Lubbock lawyer remembers his friend Justice Antonin Scalia

Lubbock lawyer remembers his friend Justice Antonin Scalia

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With Justice Antonin Scalia's death, the nation lost a legal icon and a Lubbock lawyer lost a dear friend.

There is one word that Lubbock lawyer Roger Key uses to describe the late Justice Scalia: "genuine, a very genuine person."

Key said his friendship with Scalia was very much happenstance stemming from an event originated by mega-lawyer and Texas Tech alumus Mark Lanier that featured another Supreme Court icon. "Sandra Day O'Connor was the first guest on the lectureship series in fact a year or two after it was created he invited Justice Scalia to come to Lubbock to be the second lecturer in the lectureship series." 

There was a two day gap between Scalia's speaking engagements and it was up to Key and former law school dean Walt Huffman to keep him busy.

"When I found out that Justice Scalia was coming to town and was going to be here on Friday to give a lecture and back at the law school on Monday, I called Walt and said Walt you know you're going to have to entertain Justice Scalia for the weekend and he said I know do you have any ideas," Key said. He then told Walt Huffman that his understanding was that Justice Scalia loved to hunt so he offered to set up a quail hunt. 

Key called a friend whose family owned a ranch and arranged a quail hunt, but Justice Scalia decided that he wanted to go hog and deer hunting in Central Texas instead with Lanier. "Mark Lanier called me one afternoon - Mark was the sponsor of the event - so he said 'why don't you get on the plane and go hunt deer and hogs with us?' and so I obviously accepted that invitation," Key said. 

Key and Justice Scalia flew to the hunt after the Friday lecture. Key said he ended up spending the weekend with a couple law school friends and Justice Scalia and over the course of that weekend got to be good friends with him.

The two began corresponding with each other. "I sent him a letter after the 2008 hunt and just told him what a privilege it had been to get to know him and I got the nicest letter if you can imagine back from him. Much to my surprise he asked me to come to Washington and listen to oral arguments in the U.S Supreme Court. I could sit in his private box and have lunch with him in his chambers afterwards, so I thought that was an incredibly nice, generous invitation and one that I didn't want to miss so my wife and I traveled to Washington in April of 2009."

In 2010, Justice Scalia and Justice Stephen Breyer were invited back Tech for another lecture and hunt.

The two corresponded back and forth Key said they kept trying to put together another hunt that regretfully never happened.

"To this day I still ask myself the question, how does a lawyer from a small firm in Lubbock, Texas become friends with a U.S Supreme Court Justice?" 

Key said that you didn't have to be around Justice Scalia very long before you realized that he was a devoted Catholic, family man, legal genius and that he had a "phenomenal sense of humor could make you, I mean he could make you laugh about just about anything. He was just a incredibly warm, gracious individual."

"It was a good friendship, very very fortunate to get to know him."

Photojournalist Jordan Belt

Samantha Waddell 

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