable about Robert R. Merhige, Jr. Perhaps unsurprisingly, this dynamic man turned legendary judge – a man I revered from the moment I met him – is more vivid to me now than he was to my younger self.
Mercurial, energetic, and benevolently despotic, Judge Merhige was a man of extraordinary decency who cherished his vocation and the law. He was a World War II veteran and an accomplished, wickedly talented trial attorney tapped by President Lyndon B. Johnson for the federal judiciary in 1967. As a Lebanese-Irish Northeasterner, he was understandably proud of making good in the famously clubby, genteel Richmond of the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s. As a judge, he treated his court personnel and law clerks with great affection and caring watchfulness.
Mary Kelly Tate, Personal Reflections on the Honorable Robert R. Merhige, Jr.: A Judge, Mentor, and Friend, 52 U. Rich. L. Rev Online 17 (2017).