Stephen G. Sweet
Words may not do justice to the distinquished and prolific career of our departed colleague and friend, Stephen G. Sweet, Esq. A few words in honor of his memory and achievements are but a poor tribute to the passing of this unique individual.
Steve played many roles in life, that of a loving husband, dedicated father, scout leader, fundraiser for his alma mater, Rutgers, and gentleman farmer. However, we knew him as a lawyer, and Steve loved being a lawyer. In a time when attorneys are more reviled than respected, more often ridiculed than praised, he was the personification of the skillful advocate and scholar that brings honor to the profession. He had the rare ability to vigorously champion a client’s cause without being abrasive. In the days since his passing, his colleagues, including adversaries from the more than 250 Trials he completed throughout the State of New Jersey have commented on his skill and ability, always adding that he was a "true gentleman".
It is said that the true measure of achievement is one’s standing in the eyes of one’s peers. A while ago I began a Trial before a judge in Monmouth County. Several days into the case, I was called up to the bench during a short break. At this point, I believed that my cross-examination had been effective and that the case was proceeding quite favorably for the defense. However, instead of commenting on the status of the case, or the conduct of the Trial, the judge wanted to know if my partner was Stephen Sweet. When I acknowledged that he was, the judge began to tell me about a Trial conducted many years ago in Monmouth County when he was a law clerk serving a now deceased judge. He recalled an opportunity to observe Steve’s cross-examination of a doctor. Following what probably was a surgically effective cross-examination, the judge said that he commented to himself "That’s what it means to be a lawyer."
I know that this particular judge was not the only attorney or judge that Steve left an indelible impression upon. The outpouring of condolences from friends and adversaries alike since his passing is a testament to the respect he earned over his many years of practice. His easy going and self-effacing nature belied his depth of knowledge of the law and skill as a trial lawyer. This rare combination seems to be almost extinct amongst the newer members of the bar. The fact that he handled more than 250 Trials and tried cases in each county of the state, and each Federal District Court of the district is a prodigious accomplishment. Without question, he left a lasting imprint on the practice of the law in the State of New Jersey.
Steve will be greatly missed and for one last time we will ".. remember to do the best we can today... over and out."