The American Bar Association mourns the loss of its former president, Talbot (“Sandy”) D’Alemberte, who passed away Monday at age 85. Our thoughts go out to his family, including his wife, Patsy Palmer, his daughter, Gabrielle, and his son, Joshua.
D’Alemberte served as ABA president in 1991-92. He was considered one of the leading advocates for human and civil rights around the world, a pioneer of dispute resolution, a constitutional expert, and a champion of open government.
In 1990 after the fall of the Berlin wall, D’Alemberte worked to create “CEELI” (the Central European and Eurasian Law Institute), a program to help in the development of constitutions, laws and institutional improvements in the Central and Eastern European region. The program was expanded to involve all other regions of the world and is now the Rule of Law Initiative, which currently promotes justice, economic opportunity and human dignity through the rule of law in 50 countries around the world.
From 1976-79, D’Alemberte served as the first chair of the ABA Special Committee on Resolution of Minor Disputes. He was a leading voice in the early days of the modern dispute resolution movement, which has grown into the ABA Section on Dispute Resolution. He also served as chair of the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admission to the Bar (1982-83) as well as several other ABA committees, including chair of the first election reform committee.
D’Alemberte received the ABA Medal, the association’s highest honor, in 2003, as well as the Robert Drinan Award from the ABA Section of Individual Rights, the ABA Section of Legal Education’s Robert J. Kutak Award and the ABA World Order Under Law Award. He also received numerous awards throughout his distinguished career from various legal and civic associations, including an Emmy in 1985 for his work in open government, particularly in the opening of court proceedings to electronic journalists.
He served as president of Florida State University from 1994 to 2003 and dean of Florida State University Law School from 1984-89.
In 2003, D’Alemberte, always a defender of justice, helped start the Innocence Project of Florida to help innocent prisoners obtain their freedom and rebuild their lives.
Members of the ABA are honored to call him a colleague and friend. We will greatly miss him but his many achievements at the Association and beyond will live on as a testament to his enormous impact.