Friday, September 02, 2011

Goodwin Liu's big day

I don't presume to know if Thursday ranked as high as fourth in the greatest days of Goodwin Liu's life. But is was a big day. And fourth is as high as it could reasonably be expected to rank, since he is married with two children.

Goodwin Liu was sworn in as a Justice of the California Supreme Court by Governor Brown at a private ceremony in the Capitol Rotunda on Thursday. My Rio Americano colleague, English teacher June Gatewood, and I attended as invited guests of our former student. Our pride in Goodwin could be eclipsed only by that of his parents, Yang-Ching and Wen-Pen. I love this photo from the confirmation hearing on Wednesday.

Thursday's swearing-in ceremony marked the first time I had ever been inside the Capitol. Mrs. Gatewood and I were honored to have been invited by Professor Liu. If I told you I wasn't completely giddy, I'd be telling you a lie.

We were seated directly behind other Supreme Court Justices and in among important dignitaries such as Attorney General Kamala Harris. If I were more "in the know," I'm sure I would have recognized the other high-power officials that surrounded us.

The ceremony was brief: introductory comments from Governor Jerry Brown, an enthusiastic welcoming statement from Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye, an address from Professor Liu, and the swearing in. Goodwin's wife, Ann O'Leary—an accomplished professional in her own right—smoothly kept the couple's young daughter, Violet, and toddler, Emmett, suitably entertained during the ceremony. I sat rapt by the whole affair, beaming with pride, joy, and delight. Little Emmett, however, expressed concern that the ceremony ran a bit long.

Two Rio Mirada student journalists obtained press credentials and documented the ceremony for the school newspaper.

A reception was held in the governor's office following the ceremony. Mrs. Gatewood and I enjoyed some snacks. She eventually left, but I stayed. I got a chance to greet the Governor and thank him for making an excellent selection.

After the crowd thinned somewhat, I sat with Goodwin's parents and thanked them for raising two outstanding boys. Goodwin's brother, Kingsway, is a respected surgeon at Kaiser Permanente's Fremont Medical Center. He graduated from Rio just before I arrived. Mrs. Liu deflected the praise and insisted her boys did it all, themselves. She is sweet and charming, but I wasn't buying her argument. Mr. Liu was as aglow with pride as I've ever seen any father. If the smile ever left his face, I didn't see it.

The throng of well-wishers eventually slowed, and Mrs. Liu summoned Goodwin's attention. Decorum aside, I shook the Justice's hand and pulled him into Hug Harbor! We caught up for a bit; and it struck me how little he's changed. He's almost completely the Goodwin Liu I remember from 25 years ago!  Mrs. Liu kindly snapped a photo so I could have my very own groupie shot!

I know, I know; I should have set the fill-in flash! If you knew how delirious with joy I was, you'd forgive my inattention to photographic details. I'll remain buzzed with the joy of this event for some time. I am proud of Goodwin and delighted for the great state of California. I hope life for the Lius quiets down a bit now and they get some rest and relaxation. I know I'll sleep better knowing that Goodwin Liu will be weighing in on the state's most important legal matters.

1 comment:

Julia (Cuny) Meyer said...

Thanks for blogging and the pictures. We know that journalists never capture things in the same perspective that you had. It was nice to hear how it went.