Transcript of clip from Justice Lacy interview

Cassandra Newby-Alexander: Did you notice any difference in the tone of the debates on different cases from the time you first came on until the time you retired?

Justice Lacy: Well, yes, of course, now remember when I retired there were three women on the court, the age of the members of the court had changed dramatically. I was not the oldest but close to the oldest when I left, and one of the youngest when I came. The tone does change. Now I will say, generally, the tone in debates on the court is very civil. It’s a real advantage I think that Virginia has generally in the practice of law we try and be as civil, civil practitioners. That doesn’t mean that hard positions aren’t exchanged, and civil doesn’t mean giving in, or not being an advocate for your position. So I think, you know, yes, there is a change, and I think that one of the changes, the differences; and this is not true for every single person, but, generally I ascribe to the theory that women tend to want to be more consensus builders; tend to want to kind of do something that will satisfy everybody a little bit. And that sense of… it really is, how can be bring this position and this position closer together so that both sides can live with it. That kind of approach over the years, although it may have changed now, was often viewed by perhaps society in general but perhaps just men as a weak position. In other words, you come in, you state your position, that’s your position, and to waffle on that, or to listen to somebody else I shouldn’t just say listen to somebody else, but to try and move somebody else is seen as waffling or seen as weakness, as seen as, you know, not a good thing; not a strength of character, if you will. Whereas I think and when I came on the court, and not that, again, there wasn’t, we didn’t always try and reach some agreement, it wasn’t unusual…. like the court for example, generally the way we operated, and it’s not secret, you go around and everybody gives their opinion and you see where you stand and then you might do some talking. But that kind of setup reflects a mindset that says well you should come in with your mind at least preliminarily made up and it immediately kind of requires you perhaps to defend your position as opposed to spending some time openly listening to other people. To me, I like to say what I think, I think I’m right, but tell me where I’m wrong, tell me if there is another problem here let’s talk about that. So just because I then say, well, I didn’t think about that, and you may well be right about that and I might go along with that, that doesn’t mean that your position was weak or you’re weak or you can’t be trusted or your word isn’t good. I mean it just shouldn’t have those kind of connotations. Now I don’t want to portray the court as never agreeing or never moving how we get through to the opinion that you finally would read. Those kinds of movements happen and have happened throughout my tenure, but I think my basic view on . . . it’s not bad to talk about these things before you finally rule was a little different than what I had originally met on the court.