Hail to the Chief
By Shelby Schultheis ’14
The Hon. Pascal F. Calogero, Jr., J.D. ’54, H’91, demonstrates a life of service to the legal community.
With his lifetime of hard work and dedication to upholding the law, Loyola University College of Law alumnus and retired Louisiana Supreme Court Chief Justice Pascal F. Calogero, Jr., J.D. ’54, H’91, has spent the better part of his 81 years respecting the rights of individuals while presiding over the Louisiana Supreme Court with integrity and compassion for 18 of his 36 years on the bench.
Calogero had a respect for the law instilled in him at a young age. By recognizing the gift his son had received with a scholarship to attend Loyola, Calogero’s father brought him to a local attorney’s office. The attorney told the young Calogero how he should register for classes to get the greatest benefit from his time at Loyola.
“It turned out that I loved the law from the start,” Calogero says. “I really enjoyed everything about it, and I still love it today. That decision was made not by me, but by my father, but it was a good one, a superb one.”
Calogero says that one of the benefits of attending Loyola was that it brought him out of the segregationist New Orleans as a youth, to a professional education at a remarkable Jesuit institution.
“I didn’t go to school with a black person until I was in my second year of law school,” Calogero says.
A Catholic education and the introduction to social justice also helped to shape Calogero during his time at Loyola. He graduated first in his law school class in June 1954.
His education and early exposure to politics in his neighborhood in downtown New Orleans began to generate an interest in Calogero to aspire to public office someday. After graduating and spending some time in the Army, Calogero formed a partnership with Moon Landrieu and Charles Kronlage, and together they started their own law firm.
“We did well from our very small office on Broad near Washington Avenue in New Orleans,” Calogero says. “It was a former dentist’s office atop the Kiddie Shop.”
After Landrieu was elected first to the House of Representatives and then City Council, Calogero and Kronlage moved their law practice to Baronne St. Two years later, Calogero ran for the Louisiana Supreme Court for the first time—and was elected in an uphill political race against a field of prominent opponents.
Calogero became the longest-serving justice in the history of the Louisiana Supreme Court. After being elected in 1972, he served for 36 years, spending 18 of those years as an associate justice and another 18 years as the chief justice, a position he received by virtue of seniority. In order to remain on the court, Calogero had to be elected four consecutive times.
“I know if I had lost and gone into debt from any of those campaigns and suffered the disruption in my legal career by a limited stint as a justice, it would have left me a less pleasant person perhaps. But I won each of the four races, and everything was clover,” Calogero says, “notwithstanding the disputes and contentiousness of the elections, because for each of the four times I ran for the office I was able to get out of the confinement of my office. I loved campaigning, I suppose, largely because I could meet the people of my four-parish district, shaking hands, making speeches, and essentially being a ‘peacock.’”
As chief justice, Calogero spearheaded numerous reform initiatives in the administration of justice in Louisiana, many of which serve as national models of court improvement. Throughout his career, he participated in more than 6,000 orally argued cases and authored more than 1,000 majority opinions, in addition to hundreds of concurrences and dissents.
In 1991, Calogero received the Louisiana Bar Foundation’s Distinguished Jurist Award and an honorary doctor of laws degree from Loyola. The following year, he received a master of laws degree in judicial process from the University of Virginia.
Calogero was one of the first inductees in the Louisiana Justice Hall of Fame. The Louisiana Bar Foundation instituted an annual Calogero Justice Award in his honor out of respect for his contributions in leading the Supreme Court to establish an IOLTA program (interest on lawyer’s trust accounts), which has allowed the foundation to distribute millions of dollars for the benefit of lawyer groups for the poor throughout the state. This award recognizes a local, state, or national organization or individual who has significantly contributed to Louisiana’s justice system.
In 2007, Calogero was given the Dwight D. Opperman Award for Judicial Excellence by the American Judicature Society.
On February 22, 2013, Calogero received the prestigious St. Ives Award at the College of Law Alumni Luncheon, which was held at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in New Orleans. The St. Ives Award is named for the patron saint of lawyers and is presented annually to an alumnus who has volunteered services to the College of Law or the university, has maintained the highest standards of the profession, and furthered the mission of the alumni association.
Calogero has 10 children, eight from his first wife and two from his second. Of the 10, six are lawyers (two of them are Loyola law graduates), one daughter a nurse, another daughter a teacher, one son a computer analyst, and another son a chief marine engineer.
Aside from spending time with his family, Calogero’s only other hobby is work. Refusing to retire after leaving the Louisiana Supreme Court in 2008, Calogero opened his own law practice sharing space with the law firm Ajubita, Leftwich, and Salzer, where his friend, Albert Ajubita, a tax attorney with a Loyola law degree himself, is a senior partner of a successful law firm.
“I am ‘of counsel’ to that firm, which means that I pay my own way and support myself entirely with no ownership interest in that firm,” Calogero says. “But with the help of my small staff and my abiding interest in the law and the legal profession, I’ve attracted enough business to be fairly successful.”
Calogero’s plans are to continue working until circumstances arrive that prevent him from doing so.
“My plans are to continue working until I can’t, or until enough of my friends tell me that I’m embarrassing myself or the profession, in which case I hope I’ll be smart enough to retire,” Calogero says while laughing. “More than likely, if I were to suffer a serious illness, it would put an end to my career. God willing, that won’t happen soon.”
Shelby Schultheis ’14 (English) is the publications intern for the Office of Marketing and Communications during the spring 2013 semester.
Read the remarks of the Hon. Pascal F. Calogero, Jr., J.D. ’54, H’91, when he received the St. Ives Award at the College of Law Alumni Luncheon.
View the complete spring 2013 issue of Loyola Lawyer.