U.S. Magistrate Judge M. David Weisman assured his listeners Thursday that former House speaker John Boehner played no role in his ascension to the bench.
But he still owes Boehner a debt of gratitude, Weisman said.
“Speaker Boehner made it socially acceptable for a man to cry in very public circumstances,” he told the friends, relatives and colleagues who gathered at the Dirksen Federal Courthouse to see him formally sworn in.
Weisman didn’t break into tears during the ceremony, but he did choke up occasionally as he thanked the people he credits for his success.
Weisman said those people include his father, Jed — “He’s the guy in the front row who was crying before anything even happened” — and his siblings, Hope Boren and Ohio-based attorney J. Scott Weisman.
Weisman said his late mother Harriet “taught me the value of feminism early on in my life” and his late sister, Shelly, demonstrated perseverance by getting an education despite a disability.
Weisman and his father weren’t the only family members to have a “Boehner moment” during the investiture.
Weisman’s brother and daughter both became teary-eyed during remarks that combined praise with jokes about his baldness and tendency to sweat when nervous.
One of the observations made by Scott Weisman in his address was “Dave and I could not be more different.”
“At the age of 9, I had my first girlfriend,” he said in a typical comment. “At the age of 29, Dave went on his first date.”
Jocelyn Weisman introduced herself as “Dave’s oldest and, debatably, overall best child.”
She described her father as a selfless and giving man.
“I really hope I can replicate some of my dad’s traits,” she said. “But I really hope I can keep my hair.”
A former colleague, Assistant U.S. Attorney April M. Perry, moved for the administration of the oath.
“There are some judges who know and care about the law,” she said. “There are some judges who know and care about people.
“Dave Weisman will be a judge who does both, and for that we are all very, very lucky.”
Chief U.S. District Judge Ruben Castillo administered the oath while Weisman’s wife, Lisa Parker Weisman, stood beside him.
The Weismans’ son, Griffin, held the Bible and their other children, Jocelyn and Lucas, helped their father put on his robe.
Weisman thanked his friends and mentors as well as his family.
“I know achievement in life is not the product of one person’s efforts,” he said, “but always the product of many people coming together.”
Weisman, 52, majored in commerce with a concentration on accounting at the University of Virginia. He earned his bachelor’s degree in 1987.
After earning a J.D. at the University of Texas School of Law in 1989, Weisman joined the FBI as a special agent.
He was assigned to Waterloo, Iowa, prompting him and his classmates to launch a campaign for a more appropriate location dubbed “Save Dave.”
The campaign’s slogan, Weisman said Thursday, was: “He is single, he is Jewish and he’s going to Waterloo?”
Weisman lost the battle but won the war.
In Waterloo, he met his future wife, a journalist who is now a consumer reporter at NBC News in Chicago.
After serving in the FBI for four years, Weisman joined Glasser & Glasser PLC in Norfolk, Va.
He came to Chicago in 1996 and joined the city’s Law Department.
As an assistant corporation counsel, his duties included working in a program that combated drug and gang activity in the Englewood and Bronzeville neighborhoods through the enforcement of quality-of-life municipal ordinances.
Weisman was hired by the Law Department by Patricia Brown Holmes, who later served as a Cook County associate judge and still later co-founded Riley, Safer, Holmes & Cancila LLP.
On Thursday, Holmes said she hesitated to send the humble and kind Weisman to the Far South Side on his own.
She needn’t have worried, she said.
Weisman was a hit with community groups in the area, she said, and received phone calls — and some cakes — from residents seeking his help.
“He represents all that’s good and fair and just about our legal system at a time when people just don’t trust the judicial system,” Holmes said.
In 2001, Weisman became an assistant U.S. attorney.
He prosecuted cases involving accusations of fraud, gang activity, public corruption and domestic terrorism.
He led the prosecution of Jon Burge, a former Chicago police lieutenant convicted of lying under oath about torturing suspects.
He also led the prosecution of Matthew Hale, a white supremacist who was found guilty of soliciting the murder of U.S. District Judge Joan H. Lefkow.
Weisman’s boss was Patrick J. Fitzgerald, who is now with Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP.
Weisman’s character can be summed up with these words: “A total mensch that everyone loves and trusts,” Fitzgerald said.
Weisman returned to private practice in 2011, joining Katten, Muchin, Rosenman LLP as a partner.
In 2013, Weisman moved to Miller, Shakman & Beem LLP. He handled criminal and civil matters, including internal corporate investigations.
This year, the judges on the Chicago-based federal trial court who have lifetime tenure under Article III of the U.S. Constitution appointed Weisman to an eight-year term as a magistrate judge.
He was selected to fill a vacancy created when U.S. magistrate judge Geraldine Soat Brown retired from the bench.
Magistrate judges conduct settlement conferences in many civil cases.
They preside over most preliminary proceedings in criminal cases and, with the consent of the parties, over the trial of civil cases and misdemeanor criminal cases.
At the request of district judges, magistrate judges also handle such matters as pretrial motions and evidentiary proceedings.
On Thursday, Weisman became so overwhelmed at one point that he invoked a second political figure.
“I am now summoning Nancy Pelosi,” he said as he fought off tears.