Randy J. Holland Celebration of Life: William C. Koch, Jr. Remarks

Good afternoon. I’m Bill Koch from Tennessee, and I am here speaking on behalf of many of Randy’s colleagues in the American Inns of Court and on the state judiciaries all over this country that were affected by his wisdom and his friendship.

Randy Holland is my friend. I choose to use the present tense today because he is and will always be my friend.

I knew him as a catalyst, a collaborator, a constitutional scholar, a wise counselor, a cheerleader, and a droll comedian. Randy will continue to be present to each of us in our individual and shared memories of this kind and good and gentle man. As T.S. Eliot explained in Burnt Norton:

Time present and time past
Are both perhaps present in time future,
And time future contained in time past.

My comments this afternoon will have a dual focus – first on Randy’s transformative leadership of the American Inns of Court where our paths first crossed and then on our friendship that grew out of that first meeting.

Randy joined the American Inns of Court movement in 1990 when he helped found the Terry-Carey American Inn of Court here in Delaware. In two short years, he became the first state supreme court justice to serve as a trustee of the organization.

Early on, his fellow trustees decided to test Randy’s mettle with a daunting assignment. Chief Justice Warren Burger, the moving force behind the American Inns of Court, decided that lawyers who advertised should be barred from membership in the organization. The trustees had little appetite for this idea and dispatched their most junior member – Randy – to inform the Chief Justice that they did not favor his suggestion. Like Daniel in the lion’s den, Randy was victorious and, in the process, strengthened Chief Justice Burger’s commitment to the American Inns of Court.

Randy became the fifth President of the American Inns of Court in 2000 and served until 2004. During his tenure, he visited local Inns in forty states. He encouraged the formation of new Inns, particularly ones affiliated with a law school. He also strengthened the Inns’ working relationships with other national legal organizations, including the American Bar Association and the American Board of Trial Advocates.

Randy convinced the Conference of Chief Justices to adopt a resolution urging all state supreme courts to promote the creation of American Inns of Court in their state. He also encouraged his friends on the federal and state benches to support and actively participate in a local Inn of Court. At the end of Randy’s term, the American Inns of Court was the fastest growing national legal organization in the United States.

Randy’s commitment to the Inns of Court in Delaware never wavered. He helped establish five of Delaware’s six active Inns and continued to provide support and encouragement whenever called upon. The capstone of his efforts was laid in 2013 when the Randy J. Holland Delaware Workers Compensation American Inn of Court received its charter. It should come as no surprise that Delaware leads the country in the percentage of the members of the bench and bar who are also members of an American Inn of Court.

Randy’s work on behalf of the American Inns of Court had an international dimension as well. During his presidency, the American Inns of Court and the Irish Honorable Society of the King’s Inns signed a Declaration of Friendship. The organization also forged stronger ties with the four English Inns of Court, the British Bar Council, and Combar, the organization of the English and Welch Bar for commercial barristers.

Bill Koch and Randy Holland at the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom

This “good boy from Milford” (as Judge Latchum called him) did not undertake any of these tasks for fame, honors, or glory. Yet, others saw his good work and praised it. He is one of only two persons to receive both of the Inns’ most prestigious national awards – the A. Sherman Christensen Award for distinguished and exceptional leadership of the American Inns of Court movement and the Lewis F. Powell Award for Professionalism and Ethics. Randy was also elected an Honorary Bencher of Lincoln’s Inn in London, a distinction rarely bestowed on Americans.

Justice John Paul Stevens, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Justice Randy J. Holland – The only three Americans named as honorary Masters of the Bench

This same Randy Holland who took the American Inns of Court to new heights and who had the ear of leaders of the bench and bar both in the United States and England also made time for me. We first met in the fall of 1999 at the Celebration of Excellence in Washington. Randy was the organization’s newly elected president; I was the new kid on the block.

In short order, we became good friends, and our wives became like sisters. It was in this setting that I came to experience Randy’s warmth and whimsy. In addition to his judicial robe, I discovered that Randy once had a red plaid suit, as well as Snoopy and Easter Bunny costumes in his closet. He liked funny hats, particularly on other people. A denizen of the Rehoboth Beach boardwalk, he was a Skee Ball wizard who sharpened his skill with his own Skee Ball machine in his basement.

Ilona Holland, Bill and Debby Koch, Randy Holland

I also learned that Randy enjoyed celebrating birthdays and holidays, particularly the lesser known holidays. April Fools Day was one of his favorites.

On occasion, he celebrated that day internationally. Not even chief justices could evade Randy on April Fools day.

Another favorite holiday was Flag Day. After deciding that Flag Day was best celebrated by shopping, Randy faithfully emailed my wife each and every year to remind her to go shopping. For example, in 2017 he wrote:

Dear Debby,

Only a few hours to shop on Flag Day. You should also know that today is President Trump’s birthday. So this could be a double shopping day in the future.

Best always, Randy.

With Randy’s encouragement, Ilona and Debby became shopping juggernauts. In this sense, Randy was a retail enabler – particularly when it came to jewelry or arts and crafts. While I am the richer for Randy’s friendship, I must say I am the poorer for some of his emails to Debby.

The Hollands and the Kochs also traveled together in the United States and England. Whether it was Las Vegas – yes Randy wanted to go to Las Vegas to see Celine Dion – or Broadway, London, Chester, Nashville, or Rehoboth Beach, Debby and I treasure our adventures with Randy and Ilona.

Randy, Don Lemons, Mike McConnell, and I started a book club during the COVID pandemic. Our early choices were weighty, non-fiction tomes, but our tastes changed as the pandemic slouched along.

Randy’s last suggestion was Ryan Holiday’s, The Daily Stoic. On March 15th, the day that Randy died, the selected reading in The Daily Stoic was taken from The Meditations by Marcus Aurelius. It contained a passage saying that “the present moment lasts the same for all and is all anyone possesses.” I cannot help but think that this was Randy reminding us that each day is a gift and this is why it is called the “present.”

From left: Randy Holland, Don Lemons, and Bill Koch

Ilona, Ethan, Jennifer, Rori, Chloe, and Jim you are most fortunate to have shared your lives with this wonderful, caring soul mate, father, grandfather, and brother. His love for each of you knows no boundaries.

Now he has joined the blessed company of saints. In your thoughts and conversations, recount the stories of his humility, his kindness, his legal brilliance, his acts of courage and conviction, and the influence he has had on you, his community, and the law. He will be there when you tell the stories. We too will tell our stories about him.

In a 2005 article, Randy wrote that “satisfaction is… the knowledge that others depended on your judgment, your loyalty, and your abilities, and that at the end of the day, that you had, in fact, helped.” Randy, we did and still do depend on your judgment, loyalty, and abilities. Your good works and good deeds have added to the sum of humanity. Well done, my friend, well done indeed.

This April 30, 2022.

With respect, William C. Koch, Jr.

William C. Koch Jr. (born September 12, 1947) is a former justice of the Tennessee Supreme Court. Prior to his appointment to the court in 2007, he served 23 years on the Tennessee Court of Appeals. He retired from the court on July 15, 2014, and accepted the position of dean at Nashville School of Law.

Like Randy, Koch received his LL.M. in Judicial Process from the University of Virginia School of Law. Koch has taught Constitutional Law at the Nashville School of Law since 1997.

Koch served as the American Inns of Court president from 2018-2020. He is also the president of the Harry Phillips American Inns of Court.

One response to “Randy J. Holland Celebration of Life: William C. Koch, Jr. Remarks”

  1. Justice Koch’s remarks answered my question. How did Justice Holland get so much done on a personal and professional level? He made the most of the present moment. We all benefited from that. I particularly enjoyed the pictures that accompanied this post.

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