WASHINGTON, Nov. 14, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr., welcomed the return of the Edward J. Devitt Distinguished Service to Justice Award to the Supreme Court of the United States last night.
Judge Edward Leavy of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals was presented with the Devitt Award, the most prestigious award bestowed upon a federal Article III judge, by Julie Chrystyn Opperman, widow of The Dwight D. Opperman Foundation founder and Chairman.
Dwight Opperman, an iconic figure in the American legal community, passed away in 2013 after a brief battle with cancer. Mrs. Opperman is continuing his philanthropic and charitable efforts. After a two-year absence, last night Mrs. Opperman was welcomed back to the Supreme Court by Chief Justice Roberts. She paid a moving tribute to her late husband and said that, "He was simply the most excellent person that I have ever known." She further thanked the Chief Justice and the entire Court for their exceptional friendship and many acts of kindness toward Dwight, including the surprise birthday party they all gave him at the Court one month before he died. Sarah Brightman performed for this elite gathering and returned last night in support of his legacy--but not before being detained, along with Charles Beams, head of Paul Allen's space company, in the Marshall's Office due to a lack of security clearance!
Upon the conclusion of the hour-long ceremony, the 100 invited guests enjoyed a reception in the Chief Justices portrait conference room, which was followed by an elegant dinner in the East Conference Room.
November 13th was also the birthday of Judge Leavy's wife, Eileen, and Julie Opperman surprised Mrs. Leavy with an exquisite cake designed by Joel of Occasions Caterers, all lit up with 86 gold candles. Sarah Brightman did not have to sing for her supper however, as the duet team of Justice Anthony Kennedy and Latin superstar, humanitarian and People Magazine's Sexiest Man Alive, Eduardo Verastegui, took to the podium and serenaded her with song.
Among the guests were esteemed judges, tough trial lawyers, family and friends. The celebration lasted well into the evening. Justice Thomas' thunderous laughter echoed throughout as the guests were thoroughly entertained by a comedic Oliver Wendell Holmes, aka William A. Barton, a successful trial lawyer from Portland, Oregon.
Justice Kennedy, a friend of Dwight Opperman's for more than 40 years, said that he attended most of the 31 annual Devitt Award presentations and that 2015 was by far the most enjoyable.
Judge Leavy said that his feet hadn't touched the ground since he received the news of his win. The youngest of ten children, he was raised on a 300-acre farm in rural Oregon. His father passed away when he was eleven years old, leaving his mother to raise the children and run the farm. Today, the Leavy Family Farm is a century farm and continues to grow hops commercially.
Chief Justice Roberts summed up Judge Leavy's exemplary career by saying that, "Judge Leavy is one of the most deserving, most respected, most admired judges in the country."
SOURCE Dwight D. Opperman Foundation