Scalia was 'unbelievably energetic' during recent trip to Asia, co-author said

SMU Law Professor Bryan Garner, a close friend of the late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, recalls the personal and professional sides of the justice. Together, they wrote "Reading Law: The Interpretation of Legal Texts" and "Making Your Case: The Art of Persuading Judges."

Tony Mauro
The National Law Journal

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Bryan Garner, a close friend of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia who recently traveled with him to the Far East, said on Sunday that Scalia’s health was “very robust” until the end of his life.

“He was unbelievably energetic and always on the go” during the trip to Singapore and Hong Kong that ended February 4, said Garner the co-author of two books with Scalia. “Having spent 14 hours a day with him so recently, he seemed very strong. I was stunned and shocked” at Scalia’s death at age 79.

Details about Scalia’s final weeks come as Texas officials announced Sunday that the justice’s death was the result of a heart attack. Presidio County Judge Cinderela Guevara said the determination was made without an autopsy, based on verbal reports from local law enforcement officials that there was no evidence of foul play, as well as a conversation Saturday night with Scalia’s physician.

During the Far East trip that began January 24, Scalia and Garner, 57, made numerous presentations at universities about their latest book Reading Law, according to Garner. Scalia also spent an hour with Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. Scalia was looking forward to the trip for months, Garner said. Garner’s wife Karolyne joined the trip to Asia, but Scalia’s wife Maureen did not.

Asked if the trip may have been too rigorous for Scalia, Garner said, “It was par for the course for him.” He also said that Scalia, a longtime smoker, “did not take a puff on a cigar or cigarette for over a year” as far as Garner knew.

A legal writing expert whose LawProse company is based in Dallas, Garner was not with Scalia on his trip to Texas where he died. “I’m not a hunter.” But Garner said he spoke with Scalia by phone last Wednesday.

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