Hon. George Anagnost

On this Monday morning, I’m pleased to send thanks and congratulations to Peoria Presiding Court Judge George Anagnost. That man knows his way around the Constitution—and a CLE.

Last Thursday’s “We the People” symposium was mentioned here before (here and here), and I emphasized it because it had all the inklings of a great event. It did not disappoint.

The panelists were each terrific, and they kept a packed room engaged on elements of constitutional law, history, policy and politics.

Today, though, I reserve special plaudits for Judge Anagnost. More than a moderator, he shared a voluminous knowledge of the subject before and between the visiting speakers. He is an educator’s educator.

One example was the big Bowl of Knowledge that brought surprise and more than one case of nerves to the audience. The bowl contained the names of audience members, and Judge A. would occasionally draw a name and ask that person to stand. He would then ask them a constitutionally related question:

  • Three Supreme Court Justices joined the Court immediately after serving as a state governor. Who were they?
  • What are the names of the Justices on the Arizona Supreme Court?

And so on. I don’t think I heard one correct response during the day (the queries were pretty obscure at times), but following each wrong answer, the Judge praised the speaker’s tenacity and awarded a Supreme Court tote bag.

Hmmm. Things really are different on the West side.

Now, before you write, I mean that in a good way. Here’s one more example: The Judge wore a boutonnière—and had at the ready a similar corsage for every panelist. Which they wore.

Now, I cannot be sure that every speaker was enchanted with the idea of wearing a corsage. But the Judge’s sense of ceremony and courtesy were infectious, and everyone came out smelling like a rose (or a carnation, as the case may be).

The Judge also compared the Constitution to another love of his: chess. He recounted a famous quotation: “Chess is a sea in which a gnat may drink and an elephant may bathe.” The Constitution, too, he pointed out, may provide a placid surface to the world, but excursions into it and its scholarship yield immense and complex riches.

Adding levity, he reminded attendees as they exited for a break—a la jury admonitions—“Do not form an opinion about the quality of this seminar until it has been completed.”

The Big (Blue) Bowl of Knowledge: Partially obscured but forever a beacon

So the next time you sit in a CLE and find your mind wandering, ask yourself this: How much better would it be if corsages and a Big Bowl of Knowledge were shared around? What seminar would not improved by a tote bag, or surprise quizzes offered with a smile?

As the Judge pointed out, symposium comes from the Greek for drinking party. At the Peoria CLE, there was no hootch. But there were high spirits. Well done.

More photos from the event are at the Arizona Attorney Magazine Facebook page.