Herbert L. Packer, Jackson Eli Reynolds Professor of Law, joined the Stanford Law School faculty in 1956. He served on the Attorney General’s Committee on Poverty and Federal Criminal Justice from 1961 to 1963; he was a reporter for the revision of the California Penal Code from 1964 to 1969; and he was Vice Provost of Stanford University from 1967 to 1969. Professor Packer died on December 6, 1972. He was the author of many scholarly writings including Ex-Communist Witnesses: Four Studies in Fact Finding, 1961; State Research in Anti-Trust Law, 1963; and The Limits the Criminal Sanction, 1968 for which he won the Coif Triennial Award in 1971. His articles have appeared in numerous periodicals such as the New Republic and the New York Review Books. More recently, he coauthored a study of the future of legal education for the Carnegie Commission with Dean Thomas Ehrlich.
As vice provost for academic planning and programs, he played a central role in the development of the Faculty Senate and in the creation of the University Fellows program. In 1969 he received the Lloyd W. Dinkelspiel Award, the University’s highest honor for service to undergraduate education.
Professor Packer is survived by his wife, Nancy, and their children, Annie and George. A memorial fund has been established at the Law School. On January 26, 1973 a memorial service was held at Stanford Memorial Church. Following are excerpts of the talks made in tribute to Professor Packer. Complete transcripts of the remarks in booklet form are available on request at the Law School.
Richard W. Lyman
President, Stanford University and Professor of History
“One of the reasons that he was such a scourge to idealogues of all schools was that he could be radical and conservative by turns, or both at the same time, and not (heaven knows!) because he was confused-confusion and Herb Packer were, as far as I can tell, lifelong and bitter enemies-but because he preferred the discomfort of striving to understand things as they actually are, rather than the slippered ease of having, intellectually, a place for everything and everything in its place.”
Dean, School of Law and Professor of Law
“Herb was a fascinating combination of qualities-often in conflict, always in tension. He was a rational analyst, and an emotional hipshooter; a long-range campaigner for educational reform, and an academic infighter.
“What a glorious classroom performer he was. He came to Stanford with an ability to squeeze out of those whom he taught-whether students or colleagues-all that was within them, and then some. Herb came with that gift, and he developed it to a fine art. . . .
“This is the real reason Herb made such an impact on the school and on our lives-he had such guts. True he was a remarkable mixture of brilliance, intellectual equipment, and philosophic clarity. But it was that certainty of principles and that total commitment to their protection that was unique. Herb could bristle like a porcupine on i”sues of principle. He was combative, contentious, and stubborn. This sometimes made him hard to live with. But it will be infinitely harder to live without him.”
William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Law
“For Herb, scholarly efforts, like the curriculum, could not be viewed as airtight compartments. Each undertaking was a specific manifestation of recurrent basic questions in the application of law to social problems: What are our goals? What means can contribute most effectively to those goals? Concern with basic philosophical questions, rigorous probing of assumptions pragmatic preoccupation with selecting the most suitable means for the most carefully articulated ends-those are characteristics of all of his writings.”
Leon E. Seltzer
Director, Stanford University Press
“For it was from Herb that many of us learned new standards of inquiry, the necessity of asking every important question, of insisting on answers good enough to entrust our lives to. And it was peculiarly at a university that Herb could give us a demonstration of what a life lived that way looked like. And what a glorious sight it was: of a mind-and a heart-fully extended, sensitive, warm, controlled, pregnant with tension, completely engaged. Engaged-that might be the word-a nuance, perhaps, beyond the philosophers’ ‘examined life’: the unengaged life, I think Herb might have said, required a certain amount of careful scrutiny if not justification. He demanded of himself-he asked of us-a performance not merely that stretched sensibility and intellect, but that also was constantly, wholly responsible. It was simply every man’s duty to care-and to act….
“From his engagement with life-from his insistence that the responsible man must think and act in a way that will benefit the society of which he is privileged to take part-came Herb’s particular concern with change in the structure and operations of institutions….
“In the end, we shall remember him at the height of his powers-a Herb of imagination and style, joyously engaged, of Mozartian courage -‘He was a whistler past graveyards,’ Nancy said the other day-taking on for us all the challenges, heavy and light, each man-made world lays fully on us, and leaving each place, surprised into a performance it did not know it held better than he found it. He would want us to remember him for that. And we will-gratefully, we will.”