Members and spouses of The Hellenic Law Society of Northern California visited multiple seats of government in Washington D.C. including the United States Capitol, the Supreme Court and the White House in October. The impetus for the trip was an invitation for members of the Society to visit the United States Supreme Court from Justice Anthony Kennedy. His invitation was extended during his talk on the Eight Hundredth Anniversary of the Magna Carta to the Society at the home of Ambassador Eleni Tsakopoulos Kounalakis in San Francisco.
Through the offices of the Justice, the group was seated to listen to a complete oral argument before the current eight justices. The case, Manrique v. United States, involved issues of criminal appellate procedure. “Watching the oral advocacy of counsel, and the interplay with detailed questions and colloquy from the Justices, was a highlight of my career,” observed member and Judge Steven Counelis. Shortly thereafter, Justice Kennedy met with the Society’s members and spouses for one hour. With humor, hospitality and coffee, Justice Kennedy answered questions about how the Court decides which cases to accept for decision, how opinions are assigned to justices, and the importance of oral argument.
The group enjoyed a VIP tour of the United States Capitol just prior to visiting the Supreme Court. Six fortunate Society members were allowed access to a self-guided tour of the White House. Members of the Society also visited multiple Smithsonian museums including the Air and Space Museum, the National Portrait Gallery, the American History and other museums. A small group obtained tickets to the new Smithsonian African-American History museum. Chris Kanios explained; “The exhibitions of the tragic history of slavery, violence and myriad discrimination are a part of American history which must never be forgotten. But the exemplary contributions of African-Americans displayed elsewhere in the museum, are uplifting and inspiring.”
Another highlight of the visit was dining and meeting with legendary defense attorney Plato Cacheris, and his brother, Senior Federal Judge James Cacheris. Mr. Cacheris shared some of his professional experiences representing former CIA agent and foreign spy Aldrich Ames, U.S. Attorney John Mitchell of the Watergate case, Fawn Hall, secretary to Col. Oliver North from the Iran-Contra scandal, and Monica Lewinsky, White House intern to President Bill Clinton. Judge Cacheris offered insights into his thirty-year career on the federal bench, which included assignment to serve on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) Court.
The lobbying firm of Manatos & Manatos later offered an informal briefing to the members about the efforts of the firm on behalf of the Greek-American community, the Greek Orthodox Church, and a broad range of Greek ethnic organizations. Both principals, Andy Manatos and Mike Manatos, provided an “inside the Beltway” analysis of the implications of the presidential election upon the US-Greece relationship. Another Greek event was “The Greeks” at the National Geographic Society. This Exhibition featured museum pieces worldwide chronicling ancient Hellenic civilization from the Minoan and Mycenae eras through the Golden Age of Athens to Alexander the Great. A fitting end to a wonderful week in Washington D.C.
By Peter C. Lagarias, Esq. and Judge Steven Counelis
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