Sunday, June 27, 2021

RIP Hollis Joslin, JD '14, attorney, pilot, novelist

I'm heartbroken to report the sudden death of a dear friend, attorney, and alumnus, Hollis Gordon Joslin, JD '14, at age 56.

A husband, father, and grandfather, Hollis was a real-life "Renaissance man."  Besides lawyer, he was an auto mechanic, entrepreneur, licensed pilot, outdoorsman, poet, musician, and novelist.  In law, he practiced in bankruptcy and personal injury.  He made a series of funny ads for his practice, but also a serious one.  Owing to popular skepticism of lawyers, a viewer might misinterpret his serious ad as saccharine, but I can say from knowing Hollis, and knowing his Christian faith, that his down-home expression of compassion for would-be clients is purely genuine.

Hollis came to formal higher education only later in life, finishing his bachelor's in 2010.  In the finest tradition of a non-traditional student in law school, he was respected and adored by youthful classmates, whom he mentored generously with gentle and humble wisdom.  If formally a student in my torts classes, he was foremost a teacher to me, too.  He thought deeply about philosophy, economics, and politics, and was eager for a discussion partner to test out revelations.  I obliged to my own benefit.

One auspicious fruit of Hollis's deep thinking—I like to imagine forged at least in part by our conversations, but I probably self-aggrandize—was a clever novel that he conceived of as a contemporary revision of Randian objectivism, incorporating his own ideas.  Like me, Hollis subscribed to laissez-faire regulatory policy in principle, embodying the libertarian impulses of his native Texas.  But he also was deeply troubled by the prospect of corporatocracy.  Here is a prĂ©cis of the book, "Citizens United":

If, as the Supreme Court said in Citizens United, the political speech of a corporation is no less protected by the First Amendment than that of natural persons, then the First Amendment implies a right for corporations to speak from elected office. That is the theory Vizion Inc. proposed to justify the corporation's candidacy for president of the United States: a less than remarkable development in a dystopian world dominated by the Global Trade Partnership. But the new Republic of Texas is having none of it. Flourishing under a policy of liberty and individual empowerment, Texas is all that stands between freedom and the tyranny of a corporate new world order. 

Hollis had an exciting video trailer made for the book.

I had always intended to write something about Citizens United (the book) here at The Savory Tort, but Hollis had asked me to wait until he devised a sort of "grand premiere."  I think that ambition fell by the wayside as he dove into law practice, and, I admit, I never followed up.

Hollis is survived by his lovely and loving wife, Dr. Cheryl Wathier, a kind and patient soul the likes of which a Renaissance man needs in a partner.  I was privileged to visit Hollis and Cheryl once in Arizona, and I never imagined that would be the last time I would see him.  Now I pray for strength for Cheryl and the kids.  In memory of Hollis, the family asked for donations to St. Jude's Children's Hospital.  My thanks to Justin Kadich, '14, for apprising me of the sad news.

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