Daniel Josef Freed, Fall of 2009
Dan was able to hear all of the letters sent to him before he passed away, though towards the end he could only nod when he heard. But he was very moved by all of them, and felt absolutely bathed in love.
Please feel very comfortable to continue sending messages to firstname.lastname@example.org, or to leave comments below.
Danny and I were good friends, though distance kept us apart in our later lives. When we graduated from YLS in 1951, he and I were together on our first job, as two of the four interns on Senator Lyndon Johnson’s Preparedness Subcommittee. I am sure that Danny took that job for the same reasons I did: the subcommittee had played a key — perhaps even vital — role in World War II under then Senator Harry Truman, deeply probing problems in the interface between the economic war effort and the military effort. When we graduated from law school, the Korean War was on, and we expected that the Committee would play a similar role there.
Unfortunately, that did not turn out to be the case, references to the subcommittee in Robert Caro’s definitive biography of President Johnson notwithstanding. The job was a disappointing introduction to law practice for Dan as it was for me, though we both in our respective and quite different ways overcame that beginning, and as you know, Dan went on to make very major contributions to the law, particularly in the field of fairness and decency in criminal sentencing. Dan and I also shared a house as bachelors at the time we left YLS, and I became very fond of him. He was always bright and decent and warm; and I am proud to have known him and to have been a friend. Though we did not see much of one another in recent times, I will miss him.
– Kurt Melchior
Dear Peter, Talya, and Teo,
We were so, so sorry to hear of your loss. Please know that our thoughts are with you during this difficult time. We had very much hoped to come up to Vermont for the ceremony this past weekend; my parents said it was beautiful, that you all spoke so lovingly. Your father, Peter, always stood out as one of the warmest and most gentle people I knew. I have many memories of him (and of you all, of course) from my very earliest days; I remember in particular a Passover at your house in Guilford (must have been over 25 years ago), which remains one of my all-time favorite Passovers largely because of the humor and kid-friendly intellect with which he led the Seder–he convincingly explained to me a sudden and well-timed burst of wind and rustling of leaves at the front door as the coming of Elijah, and despite his wink at the time, I still sort of believe him. I was always so happy to run into him in Brattleboro, and I was thrilled, when I first moved to New York, to run into him once in the West Village. Whenever we spoke, he had the ability to make me feel, even when I was very young, that I had important and interesting things to say. I feel very lucky to have known him.
I would have preferred to write you a proper letter, but I can’t seem to find your address, so an email will have to suffice for now. I do hope that we can see you all soon. It has been too long. I look forward to seeing how the boys interact with each other these days; Teo must be on the verge of vertical movement. What a blessing that your father was able to be a part of Teo’s life, and Teo of his.
-All our love,
-Daniel and Marianne (Tober)
I would like to convey my most sincere sympathy to Judy, yourself and all the family on Dan’s death. It was one of the saddest moments of my life when I visited the Yale Law School site and learned of his death. The only consolation was that it was a Monday evening and I had just completed a round trip of about 250 miles from Galway to Cork (here in Ireland) to give a class on sentencing to a group of trainee lawyers. I think Dan would have approved.
In 1987, I made the best decision of my life when I turned down offers from Harvard and other law schools to attend Yale for the LL.M. programme precisely because it had a sentencing course that sounded interesting. Early in September 1987 I met Dan for the first time. The warmth of his welcome and the depth of his interest and encouragement made that year a wonderful experience. Many others have written about his sentencing clases in which I was privileged to participate every Friday. He was always available, always interested and ever encouraging. I can still picture himself and Joe Goldstein wandering into the cafeteria for an early morning coffee. From some of the recent tributes, I gather that they swam together was well, but I wouldn’t have known that, not being the atlethic type!
There are so many memories I could share, but I will just mention two. After returning to Ireland to teach, I kept in touch with Dan and he kept me supplied with the Federal Sentencing Reporter. In Spring 1993 while on Sabbatical in England, I made a short trip to Yale and it was truly like coming home because of the warmth of Dan’s welcome. It happened to coincide with his workshop for the Alabama judges. One everning, he and Judy hosted us at their beautiful New Haven home and it was one of the most pleasant occasions I have ever enjoyed. The Goldsteins were there as, of course, was Peter Kougasian with his magic tricks.
And then about three years ago, I realised a longstanding ambition when I persuared Dan to come to Galway as he and Judge did. It was wonderful to have them there. Dan captirvated the students and something unique happened when they decided quite spontaneously that they would buy him a gift. I never before, or since, saw such a spontaneous gesture on the part of students, but those who knew Dan would not have found it in any way suprising.
We all feel bereft by his passing and he was, as the Federal Sentencing Reporter put it, a true giant both as a scholar and as a person. I am working towards the completion of a book entitled Principled Discretion: Towards A Coherent Sentencing System. Dan approved of the title, I am glad to say, one day while we were driving in Galway. I had intended to dedicate to him, but will now sadly, but enthusiastically, be dedicating to his memory.
With every good wish to Judy and all the family at this difficult time.
School of Law
The only annoying thing about Dan Freed was he had absolutely no appetite for gossip.
– Gerry Kaplan
I can still hear Dan’s voice — so gentle and nurturing and always asking good questions. He will be missed.
– Jean Bellow
Judy, Peter, Emily…and Dan !
Days and Nights in New Haven and Vermont….
I not only hear you, Dan, say “let’s go to Ashley’s”….but also…”…oh, maybe just s small piece..”, “Lovey, that may be too much…but I’ll try it…thank you.” (and then you, Judy, would laugh and giggle from head to toe….not yet handing him his folk…) Dan..with the extraordinary mind, quick to the humor, the sweet voice, tenderness in delivery and that child-like smile that melts me to this very day !
and…I do love you, Judy, very much. He was and IS who he is because of you two TOGETHER !
I had not seen Dan in some years, but his kindness, warmth and generosity remain vivid. He welcomed me to Yale in 1983 as an eager new associate dean. Indeed, Dan sent two of the most exceptional public interest student advocates to see me even before I came officially to New Haven — a gesture simultaneously thoughtful (to assure me I had made a wise choice) and gently but brilliantly strategic (to assure that my commitment to the public interest issues about which he cared so deeply would be cemented). How very characteristic.
It was a privilege to be his student and ally as I put my shoulder to the public interest wagon he and an amazing group of students had so long and wisely been moving forward. I admired his patience and willingness to walk the path of discovery year after year with new students, and the boundless energy and joy he brought to our work. Yale’s reputation for leadership in public interest law, and specifically its remarkable loan forgiveness program, owe more to Dan than most will ever know.
Dan, and you, Judy, were always kind to Gary and me, and like so many others we could see and aspire to the closeness and respect that you shared. We join the many, many friends who were honored and warmed to have been touched by Dan, although we could not be with you for the cookies and milk. I am glad that Dan’s twinkle was bright until the end.
Peter – how good it was to discover Dan’s website. Thank you for letting us share in the tears and smiles. We were so, so sad to learn of Dan’s passing. I know you hear this over and over again, but he was the kindest man, and without him, there seems to be a hole in the universe. Please give our love to everyone. We will see you next Sunday. I’m so glad you are having this memorial. Is there anything we can do to help? Kisses to all, Felicia and Jim (Tober)
I have many happy memories of hanging out at the Freeds’ house on Lawrence St. Dan and Judy were so generous to provide a place for Peter, Emily, and their friends to watch movies, eat, and talk, and talk, and talk. In fact, I think most of my memories involve conversations–conversations that could be lighthearted, serious, or political, or all of the above. I remember Dan Freed as a benevolent and bemused presence. I knew he was a distinguished lawyer and law professor, of course, but I always thought of him as Peter’s and Emily’s dad. Thank you Mr. Freed for these memories.
– Carol Faulkner
Dear Judy and family,
I haven’t seen much of you since our year teaching together at Bank Street School for Children in 1964, but I have continued to hear about you, and loved catching up with you once in New Haven. I read with deepest sorrow about the death of your beloved husband in the New York Times last night and so today followed all leads for how I could get in touch with you.
Just found https://danfreed.wordpress.com/ and have read every word, with tears of sorrow and of joy for a life so well lived.
We will send a donation but I want you Judy and your family to know that the person I read about just now is the Judy I knew from many years ago at Bank Street—inspiring, loving, dedicated—a unique and visionary luminary in education. You have meant more to me over the years than you may ever know, but I hear your words again and again in my mind and have always followed the path you showed me in 1964.
With much love and sympathy,
Ellen May Galinsky
For Judy, Peter and Emily,
I met Dan in 1977 when Abe Goldstein introduced us. He said that Dan was doing important work on bail, and perhaps he could find a place for me. When I arrived at Dan’s office it was of course difficult to find a place to sit among the many books and articles. Dan was curious about what I had done in the past and what I wanted to do in the future. He asked lots of questions, as was characteristic of him. This was the beginning of a long and singular bond for me that began as student and teacher, and slowly over the years evolved into a close friendship, through which Gabi and I were able to share with Dan and Judy and Peter and Emily. Our sons Itamar, Eytan and Daniel also enjoyed the warmth and caring of the Freed family. It is a measure of our view of Dan that we chose the name Daniel for our son Daniel, who along with Eytan, spent the first few weeks of his life in the Freed family house, which we had the very good fortune of making our home during the summer of 1983 when our twins were born.
I began to get a sense of the special person I had met when I participated as a student in Dan’s sentencing workshop at the law school. Dan had a magic ability to ask questions, to probe people’s minds, to get in and under the thoughts of others and to learn what his professional counterparts really think about the subject in question. This ability to inquire in a deep way and then respond in the most thoughtful of manner is one of the main qualities of Dan that I recall so well. It bridged professional and personal life; Dan asked not only professional questions, but also personal questions, when the appropriate place and time so permitted.
Appropriateness in place and time were essential to Dan’s sense of action and restraint. In my experience, Dan was fundamentally concerned in life, in all respects, with ethics. I think that his commitment to ethics, his intuitive sense of ethical behavior and ethical feeling, informed all parts of his life. It must have been at the root of his overriding concern with equality in the criminal justice system, in the law generally, and in personal and social life. Dan was not motivated by acquisition of a place for himself, but rather with promotion of others to places where they deserved to be, whether it be students, the underprivileged in the bureaucracy of everyday life, minorities and the poor in the criminal justice system, or friends and acquaintances, as well as the regular persons who appeared on his scene in everyday life in regard to whom he made a conscious effort to generate the greatest respect and to imbue the highest dignity. Dan was a deeply loyal person, loyal to his values, to his friends and colleagues, to his family.
It is my view that Daniel Freed made an enormous contribution to law in different ways. Dan was dedicated to the reform of the law in the fields of legal aid, the right to release from prolonged arrest, and the right to equality and humanity for persons facing prison sentences. Motivating this striving for reform, I think, was the strongest possible notion that freedom from arbitrariness lies at the heart of a democratic society. Dan had a commitment to the creation and maintenance of a legal system that guides the overwhelming power of discretion to its least harmful results.
Another major contribution to the law, which is of course linked to reform possibilities, was Dan’s refinement of a special teaching methodology. The workshops that Dan devised and conducted for many years at Yale Law School constituted an on-going forum in which students and experienced professionals learned from each other not only how to upgrade the protection of freedoms in the criminal justice system, but also learned the method for communicating the important messages of reform to others. The method was based on the assumption that students must learn not only from the treatises of the law, but from the people who make and apply the law in their professional capacities. The workshops demonstrated persuasively that that law is fashioned by people in the legal system making low visibility decisions. Dan’s method was centered on making visible what otherwise would remain far from the eye and mind.
I for one adopted wholeheartedly the method of the workshop forum I learned from Dan, and attempted in my own way to use it at the Tel-Aviv University Law School where I had the privilege and satisfaction of trying to help law students understand the situation of the underprivileged in the criminal justice system. Dan’s methodology made it possible for me to generate recognition and concern among law students, many of whom eventually chose public interest careers, with the aim of reforming the criminal justice of Israeli, in ways similar to those advanced by Dan. In this important way, I have sometimes seen myself as a kind transmitter of the criminal justice reform that Dan defined for his own setting, complementary justice reform that Israeli students could seek in their own legal system. Dan was a guest participant in the Israeli workshop, that was self consciously created in the image of the workshop lead by him at Yale. Dan was also a guest consultant of the new Public Defender’s Office of the State of Israel, which had grown out of the Tel-Aviv University Law School Workshop. I could feel in these meetings that Dan was connecting to roots that Israel represented for him.
I am deeply thankful for the opportunity, somehow given to me, to meet Dan Freed, and to have shared in drawing from his wisdom and his ethics, and from his warmth as a loyal friend. Since I moved to Israel years ago I have missed him very much. Life’s exigencies put many miles between us, but I surely will never forget him or his family.
– Kenneth Mann
Dear Judy and All Freed Family Members;
I extend to you my sincerest sympathy on Dan’s passing. We in Guilford have gained so much from our association with Dan. I think especially of the Board of Civil Authority where his calm manner and wisdom were so valuable regarding town affairs, and at the meetings of the Friends Of Algiers Village, Inc. where his very presence gave us hope and strength.
Personally, I have never known a man for whom I felt so much respect and affection. I can’t write this without tears in my eyes. Most of us were only dimly aware of his professional career and knew him only as one of us in our small, rural town. His great modesty never betrayed his many and sensitive contributions to the law and to human decency. He has left a beautiful legacy.
My love to all of you,
Thank you Peter, for letting us all glimpse your father’s last moments. It seems to me that men who have lived good lives die good deaths. They don’t like it but they do.
My father’s death was so similar. Including the rally on his last day — a Sunday. He had breakfast, lunch and dinner with us — all at home in Connecticut. The day before, the hospice nurse had been very clear with us about what was coming. On Monday, he woke his caretaker at dawn and asked to get up. He had breakfast, and asked Attah to wake my mother. They sat together for an hour, talking. Then he said he was tired and wanted a nap. My mother and Attah tucked him in — she went out to plant peppers. When she went to give him some water, and hour later, he had died. He liked to do things in private — he got to say his goodbyes.
You will always remember these things. I can hear the last time he said my children’s names — and used his special voice for each — our kissing and saying goodbye, all on that rally Sunday night. The feeling of happiness (and I am sorry to say, hope) that burst of energy gave me. The call at 10:30 the next morning.
The love and support from friends — especially from Yale.
We have been lucky children. I am so sorry that he is gone — please express this to your whole family — and my gratitude for making it possible for those in this extended community of grief to share our thoughts and memories.
I did love your dad very much. He sparkled.
– Catie Marshall (Daughter of Burke Marshall)
I am so sorry!!! My mom gave me the sad news last night.
I wish I lived closer. I really miss you guys. Please know that I am with you in spirit. I loved your dad. he was literally like a part of my extended family. he was one of the best men I’ve ever known. love you peter freed. please give a hug to emily, amy and of course your mom.
Dan was always lovely to me and he was fun to talk to and such a great
person. We would do this for anyone, but we do it with a little extra love
for Dan! Everyone here on the administration–from the dean’s office to the
IT department– liked him and was so sorry to hear of his illness. We all
have fond memories of him and are thinking of all of you.
– Janet Conroy
Please accept my condolences on your Dad’s death. My mother, Edith Freed Penzner, felt a special bond to him and very much appreciated his calling her just before she died in 2007. He touched my life as well. While a senior in college, I visited your parents in New Haven in November 1969 in order to obtain “life advice.”
I am sorry to hear about the passing of your father. I knew your father as a kind and thoughtful man. He always had a mirthful twinkle in his eye, and an incredible interest in helping others. Though it is a great loss, I am certain that he was happy to be surrounded by his loving family. Hope that you are as well as you can be, and I look forward to another opportunity to catch-up (though no chance encounter can be top our ‘traffic stop’ in San Francisco). Please give my best to your entire family, Tom (Priest)
DEAR PETER EMILY JUDY, WE ARE DEEPLY SADDENED TO LEARN OF DAN’S PASSING AWAY. HE WAS A KEY PART OF OUR LIVES AND VERY MUCH A MODEL FOR ME. HIS LESSONS AND DEMEANOR AND CARING HAVE ALWAYS BEEN STRONGLY FELT IN ME.
WE ARE ON A WILDERNESS TRIP OUTSIDE OF ISRAEL. WE WILL CALL AS SOON AS WE CAN.
LOVE KEN AND GABI (Mann)
Peter: My world, the world, is diminished big time without My Friend Dan. I am so sad, and I hope you know, and your Mom, and your sister know , how my thoughts and prayers are with you. Someplace, somewhere, Dan is still sharing his delight in ideas, pushing, questioning, examining, and doing so in his own, unique warm and wonderful way. I will always treasure what we had together for so many years.
Love, Milty (Heumann)
Dan Freed was and will always be a guiding light for students at Yale Law School. He modeled and taught the very human dimensions of being a lawyer – compassion, grace and care, in addition to excellent intellectual analysis. His gentle smile and that warm twinkle in his eyes have left an enduring mark on generations; an immeasurable gift. Thank you for sharing him with all of us.
Peter, Judy, and all your family
I was in London giving talks and am just back to be greeted with this terribly sad news. I just wanted [not for the web, as of yet, but for you all] to say how much Dan was a role model and mentor. Dan’s generous and friendly support of me in my very junior years stays with me – and reminds me to try to reciprocate by doing the same for others.Dan put me in a position to do research on women in prison, made me the temporary head of the Guggenheim program here when he took a leave, honed my interests in prison, sentencing, habeas, the Department of Justice (in its best incarnations) and much else. He was a warm and wonderful supporter of so many of us, and I am lucky to have had known him, worked with him, and been launched through his help and friendship. Judy, you were so welcoming when I came to town, and co-hosted many dinners at your home. I hope to see you soon to say thanks in person, and sorrow.In short, I feel honored and grateful to have known and worked with Dan.
Hello..I would like to share these words with Emily and her family about her father..although I did not meet Mr. Dan Freed it is apparent that he was a truly great man; I can say this because I know his daughter Emily. She shared a deep connection with him and would speak so warmly about their relationship. He was a man full of love, kindness and a true genteel nature. His legacy will live on in his children and grandchildren; but his positive energy and being will influence us all to be better to others and aware of all the blessings we have in this life. Love you Emily and my thoughts and prayers are with you…Natasha (Larrando)
So sorry to hear this Peter (unfortunately I’ve been out of the country with very limited web access and only saw this mail today).
Please let your father know that, though across the ocean, my thoughts are with him. Thank him (& your mom) for having opened their home to us all so generously when growing up.
Also send hopes of strength to you and your family, I can’t imagine what you, your mom, sister & Dad are going through now, but let me know if there’s anything I can help with from here. Take care, and keep in touch.
Love, Josh (Murray)
Jonathan, Amy, Peter and Emily, I just wanted to send a short note to let you know how sorry I am about your Dad’s death earlier today. He was such a wonderful person. I will always remember his smile, accompanied by that clever Freed twinkle in his eye, and his youthful energy. His body may have let him down during his illness but his zest for life was still very apparent. I particularly loved the poem he wrote that you posted on the website – I plan to hang it up at home.
I know this is a very difficult time for all of you, but hopefully it’s comforting to know that your Dad died peacefully and surrounded by those he loved most. I also like to think that he has had a warm reception on the other side by friends and relatives, including my mom (no doubt with a hot meal and some chocolate chip cookies.) My thoughts are with you.
Didi (St. Pierre nee Freed)
I could not have been luckier during my first year at Wooster than to have your daughter, Emily, as my roommate. Countless nights we lay awake laughing and telling stories. How often Emily would recount hilarious antics of the Freed family she experienced growing up. How often these stories were punctuated with reminders of her close relationship with you. This past week, as I was talking with Emily, I commented on what a beautiful memory I have of you toasting her and Felix at their wedding. The joy with which you expressed your thoughts and feelings at this special occasion truly warmed my heart and reminds me so much of Emily’s joyful and loving outlook on life. What a tremendous legacy of love.
Diana Cushman Stefaniuk
Dan, If you hear this, greetings and a fond embrace from another former student who made sentencing a career. As a third-year student, I was part of the original 1974 Sentencing Policy seminar that you and Denny Curtis organized at Yale Law School, with so many illustrious jurists and scholars of that time as guest participants. From you I learned the policy perspective, when most of what I had heard and known until then about sentencing and post-conviction, as a Danbury Project participant and co-author of an extensive student study of the pilot project Parole Guidelines, was on the technical legal side. For over 30 years, following a few years of teaching, I have been a private practice criminal defense lawyer subspecializing in sentencing, appeals and other post-conviction aspects of the system. I try to bring to those efforts the same combination of humanity, dedication and intelligence that I received from my best teachers, as I do in my volunteer work on sentencing for FAMM, ALI and NACDL. Your students carry on your work in so many ways. It was wonderful to see you again last year at the LSO reunion. The outpouring of appreciation on this website is well deserved. Thank you for your wisdom and inspiration.
Prof. Freed was my favorite teacher. Just this past Friday, not knowing of his illness, I gave a lecture that focused on his teaching at St. Thomas law school in Minnesota. I hope you won’t mind posting the following on the tribute blog:
Prof. Freed is the warm, kind, brilliant, engaged teacher who probably never realized the profound effect he has on his students. He engaged us on many levels– challenging our beliefs and ideas at the same time that he challenged us personally and supported us in our endeavors. He is the reason, the primary reason, that I am a law teacher (I wanted to be like him), that I am passionate about sentencing (he was right to care so much), and that I try to be fully human with my students (he was that, as well).
There are bonds of love that tie the world together– romantic love, agape love, love within faith– but the bond between a teacher and student is nothing less than any of those. It is one we carry on forever, that survives even death. If there is immortality on this world, it is that, and there is no one, no one, who has achieved it more stunningly than Daniel Freed. Yes, it is his spirit that carried forward in Blakely, in Booker, in Kimbrough, in Spears, but more importantly in what we all teach, which is a lengthening of his own mind and passion across space and time to our own students, who will go on to accomplish things we cannot imagine.
I, too, am a Freedian forever.
Dear Ones: we just heard in Italy from Diana and Bob Post. We are with you in our thoughts and prayers and in all the grateful and happy memories of what Dan has meant to us as a friend, and knowing what he has meant to Yale and the whole world. His work and his kindness will be remembered as long as there are people who teach, the young and the old, Dan’s gifts prove that the law can truly help those in need and make society better for all.. We love you. Anne and Guido (Callebresi)
I like to think of myself as a Dan Freed “pretrial release protege.”
Just last week I was remembering our seminars and many discussions on this subject, when the NYTimes reported on favorable treatment of white collar defendants (e.g., Madow).
Although I am no longer involved in bail decisions on a daily basis (I left the bench to become a full time mediator and arbitrator almost 15 years ago), I continue to be inspired by Dan’s commitment to systemic change in social institutions. I frequently mediate (pro bono) disputes involving systemic failures (e.g., conditions of confinement at mental hospitals, waiting list for juveniles to move from mental hospitals to residential treatment centers, failure of a new computer systems for delivering publis assistance benefits), and am hoping to lend a hand in resolving the recent suit over the use of excessive force and failure to provide adequate psychiatric services to juveniles in New York detention centers.
I do think of this as Dan’s legacy.
I am here in Washington and heard about your Dad. I love him. He was always so kind to me, in every way, from the day I walked into Yale Law School. I still see him and Joe Goldstein, in my mind’s eye, swimming over the Payne Whitney Gym. I am traveling abroad and did not want to bother you with a call, but please send him my love. He does not know how many lives he touched, but mine was certainly one of them.
As a friend of Emily’s since she was 8 years old, I have seen her love of her father — and his of her — from when she was in pigtails up through her wedding when he ‘gave her way’ with the kindest words. I have never seen such a beautiful love between a father and his daughter! I thank Dan for making Em the incredibly sweet and giving person that I have always known her to be, and for supporting her 100% through all of her ups and downs.
Dan, my wife Karina and I sadly, only have had the privilege of meeting you at the marriage of Peter and Talya, my niece. We were then able to see why Peter and your dear wife Judy were so very proud of you (and you of them and all your family). You gave a wonderful speach welcoming Talya into your family with my brother Martin and Orna my sister in law. Your humour and gentleness shone through and although I was only able to speak with you a short few words it was very evident that you were so happy and full of pride at the bringing together of your lovely family. We have since learned of your brave fight and the dignity and spirit you have shown in facing your illness. You are an inspiration to all who know you and a comfort to Judy by being who you are. Karina and I wish you well, have comfort from the love from all who know you.
Warren and Karina (Boston)
I met Emily’s dad for the 1st time on her wedding day. I remember clearly his wonderful warm smile and his amazing loving words he shared about his daughter, Emily, and his son-in-law, Felix, and the immense joy he felt on their wedding day. He shared his happiness so freely for us all to see and made sure that myself and my husband, and all of Emily’s guests enjoyed a wonderful evening of celebration.
Dear Dan – Although Ron sent his wishes from both of us, I have to let you know how much you mean to me. I didn’t go to an Ivy League school, don’t have a law degree, and stumbled upon sentencing only after my brother received a mandatory minimum for growing marijuana. But you treated me with the respect and dignity that you showed everyone. You assumed that my ability to tackle sentencing policy was as good as any of your students. Your confidence in me was inspiring – and maybe a little intimidating because the last thing I wanted to do was disappoint Dan Freed! But I loved the challenges you posed, always presenting new questions about what good sentencing policy is. What does it look like? You didn’t pose the questions knowing the answer – you, too, were trying to figure it out, which I loved. You never tired of analyzing sentencing policy. I love you, Dan. I will miss your dear smile, and soft voice, and deep wisdom. I hope you can go in peace, knowing how many lives you have touched, and how much you have contributed to this world. Goodbye, dear friend and teacher.
Professor Freed taught the sentencing workshop I took in my third year of law school. He was brilliant and also warm and funny. He was one of my favorite teachers, for his insight and the depth of his experience, and for the utter care he took in his interactions with students. When you had his attention, you had it fully. He gave the kind of intense, provocative feedback that makes us better. Better thinkers and better human beings. My older son Eli was born two weeks before that workshop began. Dan and Denny Curtis and Judge Gertner let me bring Eli to class for the first several weeks, when he could be more or less relied on to sleep through it. Dan was gracious and funny about the whole thing and made me feel the opposite of self-conscious. He was a rare person. I got to see him last year; I’m so glad I had that chance to catch up.
Thinking of you and your family,
Emily and Peter,
My love and prayers are with you both right now. Your dad is such a special person – I have always thought of him as such a lovely man and wonderful father. Although I have memories of him at Wooster and New Haven and Vermont – I will most remember his wonderful comments about Em at her wedding this summer. He may be known by many as a great teacher, scholar and lawyer, but I know him as a great dad – full of love and kindness accepting you both as exactly the people you are. His memory and sprit will live through both of your lives and those of your wonderful children. I pray for God’s peace and comfort for you and your mom.
Marcy and I are here in Morocco at a Yale Law School conference where we just heard about your dad’s condition. We have such fond memories of our times with him, Judy, and you and Emily that we are filled with sadness and sympathy for what you all must be going through. Know that you are in our thoughts and please send our love to the other Freeds. Hang in there.
All my love to Professor Freed and his family from another former student of his wonderful, wonderful class. I have no doubt it is one of the reasons why I am a criminal defense attorney today.
You will be missed.
So, it seems as though you and the family have arrived at
a decision that I support fully. It is still a very sad time, however.
I am glad that he got to be in NYC for the birth of the grandchild.
Your support, above all, has been an amazing thing to witness over the
last 6 months. I wish you, Dan, and the family peace and comfort during
this time. Please give my best wishes to Dan.
Please give him a hug for me and tell him that I’m thinking of him…and that the coke and chocolate is OK with his cardiologist!
Dan Freed has a smile that always warmed my heart.
I am sure you all would agree
Thank you for allowing me to share as well,
I was Dan’s secretary for many years at the law school. I am so sorry to hear about Dan and pray that I could do something for him. He is in my deep thoughts and prayers and wish I could tell him how much I will miss him. Whenever we spoke he would always say Love you, Dan…..I will miss that. Judy, Dan was so fortunate to have you as his angel through all of this and he so often expressed how lucky he was to have you.I send my love to all of you and prayers during this difficult time.
I know you mostly as Emily’s father, and though you are much more than that, it’s a role you have perfected. Emily is a tribute to your kindness and gentle way. I remember your picking up Emily in front of school, your driving us up to Vermont, your patient listening to us playing duets on the recorder, your talking to us about current events, your being the kindest father and quiet center of the family where I always felt so welcome and comortable. Later you gave me guidance and inspiration in my career, and you danced with Emily at her wedding. My family sends love and best wishes to you and your family.
I am so sad to hear about Dan. I first met him 25 years ago, and in every encounter over the years, I found Dan to be one of the gentlest, most supportive, kindest human beings on the planet. He was always interested in the work of others, dealt with difficult situations with a smile and sage advice, and, above all, and, somehow, always made things seem a little better. He truly made the world a better place.
Dearest Uncle Dan,
With Harvey away on the west coast, you were elected my favorite uncle. From when I shot off a cap gun in the FBI building when I was 6 years old (imagine doing that now) when you took us on a tour to finding my fishing hook in the mouth of the shark Jonathan caught to Peter and Tanya’s wonderful wedding at your farm, you have been a shinning part of my life and I am glad for it all. I love you and will always have you in my heart.
Your Nephew Rick (Freed)
I am so sorry to hear the news about Dan. I have worked at the Law School in IT for 20 years and always enjoyed my interactions with your father. He was curious, kind and appreciative when we assisted him with his computer questions and problems over the years. He was a delight to work with and somehow managed to break things in the most creative ways.
On a personal note, he was very thoughtful and committed to those he worked with. I will really miss him.
Please let your dad know that he continues to have a very profound
impact on how I view sentencing and sentencing issues. I become Chief Judge
of the Third Circuit Court of Appeals this May and I intend to devote 2
Judicial Conferences to sentencing issues to try to sensitize trial judges
to the extent to which sentences – even those under the guidelines (and
perhaps especially those under the guidelines) are based on assumptions
that are either not supported by fact-based analysis or is perhaps
contradictory to what empirical evidence would suggest.
If I have any measure of success at all, it will be due solely to Dan
and even if I don’t, I know that his impact will still be felt by the
countless students and judges who have been touched by his sensitivity and
insights over the years. I would love to be able to end this by saying “Get well Dan.”
However, it sounds from your email that things have progressed beyond the
point of such social niceties. I will therefore end by saying: “Dan, you
lived not only well, but splendidly and I remain grateful that our paths
crossed. I thank you so very much for the role you played in my nomination
by President Clinton and subsequent confirmation and I will continue to
look forward to reading cases that will bear your imprint even though the
parties and judges involved may not know of the impact you have had on
them.” One more thing, our former Chief Judge, Ed Becker had a saying that he
used to say was the highest praise that can be bestowed upon one by people
from South Philadelphia. I am not from “South Philly,” but I will use that
phrase anyway; “Dan, ya done good.”
Your eternal friend and “compadre”
Thank you for being such an extraordinary teacher and example. Yale is a small place, but for much of my time there I felt lost in the crowd. Your sentencing class and being part of the Guidelines anniversary conference helped me find my way. The things I learned writing a paper with you–and with the assistance of your vast network of friends in the sentencing policy world–are endlessly useful in my work on Capitol Hill. You were the professor I most wanted my parents to meet on graduation day, and I will never forget how you went out of your way to speak with them and the kind things you said. I will be forever grateful for the privilege of knowing and learning from you.
He is accomplished — and courageous and strong and smart and dear and
my hero. Would you please just give him some kisses for me? I wish I
were there in bed with the two of you so I could do it myself.
Fuerte hugs and kisses to you, extraordinary person!! Genie Shields
All of us at the Yale Law Library are saddened to hear about Dan Freed’s deteriorating health. He’s been a terrific colleague and lovely human being who we’ve enjoyed working with on his many research projects over the years. We’ll miss seeing and learning from him in his continuing quests for social justice through law.
S. Blair Kauffman
Dan, Old Friend and Mentor –
I can’t believe it has gone by so fast:. from Yale Law School ’51 and the
days on the Journal, to the young marrieds of the 50s and the bail reformers
of the 60s. You played such a crucial role in getting me launched in the
profession: the early Bobby Kennedy Department of Justice, the sixties Crime
Commissions, the excting beginnings of Vera, and, for more than twenty years,
trusted source of law clerks. Always an empathetic and wise counsellor ,
you have been a true and enduring friend throughout our lives. What a legacy
you are leaving behind. How we will miss you.. Safe journey.. Muich
love, Pat (Wald)
Dan, you were one of my father’s most valued and fun colleagues at the Yale Law School. I remember when we first met outside of Yale, at some forgettable event or other. Herb Sturz introduced us; I am sure that Fritz Schwarz was there too. You talked to me about my father, Burke Marshall, and you made me feel so much better — your remembering him so vividly and talking about him with such warmth made it clear that he still had a place in this world. I remember thinking how much I admired your straightforward way of speaking and your gentle manner; and the fierce, but thoughtful way you asked the best, and most unexpected questions. Dan, I have missed sitting next to you in Vera Board meetings — I don’t really have anyone else to whisper with now. It has been fun conspiring with you — and an honor to serve with you. And I miss you, Dan. Thank you for the respect you showed me — you have no idea how important that has been and how it has helped to change me and make me (feel, at least) so much more useful. Well, maybe now you do. I am sorry I didn’t get to tell you in person. I feel very lucky to have known you even this little bit.
Thank you for everything.
Love and respect always, Catie Marshall
I will remember Dan always as friend and mentor. He opened my eyes to many new
ways of looking at the law, and at life, and I will always be grateful to have
known him. May God bless Dan and his family.
Stephen L. Carter
I am praying for my dear colleague Dan and for all of you at this fraught time. Sending you so much love and warmth, as he so often did to all of us.
Jean Koh Peters
I am a former student of Professor Freed’s. I graduated in 2003. If it is
not too late, please let him know that Katherine Tang Newberger is still a
happy Federal Public Defender in Maryland. I’m in my fourth year as a
federal defender, and I feel that his sentencing course put me on the path
to getting and loving this job. He taught me to love sentencing, and I’m
in two big sentencing fights right now. I’m trying to get an 18 month
sentence in an illegal re-entry case, and a 3 year sentence for a young man
who is facing a career offender sentence of 12.5 to 15.5 years. He planted
the seed from which all my sentencing results have grown. I owe him so
much and will remember him fondly always.
Katherine Tang Newberger
Hi, Peter. I am writing this immediately upon receiving the sad and painful news from our Dean about the progress — or rather the distressing lack of progress — in the treatment of Daniel’s cardio-renal failure and the decision to cease aggressive interventions. I am numb. But through the thick sense of disbelief, I do recognize two sensibilities, which I know will sharpen in the days to come. One is a deep sense of sorrow for the impending loss of a friend, someone who I shared experiences and also values and hopes with. Daniel was particularly kind to and engaging of me from the moment I came to YLS; indeed, the excited and friendly spirit he displayed toward me and my ideas and interests–which to my good fortune had so many connections with his own–made me cognizant of the intellectual community that exists here and the immense value of being a part of it. I will miss him; I can feel the pain of that absence already. The second sense, though, which is just as deep, is a comforting assurance that Daniel will never disappear from my life. Even the mention of his name immediately fills my consciousness with a vivid picture of him, and just as significantly a vivid sense of contact with his passion and spirit, and a concrete apprehension of the many valuable things — from very particular ones: insights into the workings of sentencing and other procedures of criminal justice; to much more general ones: the meaning of a good life as an academic lawyer — that I understand with greater clarity by virtue of having known him and of having been his colleague. Those things will stay with me, I realize; he’ll continue to be woven into those strands of my life, and that will furnish me (and I know many others, including, of course, his family members and closest friends who enjoyed connections to him that were even more intimate and meaningful) with an enduring and continuing sense of happiness. I thank him and my good fortune for that.
Dear Mr. Freed,
My name is Sophia-we’ve never met but I feel as though I know you, your essence, through Peter. The letters of love on this tribute and an article by Ronald Weich called “My teacher, my colleague, my friend” confirm that you embody—and have imparted onto Peter— those very traits which make you beloved to so many people, and which make Peter one of the people I love and respect most deeply. Throughout Mr. Weich’s article, I sensed your spirit as I sensed Peter’s, hovering among the lines. You and Peter leave gentle yet indelible marks on people blessed enough to know you. This may be the greatest gift one person can give to another. Your legacy lives on, in people you’ve never met but whose lives you’ve touched. I send you and your family all of my love, Sophia Porrino.
Of all my friends at Vera Dan is the dearest to me. Awed by his brilliance, I felt so privileged and moved by his tender and caring friendship. Please tell him how much I love him. You and your family have all my sympathy.
Susan Powers Lodge
Dear Dan, You no doubt have already heard and will be hearing from your many, many other friends at the Vera Institute of Justice. But, on behalf of the entire board of trustees, I wanted to convey our profound thanks for your many years of service on the board and, far more importantly, for all of your deeply thoughtful, wise, and boundary-pushing comments during the board’s discussions over those many years. In your kind and gentle, but always potent way, you constantly pushed the Institute to stay true to its highest aspirations, to reach well beyond the commonplace or convenient solutions, and to keep the goal of acheiving justice at the center of everything we do and strive for. On a personal level, it has been a great privilege and honor for me to have served on Vera’s board with you for the past fifteen years. I can’t begin to catalogue all of what I’ve learned from listening to your sage advice over those years. You have enlivened all of our meetings with your wit and gentle humor; you’ve made us smarter than we could ever have been without you; and you’ve always kept our ideals and our mission clearly in view. We will miss you profoundly and will remember you always. From all your fellow Vera board members, you have our best wishes, our prayers, and our deepest appreciation for all that you’ve shared with us and achieved with us.
With great fondness,
I love you, Dan. For more years than I’ve been on the Board (25 or so), you have been the navigator of the noble ship Vera, the Jimminy Cricket of this waywardly-inclined Pinnochio, the silver-tongued conscience ever vigilant that the basic precepts of the founding fathers be the guides for every Vera undertaking. May we find the wisdom and strength to recognize and follow the principled paths which you have kept us traveling along all these many moons. – Joe McDonald
I love Dan, love what we shared over so many years acdemically, but far more importantly loved Dan the Mensch, Dan the lover of family, Dan who so genuinely shared the ups and downs of my life. Your Dad is a piece of my life, and though I followed the medical stuff over the years, somehow, I just believed that our relationship would continue, and that medical stuff was just another hurdle, but not something that could or would trump all the academic and fun things we shared.
I am in LA visiting grandchildren (until next week), and yesterday for some reason as I was wandering the streets my mind (this is really the case) turned to Dan,and I determined that upon my return I would visit. And never in this conversation with myself, did I think of my visit as a bedside chat about health. Instead, I thought of sentencing stuff I could throw out–some vindicating our earlier work, some raising new questions. I knew that your DAd’s unquenchable interest in this area would probably get him out of any bed, and have him arguing vociferously. This is how I see Dan the scholar; how I see Dan the Mensch is a personal set of recollections that I will always treasure. I feel so helpless out here, but my thoughts are with you, with your sister and Mom, and with “my friend Dan.”
Love, Milty (Heumann)
I am so so sorry to hear this. I’m the director of the Vera Institute and have known Dan for only a decade or so–far less than many others on our board and staff but it feels like a lot longer than that. He is a truly iconic figure in our world and also one of the lovliest, warmest and kindest men I’ve ever met. I know you must be getting deluged with these emails but I wanted to write a short note to him with a longer one to follow for later. Dan, though I’ve only known you for a fraction of the time of many others on the Vera staff and board I want both to thank you for not only being so kind and supportive to me, but to all of us at Vera for so many years. You cannot possibly know the impact you’ve had on the organization and our work but also on the lives of so many of us who have worked here over the years and decades. Your personal connection with the staff and your interest and guidance in their work has been so important and meaningful to us. Any words of encouragement or advice or gentle criticism from you were so welcome, so meaningful and taken so seriously by all of us on both a personal and professional level–so much so that it’s quite difficult to describe. Suffice it to say that just from your work at Vera you have touched the lives of so many staff who have known you and through them the lives of literally hundreds of thousands of people–millions really–who have benefitted from all of Vera’s programs. And every one of those programs is better than they otherwise would have been without you. I know I speak for all the Vera staff for all of the almost 5 decades we have been around when I say that you have meant more to us than you can ever know. And rest assured we will work endlessly and tirelessly to improve the systems of justice that you have spent your own life trying to make more just. Thank you Dan.
I received the email you sent to Marc Miller and others about your father. I am so saddened by the news, but am simultaneously comforted by your description of his spirits and by being to read about him on the website you established.
I am a student of his from Yale (1996). Your Dad was a huge influence on my life, and will remain so. In addition to studying and writing with him at Yale, he helped me figure out how to make something of my experience there, divert it in a way that fed my passions, and put me on a trajectory that has defined the course of my post-YLS career and life. After Yale, I went to clerk for Hon Jack Weinstein, one of the great judges – and scholars and thinkers – on modern sentencing. I then spent 10 years at the Vera Institute, working on state sentencing reform for much of that time. It was wonderful to see him at our quarterly board meetings – to see the man who had pointed me to my work and to Vera, to reminisce and to be the recipient of his warm smile and to hear his tales of becoming a town justice. Something about learning from him, and then seeing him regularly over the next decade as the subject of my study evolved into work and reform was immensely gratifying. I owe him a lot, and in his humility, he probably doesn’t know that.
I am in New York – at the Rockefeller Foundation – doing good work, but in an area different from the one we inhabited. I’ve missed seeing him, and thought of him quite recently when I sent a holiday card to him @ 53 Freed Road. Please let him know. And please let him know that three words he once said to me haunt me to this day. He said, “Nick, you will be a star.” Okay, that is six words. Proof that I’ve got a long way to go. I do indeed have a long way to go, and I doubt I will ever fulfill that promise, but I tell you, it sure felt nice to be one in the eyes of my mentor. If you could let him know, I would really appreciate it.
I guess it’s only at times like these that we let ourselves say things from our heart. But I really wanted to tell you a few things about how much you’ve meant to me, and about the impact you’ve had on my life. The truth is that, when I entered law school, I was pretty lost, but somehow I managed to find my way into your sentencing class. Jennifer Kaplan, Leonard Bailey, others — it was a remarkable class. We all saw, in your deep commitment to justice, in your abiding loyalty to your students, a model for what being a great teacher and a human being is all about. When I finally graduated from law school and wondered what to do with myself, you were there for me too. I remember calling you on the phone one evening from Alabama, asking whether I should take a job that didn’t seem quite right. And you told me to have faith in myself. And because you did, I did too. And I found the strength to follow my own way. When I started to think about an academic career of my own, you were there too, offering advice and a helping hand, and bringing me on board the good ship FSR. I know I haven’t been a particularly good correspondent these past several years, and it pains me deeply not to be able to say these things to you in person. But you have always been close to my heart. I know you’ve touched many people. I just wanted to tell you that you’ve touched one more, to the very core. You’ve been – and always will be – a true inspiration to me.
With all my love,
Dan: Always a night owl (that’s when we emailed), I can’t sleep without telling you again and again how much you have meant to me, to our students, to the countless lawyers, judges, probation officers, academics, government officials that you have mentored, and launched. Your unrelenting clear vision and brilliance has been critical, and really, truly is irreplaceable. Quite apart from the work, though, we had so, so much fun teaching, talking, emailing endlessly, visiting, eating, writing. I am a Freedian forever.
I am sorry that I haven’t written this e-mail many years ago. Often did I think about it, but never did I actually set pen to paper (or keyboard to screen). The message should be entitled THANK YOU! Thank you for helping me become who I am; thank you for making it possible for me to have followed my passion and my dreams. I vividly recall the hours in your Sentencing Seminar, and I have flashbacks to the meetings with judges and prosecutors. I have always admired your amazing ability to make everyone appear smart, and turn pedestrian comments (of mine) into great insights. I have admired your incredible ability to shape small groups and to change attitudes and perceptions without the person even noticing. A few months ago one of my colleagues told me that he ran into Inge Johnson, now a federal judge in Alabama, who still vividly remembers how I visited Alabama to write a report on her. And I surely remember that trip – and how you got it all funded. In fact, your ability to fund that amazing experience has made me a firm believer in my mantra as Hofstra’s dean, “at least one unique experience for every student,” and my hope in finding money for such unique experiences. And, then you had the confidence in me to join you on FSR, and you introduced me to Marc who has also been a wonderful mentor to me. What an honor and privilege to work with you after graduation – and I realize that just now do I begin to feel comfortable calling you Dan rather than Professor Freed. It is that belief that you had in me that I now try to extend to my students and graduates. It is your belief in reform and change that has made me committed to the “impact” mission Hofstra Law has developed. You have enabled me to find a niche in the academy that allows me to work in my areas of greatest love – crime and sentencing. You have modeled for me how to be a committed teacher, a law reformer, and a scholar. You have supported me throughout my career. And as I have come to realize in writing this message, you have also deeply shaped my thinking as a dean. I cannot write this without tears streaming down my face, but I wanted you (rather than just your family) to know all of this. There are only a few people in my life to whom I owe the gratitude I owe you. THANK YOU for allowing me to be a part of your student circle. I love and admire you, Dan. Fondly yours, Nora
Nora V. Demleitner
Dear Judy and Dan:
Ben keeps me up on the news of the larger world, and I just want to say I am thinking of you, and remembering how our children grew up near each other and how Peter and Ben have kept up their friendship. I know how proud you both are of Peter and Emily. You have built a wonderful family together. I have good memories of time shared in New Haven. I also think of Dan’s impact on American law, and how I sometimes felt he was doing a good job for the rest of us.
There is nothing I can do now and there is no advice to give. I am still trying to learn acceptance of this part of the journey, and it is not easy. So many people have been affected by you. Spending life well is a gift to those around you.
You have my love and concern, and both sons join me in these thoughts.
As a teacher, you are insightful, inspirational, but most of all, kind. There are lots of smart people out there, but not so many who are also profoundly kind. This is you. Two months after Diane died suddenly in 1998, you came to see me in Baltimore, and you comforted me in my grief. We talked for many hours and it was very helpful. I was deeply honored
that you, whom I regarded so highly, would come to my city and invest your best effort in assisting me. I was reminded then that you, more than anything else in this life, care for people and their well-being. You are the most loyal of friends. Your important work at Yale, at Vera, and with sentencing and bail issues speaks for itself. Most important to me is that I have never been merely your “student”, but your friend. And to be friends with Dan Freed is one of the treasures of my life. Godspeed.
I have learned through the sentencing world grapevine that your health has taken a turn for the worse. I am terribly sad to hear this, and at the same time more profoundly aware than ever of what you have made possible for me. You pointed the way for me to an incredibly important body of knowledge. Beyond that, I am grateful for the wisdoms that you modeled for me: the wisdom to listen, the wisdom to give real weight to lived experience, the wisdom to read skeptically, the wisdom connect legal concepts to human experience. Every time I put pen to paper (well, make that fingers to keyboard), every time I teach a class, every time I talk with a legal practitioner or a person caught up in a legal mess, your models of wisdom go before me. Thank you.
Ron Weich and Julie Stewart send him our boundless love, respect and gratitude. We both feel so privileged to have known him, worked with him and learned from him. We’re so glad we had the chance to share our feelings about him in the video that was shown at the sentencing conference in San Francisco in 2008. He will always remain an inspiration to us as we carry on his work for a more just and effective sentencing system. — Ron and Julie
Dan — Milty called to tell me you are in my jurisdiction (that’s the good news) but that you’re in the hospital (that’s the bad news). For starters, if you’re up for visitors, let me know and I will drop everything and come see you. Hospital visits are a specialty, although usually to take inculpatory statements from injured defendants before their right to counsel attaches. For you, I’ll make an exception and visit for humanitarian reasons.
I miss you so much! Olivia Sohmer still works here, and we speak of you often; and I see Peter Pope now and then, and your name always comes up. You have been an enormous influence on all three of us, although for the life of me I still can’t detect the influence on Olivia…
We are now into day fourteen of the Cy Vance administration. I have to say, my old boss went out with a bang; this last year he seemed to be everywhere at once. The icing on the cake came when Mayor Blumberg accused him of illegally squirelling money into secret bank accounts. There is nothing that Mr. Morgenthau enjoys so much as a bare-knuckles political fight, and by all accounts he won by a knockout in the early rounds. The highlight was when Mr. Morgenthau pointed out to The Times that contrary to keeping anything that wasn’t ours, our Office had actually turned over to the City, just in the past year, $180 million dollars, “even more than the Mayor spent to get re-elected.”
Believe it or not, when they gave Mr. Morgenthau a huge going-away party at the Javits Center, he said that one thing he’d enjoyed in his career was doing things that people told him not to, and he gave as an example hiring me 30 years ago, notwithstanding the recommendation of his hiring committee that I be rejected. You may recall that you and Joe Goldstein played a big role in getting him to reconsider that decision.
The nice thing about being 54 years old is, I now know how I will be remembered by history: I am the guy who knew Sonia Sotomayor. It’s not what I would have picked, but it’s nice just the same, and I was included in a profile of the Justice in last week’s New Yorker. I always think of you as the guy who went to Yale with George H.W. Bush.
Anwyay…if you like this email, I can send many more, much longer…I can even come to visit…whatever you like. You know I will keep you in my prayers and keep love headed your way. One could make an argument that everything I’ve attained professionally I owe to you — not just my gig here at the DA’s Office, but my involvement in the Bar Association where, I’m told, I will next month be featured member of the month or something…anyway, whatever I don’t owe to Sonia or the Lord I owe to you.
All my love,
I cannot begin to tell you how much I value my experience of learning from you. My “time” in the sentencing seminar and as your research assistant simply IS my memory of law school. That, along with a couple of choice quotables from Geoff Hazard (“what are you going to do with a 24-hour extension? Just take the ^%$&ing exam!”) and Charlie Black (“as we say in Texas with our irrepressible enthusiasm, ‘disirregardless’…”). I know that you, being you, will read this and protest that you learned from me — from all of us. That’s true, and that’s what has always made it so great to study with you. You have never been one to speak ex cathedra, but always take an egalitarian and collaborative approach to every issue you explore. What fun! Participating in that seminar gave me a good look at judges as people, “with their robes off,” as it were. Not only has it given me lasting friendships (I saw Jeff Atlas in October, by the way, and he asked after you then.) To my mind, a healthy realism (not, of course, disrespect!) is a good thing — too much awe can be crippling. Though I’ll admit, I was right to worry about how much fun I had at my first (and so far only) argument in the NY State Court of Appeals. I did, indeed, lose that one. People v. Bailey, 13 NY3d 67 (2009). At least I drew a respectable dissent from two of the seven.
Never doubt for an instant that you are one of my top five role models for intellectual exploration and teaching.
I love you tons.
It is now more than a quarter of a century since you took me, then a mere first year, under your wing. You may not know how much your mentorship meant to me then, and how much it has influenced me over the years. I never strayed very far or very long from the courthouse that you sent me to study Judge Rothwax. You gave me my first look into the system in which I have labored ever since. At the Vance inauguration last week (the first new DA in 35 years, imagine that), I was with a former assistant DA who used to appear in front of Rothwax while I was profiling him. She asked, all these years later, just how it was that I got to sit next to Harold. And I got to tell her (as I have so many others over my career) that you had sent me there, and why, and how much you and that class had influenced my life.
You taught me so very much. But you especially taught me the value of thoughtfulness: how good judges, good lawyers, good public servants analyze a problem with respect, and struggle quietly and sincerely to arrive at a prudent, sensible, and, above all, just answer. You taught me to see the strength in the arguments of others, not just the weaknesses. You taught me that wisdom often resides in those with whom you strongly disagree, and that you must allow yourself to see it, to feel it, if you truly wish to solve a problem. You showed me how a process of respectful negotiation – conversation really – can bridge enormous gaps. For you to allow me, so early, to look at problems through your eyes changed the way I looked at the world, and the way I have tried to solve problems ever since.
Thank you for being my teacher.
My wife Elaine sends her love as well.
Dearest Dan and all the Freed Boston Family
I am waiting at home in London for Orna to arrive from New York and I have just heard from Peter of your up to date medical situation.
I am sure you have heard from Peter,Judy and Talya that we have constantly been enquiring about you and the horrid procedures that you have been undergoing for so long but with such unbelievable fortitude and courage. Judy’s support and loving attention to everything and especially the recent constant dialysis is truly staggering.I am so sorry that I was not able to see you when I was in New York but I was very pleased that Orna and Talya with sweet lovely Teo who is of course the delight of all our lives could see you. I also want to give you also a belated mazaltov on the birth of Chloe who I understand who is such a cute addition to the Freed family.We have had an all too short but profound friendship since we met in New York on Judy’s birthday some nearly three yearsago and then a delightful but exciting visit to Vermont to plan the wedding . I remember with great fondness some of the particular highlights between us. I remember sitting in your kitchen and your telling me something of your early professional career and then of your fascinating work as a Professor of Law at Yale. I of course learned later of the great eminence that you had achieved in your chosen field.I also remember with fondness on the same trip you telling us about you first trip to Israel as a student and showing us the photographs with you I think meeting Ben Gurion.However the wonderful memory that really stands out is when we both went swimming in your lake I think the day before the wedding and it was such an idyllic day. You told me modestly something of your early athletic prowess and we really both had such a fun time. Then there was the fairy tale wedding ceremony and party and you standing so distinguished and tall on the chuppa. I shall not also forget you in the famous baseball cap at the party.I am so sorry have to communicate with you by email but I am sure that Peter, Talya and Judy will convey to you the affection and love we feel for you and that we are constantly thinking of you.Peter please give your dearest Dad a big hug.from us.
Please tell Dan Jim and I truly love being a part of your family and we think of Emily like a sister..as all her friends do…and you know how much Lily loves Jaspar. We will always be there for both of you to share the stories about Dan who was only in our lives for a short time but left with us such a feeling of joy and laughter. Emily’s wedding day was such true happiness that I know he will set up a party in heaven for all of us just like that. No rain, perfect temperture, and beautiful music. And all the girls will turn their turtlenecks over their heads and be princesses…Dan’s princesses because it is so rare in life to meet a man like him who made all of us feel so special…like a princess. With purple parasols. Xx oo. Jim and Joan
Joan E. Dunne
He was always exceptionally kind to me in our younger years and I remember him very fondly. I hope one day to be as smart and humane as he.
Greg (Kraus) Friend of Peter
It’s been 30 years since I first saw your smile and felt the burn of your gaze as you questioned my ideas. It was about sentencing and justice, but it could have been about anything. That smile and those questions are burned into my mind, and keep me smiling and thinking every day, just as they are alive and probing for hundreds of your students, friends, and colleagues. We’re with you; as you are with us.
Love, Chris (Stone)
I just got the news that your time is terribly short. In the hope that a few words will reach you in time for you to hear them, let me say only that you are one of the most intellectually and personally generous human beings it has ever been my great good fortune to meet. Your interest in an obscure midcareer prosecutor helped set me on a new and rewarding path. I’ll be forever grateful. Most importantly, I want to say that there are innumerable “professors” in American graduate education, but there are only a bare handful of teachers. You are one.
God bless you and Godspeed.
One day in 1995, I received a call in my Chicago law office that would change my life — both professionally and personally. When you and Marc Miller called and offered me the chance to guest edit an issue of the Federal Sentencing Reporter, I was simultaneously amazed, thrilled and terrified. From that very first call, both of you have always been wonderful to me.
As a more-than-green almost academic, I had the good fortune to run into you and Marc at an AALS conference in 2000. It was the first time we had ever met in person. Within hours, you arranged for me to be a regular FSR editor. I started to question you sanity but was (for once) smart enough to accept. My next task was to co-edit a double issue of FSR with you on pardons and clemency. I learned so much from you while working on that issue. You taught me about writing, about editing, about being a lawyer, about the criminal justice system, and about the law. This started a steady stream of collaborations, consultations, and conferences between us. Each one was punctuated with laughter and a love of life. You graciously helped me try to copy your innovative sentencing workshop here in Pennsylvania. Although my effort has been well received by Pennsylvania judges, it will always remain a pale imitation of the Gold Standard Freed version. You have continued to teach me in innumerable ways. Your kind humor and gentle persuasion are as wildly effective as they are pleasurable to observe. I treasure our time together — be it in person, by email, or on the phone. You will always be an important part of my life.
January 14, 2010
You have been a wonderful friend to me, to Vera, and to justice. I admire you and love you.
January 14, 2010
Today, as on every other day of his remarkable life, Dan Freed is a quiet hero of dignity, courage and clear-headedness. There are many brilliant people at the Yale Law School. Dan is certainly among them. But he possesses something so much more valuable than brilliance. He possesses humanity–the all-too-rare gift of never underestimating others or overestimating onself. And because of this, Dan is beloved by all his colleagues: not merely respected and admired (which he is), but beloved. The example of his decency and kindness and deep wisdom about both the power and the limits of the law belongs to the permanent treasury of the Yale Law School. My love to you Dan, and to your family, which is so unbelievably lucky to have you at its center.
As ever and forever,
Hi Judy and Dan,
You are in our thoughts and hearts. With love, Kim Hartman Colligan
Very dear Judith and Dan,
Our hearts and thoughts are with you. Knowing that you are surrounded by loving children helps. We love you too and thank you for staying in touch.
Marion & Mark (Schlefer)
Dearest Judy and Dan , I’m sending tons of Love .. Peace ..Strength and Comfort to you both …… you are in my thoughts and heart constantly . I would love to offer my support in person if you would like . Please cal me if you would like me to come down ,,, I would come right away if you desire .. with sincere love , from , Petey (Mitchell)
Dear Dan —
I was so sorry to hear the news of your condition. While it must be a horrible time for you and your family as these toxins course through your body, it also allows some time for people to tell you how much they care about you and the lasting impression you have left on them. I am one of those people whom you profoundly touched, although I am certain you never knew it.
I used to see you at your house as a teenager, and through the years I would bump into you at a variety of events in and around New Haven. You always offered a huge smile and a kind greeting and really made whomever you were talking to believe that they were the only person in the world at that moment. You were quick with something funny to say and you always took a moment to educate me on something if there was something to be learned. The way you always treated me left a lasting impression on me — you taught me how to treat other people (particularly how to build a relationship with the friends of my children when they are older). I have always thought of you as the wise, learned owl who smiled with his eyes, and you will forever be in my memory that way.
There is no way to say goodbye. Know that you are loved and respected by so many; and that you raised wonderful children that you can be so very proud of. Peter is the kind of man (husband, father, son, friend, brother) that he is because of YOU.
With a big hug and a kiss and many thanks for all that you brought to my life, even if you didn’t know it.
Dear Dan –
We are thinking of youi tonite and of all the good and special times we had together.
With great affection, Pat and Bob (Wald)
Dan, I told Peter that I would not write just now as I was speechless but I now realize that I must tell you again how much you mean to me and how grateful I am to have you in my life, in Teo’s life and I want you to know that you will be with us forever. We will all remember and Teo will know your charming mischievous smile and wise controlled consideration of all matters. From the first moment, you welcomed me into your family with generous loving open arms and I know now that those arms will remain there for me forever. Dan, thank you, thank you for your love and spirit and calm controlled brilliance, thank you for your acceptance and welcome and thank you for your son and family, thank you, thank you, thank you. I pray that you continue to feel the warmth and love that surrounds you. Your loving grateful daughter in law Talya
I’ve loved you from the moment we met 50 years ago, and it’s only gotten better over time.
I was able to speak to Dan, through Judy, tonight, and I told him I loved him. A most momentous occasion of my life is when I heard Dan answer back, “Tell Kate Stith that I love her, too.”I am sure we feel all that and he feels that about all of us. What a horrible loss awaits us. I am so sad, and yet so thankful that without deserving it in the least I was able to work with and learn from, and especially talk confidentially with, Dan Freed. Dan, your many insights go well beyond sentencing and the criminal justice system, as important as those are. My 18 year-old-son just came in (and has already left), and I treasure your insights and help on how to “relate” to him. You are forever part of me and so many others.
Love, Kate (Stith)
Peter – I’m so sad to here this news. Please give your pops a big squeeze for me and convey large amount of love and appreciation. It’s difficult for me to imagine him in a hospital bed. Whenever I think of him, I picture him with mischievous smile (which he passed onto his his son), walking around his property in Vermont, wearing a big red flannel shirt.
Please tell your Dad that I will miss him and that I feel very, very lucky to know him. I have so many small but warm memories of times with him. In Maine and on Lawrence Street and in Vermont and in the New Haven apartment. I think of sitting and talking about books and movies and eating bagels and fruit salad. When I think of your Dad I think of warmth and kindness. And smiling. I send a hug to you too.
Dearest Peter –
I just got your email in Calcutta. I’m sorry that I didn’t know your Dad well enough to send him direct wishes or memories, but I love you, and my thoughts and love are with you. Sending love to you and your beautiful family, and prayers and love to your father. I will never forget his joy and pride and overflowing sense of good humor at your wedding.
So much love,
I’m really so very sorry. I can’t think of anything off the top of my head and need to think for a moment. I can tell you that alexander is going to be very sad as he has such nice memories of our Thanksgiving with your parents last year–playing with the dogs and playing with the flashlights in your parents’ bedroom. They were both so warm and gracious and even though your dad wasn’t well, he really engaged and played (and tolerated) the shenanigans of two little kids. And I guess that is it really. Your dad is calm in the midst of chaos, a grounding force for your family. I will remember him with his calm countenance and a smile on his face, like he knew he was the luckiest man in the world to be married to your mom and have his family. We will miss him. Alexander told me that he knew your dad was going to die and that it was very sad. What has been upsetting him most, however, is that he doesn’t want you to be sad. That, he said, is terrible. We love you, Peter, and hope that your dad and your family are at peace, as much as you can be right now. I really feel for Emily and the extreme of emotions she must be experiencing right now with the birth of her daughter and the loss of her father within the same week. I do have poem by Mary Oliver I’ll send shortly.
In Blackwater Woods
by Mary Oliver
Look, the trees
their own bodies
are giving off the rich
fragrance of cinnamon
the long tapers
are bursting and floating away over
the blue shoulders
of the ponds,
and every pond,
no matter what its
name is, is
I have ever learned
in my lifetime
leads back to this: the fires
and the black river of loss
whose other side
none of us will ever know.
To live in this world
you must be able
to do three things:
to love what is mortal;
to hold it
against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it;
and, when the time comes to let it go,
to let it go.
Dan has certainly left his impression in this world–his work, his wit, wisdom and smile. His love for Judy, his children and grandchildren will carry on.
When Death Comes
by Mary Oliver
When death comes
like the hungry bear in autumn;
when death comes and takes all the bright coins from his purse
to buy me, and snaps the purse shut;
when death comes
like the measles-pox;
when death comes
like an iceberg between the shoulder blades,
I want to step through the door full of curiosity, wondering:
what is it going to be like, that cottage of darkness?
And therefore I look upon everything
as a brotherhood and a sisterhood,
and I look upon time as no more than an idea,
and I consider eternity as another possibility,
and I think of each life as a flower, as common
as a field daisy, and as singular,
and each name a comfortable music in the mouth
tending as all music does, toward silence,
and each body a lion of courage, and something
precious to the earth.
When it’s over, I want to say: all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.
When it is over, I don’t want to wonder
if I have made of my life something particular, and real.
I don’t want to find myself sighing and frightened,
or full of argument.
I don’t want to end up simply having visited this world.
We adore you and wish we were right there beside your bed to say so in person and hold your hand. We think so often of our visit to you this summer, in Vermont; of the long brunch in our apartment when you recounted your first date with Judy; and of the wit and tenderness you showed when talking about Teo and Penelope, both just days old, in Peter and Talya’s apartment one year ago.
In that visit, you said something typically wise: that recording every single event in a child’s life might obscure rather than preserve the story of the child’s development – that you should instead record the points of inflection, the moments of change, and by stitching them together, perhaps see the contours of a life emerge.
You are now at a very different point of inflection, from which the contours of an uncommonly well-lived life are unmistakably clear. We are honored to have called you our friend, Dan, and we will miss you terribly.
With love, and more love, and more love still,
Ariel (Kaminer) and David (Schab) and Penelope
Mr. Freed (I could never call you by your first name),
I have very fond memories of our conversations at your house when I would come over to hang out with Peter. You were one of the few parents of my friends who engaged me intellectually and I remember being incredibly flattered when Peter told me once that you thought I was smart. I always felt like a little bit of a dork in high school, but less so at your house.You know this, but you raised a wonderful son. Not only is he smart, funny and charismatic (James Carville once told my Dad that you can never go too far – there are no limits – when you compliment a parent’s child), but he is compassionate and generous. I know that your values will be passed on to Teo as well.I am sending you all my love,
I have spent so many wonderful days and nights at both of your homes. You have always been a wonderful presence in those memories. You welcomed me in from a very early age, through my extremely awkward youth and into adulthood. You kept your spirit and your humor when Peter and I tried your patience. “Are you guys trying to set a record?” about our leaving all the lights on in the house. You got across your message, and managed to do it in the context of our silly games.
I was always wowed by your intelligence and your wisdom. You seemed to know so much about so much. As we got older and our interests started to become shared, conversations around the kitchen table (in New Haven, but especially in Vermont) took on an excitement and energy. It has never been boring in the Freed home.
I am so glad that I see a bit of you in Teo and we can regale him with stories of our shared past. You have been a strong, strong fighter through such a difficult ordeal. You make us all very proud.
May peace and light come to you,
I am in the air on my way to London and want to take the opportunity that they now allow the use of cell phones during flights to tell you that I am constantly thinking about you all. I find myself recalling all the times we have met in the last few years so many of which have been happy, joyous and celebratory occasions. I remember Talya and Peter’s wedding of course and Teo’s birth but also our first meeting in Vermont almost 3 years ago, going on the marathon of looking for the wedding accommodations and then ending the day with a glass of good red wine chosen by Dan, listening to music – a perfect tranquil ending to an exhausting day.
I am so grateful that I was able to see Dan in hospital last Friday. I understand that Teo and Chloe will be visiting tomorrow and they are both so sweet, adorable and sure to put a smile on Dan’s face.
In the meantime I hope that you can keep up your courage and be strong. With much affection and love to you all, and Talya, do give Dan a kiss for me,
You are a great friend and will be an asset to my life always. Pete talks about your big smile. That’s what happens to me when I hear your name. You talk with me and I never want to leave your side.
All that is to come, for which all people someday become seemingly absent, I am confident is only a space around which you and I will one day together wrap our entire beings. For real.
Love to you and your family.
What a great man you are.
I am so, so sorry to hear this. I love your dad. He was one of my favorite dads growing up – always funny and interesting all mixed into one. I had so much fun staying with your family in Vermont (and New Haven, for that matter). I’ll never forget all the effort he put into coming to my wedding. It meant so much that they were both able to come. We were so lucky to have parents growing up that reached out to our friends. The result is now a shared sense of deep sadness. Please tell him that my thoughts and prayers are with him and the rest of the Freeds right now.
Love, charlotte (Pooley)
Oh Peter, that is very sad news.
I only met your father a few times, so there’s not much for me to say beyond that I’d like to thank him for giving the world such a kind and profound man as you; and I’d like to say goodbye to him, and to offer the words of the Psalmist as a token, as it were, for his passage:
131 A Song of Ascents; of David
Lord, my heart is not haughty, nor
mine eyes lofty;
Neither do I exercise myself in
things too great, or in things too
wonderful for me.
Surely I have stilled and quieted
Like a weaned child with his mother,
My soul is with me like a weaned
O Israel, hope in the Lord
From this time forth and for ever.
– Greg Ford
We’ve met a bunch over the years but my persistent imaginings of you are through the lens of your son, who in my book carries your last name as both his first and last. The calls always begin, “FREED,” shouted more than spoken over the phone. So, in this respect, he has doubled-down on the commitment to your legacy in my mind. Freed-Freed if you will. Or just plain Freed.
Over the years, I have somehow always imagined you as always being in Vermont though Freed would persist in telling me that you were often teaching and in New Haven. And as far as I was concerned, you lived in the oldest and most charming house in Vermont. Based on his descriptions which always included the cows, I somehow assumed that they were basically part of the family and would not have been stunned to find one lounging in the kitchen quite comfortably passing the time with a cup of tea and ginger snaps. That house is inextricably bound to your person and your affection for that place made an indelible impression upon Freed. So it was a delight to finally make it up there for the wedding and to, in fact, realize that it was a real place with real cows. And the old barn is awesome. Simply put, awesome. That was my favorite spot and though empty of cows, it was pretty easy to imagine how excellent it must have been when packed.
And Freed loved Freed. I remember when he called to say he was going to take you to that yankees game a year or two ago. It was such a poignant little moment because he was so full of anxiety and expectation (were the seats good enough? would you really love it?). The game was less about your day at the ballpark than about how much Freed wanted you to love it and be satisfied. And don’t get me wrong. It sounded like a real winner of an idea. Probably a momentous turning-point game in some spectacular series of which I had no idea. Perhaps, now I am thinking maybe it was the Red Sox. No? Yes? Blasphemy? And I can’t even remember the reason why this would be such a big deal for you, though I must assume that you always followed the yankees and new all their stats. And so I have fabricated some memory of you crouched in the attic of some place you never lived listening to some incredibly cool old tube radio crackling with snippets of commentary and the whack of a ball while everyone else was out or thought you were asleep. Anyway, the point is I really have no great actual memory of you and baseball, just of how much Freed was so full of great expectation for you to love it and be finally fulfilled with this game. It was a small moment that somehow came to symbolize and concentrate all the meaning of the bond between you. Your kid is so mad about you that he wanted everything to be right about that trip. And in this you can feel complete and in fact fulfilled. Totally fulfilled up to the brim. You were a father who raised an extraordinary kid. One that is my best friend and one that loves you very deeply. And so that baseball game was really a testament to something very pure and wonderful and rarely had. A feat to behold and cherish, I love Freed. And by God, Freed really truly and deeply loves you. So, Mazeltov! Mazeltov.
Please tell Dan I love him. And from Chris.
We all do.
I will continue my decades of conversations with Dan about life and law — one of the great friendships and working relationships in my life — even if I will have to stop and remember what Dan would have asked, and would have said.
Love to you all.
Dear mr freed (sorry if that sounds formal, but you ARE the parent of a close friend, and, you know… ). As I write this I have an image of you standing above me on the grassy slope at your sons wedding, as the sun was beginning to set in a very golden way. Although personally we have had few exchanges, I spent some formative years with peter in residency, and really wanted to convey, simply, the following: Through peter I’ve seen your intelligence, your humor, your integrity, and your depth, and I thank you for that. In addition, as I’ve seen first hand, as a father you’ve made a son very proud. So, (and here I will get more a tad more familiar), I say to you with the warmest, heartfelt, conviction, bravo old chap!!
– Anna Chapman
Hi Peter – I am so sorry to hear about Dan. He was always so welcoming and easy to be around. When I picture him he always has a knowing smile on his face. I’m so glad Talya and Teo were part of his life. Please give Emily and your mom my love too.
– Kathryn Greenberg
When I think of Dan Freed, the first image that comes to my mind is the way he embraced you on the couch when we first arrived up in Vermont in the summer of 2001. He held you like you were his newborn son and he had that joy that people have when holding their infants. I was impressed by the child-like joy and the no-holds-barred affection that he conveyed. That was the summer that he finally discovered Donna Summer and would just beam when he listened to her on the car stereo. He is a wonderful man, and a great father, and to me he’s seemed most happy during these last ten years, being in Vermont, discovering Donna Summer and the Red Sox, and taking great joy in his wife and children and grandchildren.