World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Lewis Sargentich

Lew Sargentich
Professor Sargentich
Born Lewis Daniel Sargentich
Alhambra, California, USA
Occupation Law Professor, Harvard Law School
Years active 1973–present

Lewis Daniel "Lew" Sargentich (b. 1944[1]), frequently referred to simply as "Sarge", has been a professor at Harvard Law School since 1973 where he teaches courses tort law and jurisprudence. Sargentich is well known for his remarkable tenure as a student at Harvard Law School, where he both named and first analyzed the First Amendment overbreadth doctrine in a student note [1]. He graduated summa cum laude.

He grew up in Alhambra, California, and is the son of Daniel Sargentich, a first-generation American who lost most of his hearing working in copper mines, and Peggy Sargentich, who was known as Margaret until she told a handsome man in a voter registration line that her name was "Peggy" a name that stuck as that man became her husband of 65 years.[2] Sarge is also the brother of Thomas O. Sargentich, the late professor at American University School of law[3][4] and Karen Sargentich Stafford author of The Obelisk and "Dad Turned 90 on the 4th of July: Daniel Milo Sargentich".[5]

He co-authors the popular tort law casebook Tort and Accident Law: Cases and Materials with Gregory Keating and the late Robert Keeton (whose position as editor will be replaced by James Fleming of Boston University Law School in the 2010 edition).[6]


  • Biography 1
    • Academic career 1.1
    • Early legal career 1.2
    • Later career 1.3
    • Personal 1.4
  • References 2


Academic career

During his time at Alhambra High School Sargentich was the most acclaimed student orator in the country.[7] He won both the prestigious National Forensic League Boys Domestic Extemporaneous Speaking tournament[8] and the Lions Club National Speaker Contest in 1961.[9] He then attended and graduated from Occidental College, Sussex University, and Harvard Law School.

His brilliant academic career won him many accolades. Notably, Sargentich was one of a total of only six HLS students to receive the summa cum laude designation at Harvard Law during the over fifty years in which it was determined by a Grade Point Average threshold. While earning this distinction, Sargentich gained his first exposure to his future field of tort law in a course on the subject taught by longtime HLS Professor Robert Keeton, who gave him an A+. This performance was sandwiched between his experiences as a Marshall Scholar[10] at the University of Sussex in 1965 and as one of Thurgood Marshall's Supreme Court Law Clerks in 1970–71.

Early legal career

He first gained acclaim in the legal profession for his student article, The First Amendment Overbreadth Doctrine (83 Harv. L. Rev. 844 ), which has been cited by over 210 scholarly works and over 150 cases making it the second most cited student legal article ever written.[11] The article has been widely acclaimed as brilliant and sufficient impetus for HLS's extremely rare award of tenure to Sargentich before he had published any works professionally. Ironically, the only published work Sargentich has authored since being granted tenure is the above noted casebook; however, he is commonly cited for his unpublished manuscript Complex Enforcement written in March 1978 and on file at the Harvard Law School Library.[12]

Sargentich clerked at the Supreme Court during the height of the Vietnam War protest era, when the Court was on security alert from time to time. A confidential memo to justices from Court Clerk E. Robert Seaver, dated May 3, 1971, warned ominously that "further trouble [i.e., an alert] is expected tomorrow morning". The memo laid out the security measures that executive-branch employees were using, including leaving the office early "to avoid a heavy rush-hour traffic and further trouble with the demonstrators". The memo also said: "The key executives in the executive branch are being told that if they want to avoid possible delays they should be in their offices by 6 a.m." Next to that sentence is a hand-drawn line, leading to a note at the bottom, apparently written by Marshall himself which read: "Not germane to law clerk Sargentich!!!"

Asked about the note, Sargentich laughed loudly. "That was the justice, all right", he said. That year, Sargentich recalls, "I always strolled in rather late, and then worked very late", a habit he continues even now. "Getting in at 6 a.m.? I'm barely moving at that hour".[13] Reflecting on his time as a clerk, Sargentich once commented that Justice Marshall "always was a person who believed in liberal values and who believed in the law and its service to the world".[14]

Later career

After clerking, Sargentich worked as staff counsel for the Washington Research Project for a year.[15] He then worked for a year as associate general counsel for the United Mine Workers in Washington.[15][16] He currently teaches jurisprudence and torts at Harvard Law; he became a lecturer at the school in 1973 at the age of 29, an assistant professor in 1974, and a full professor in 1979.[15][17] Listing him as "One of 10 Professors to Take" in 2003, the Harvard Law Record noted that "[a]s the legal academy focuses increasingly on the intersection of law and politics, economics, race, literature, Sargentich stands tall as a steadfast expositor of the philosophical roots of law".[18] His other activities at Harvard while a professor have included chairing Harvard's international graduate program.[19]

On October 16, 1983, the

  1. ^
  2. ^ a b
  3. ^ 3/7/04 Monterey County Herald
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^ See, e.g. Doe v. District of Columbia, 701 F.2d 948, 226 U.S.App.D.C. 212, C.A.D.C., January 11, 1983 (NO. 80-2171)
  13. ^ 138 N.J.L.J. 674
  14. ^ 4/15/98 Chi. Trib. 11 1998 WLNR 6523195
  15. ^ a b c "Lewis D. Sargentich." Marquis Who's Who TM. Marquis Who's Who, 2009. Reproduced in Biography Resource Center. Farmington Hills, Mich.: Gale, 2009.
  16. ^ See e.g. North American Coal Corp. v. Local Union 2262, United Mine Workers of America, 497 F.2d 459
  17. ^
  18. ^
  19. ^
  20. ^ 10/16/83 N.Y. Times (Abstracts) 416; Subscription only article available at:
  21. ^
  22. ^
  23. ^
  24. ^
  25. ^


Sargentich is married to and frequently makes joint contributions with Valerie Bradley,[2] who has been the President of the states and the federal government to enhance services and supports to people with mental illness and people with intellectual disabilities—in Cambridge, MA since its inception in 1976.[22][23][24] Sarge's apparent technological backwardness was recently satirized in a Harvard Law Record April Fools Day article quoting (a fictional version of) Sargentich as saying "I still don't fully understand what the Internet even is, your world frightens and confuses [me]".[25]


In class, Sargentich is a brilliant lecturer and possesses an uncanny ability to summarize and elucidate difficult texts. Harvard Law students have overwhelmingly enjoyed his classes, calling him on course evaluations "brilliant", "inspirational", "the king", and "the smartest man on this planet or any other" among other things.[21]

"What makes McGovern different is just this: He moved his party not to the right but to the left - and he seeks to move it to the left again. That, it seems to us, is reason enough to support his candidacy."

The letter provides a rare window into Sargentich's political leanings. It states in part: [20]

This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.