Friday, April 13, 2012

In the Chicago style of lawyering

Years ago, I told this story, including a reference to Clarence Darrow. Recently, I read Clarence Darrow: Attorney for the Damned, and it is an outstanding book.

One part of it came to mind recently when I read of the recent statements by President Obama, pressuring the Supreme Court into upholding the Affordable Care Act. In the trial of Leopold and Loeb, Darrow got the two killers to plead guilty without an agreement on sentencing. In the same manner as President Obama, the prosecutor applied extra-legal arguments to shame the judge into giving the killers the death penalty. Darrow knew better than to respond in kind, based on his view that likeability wins cases. The judge's comments suggest that the prosecutor's over-reaching might have been the main reason why he gave the killers life in prison, instead of sentencing them to death.

Perhaps Darrow was a better Chicago lawyer than is the President.

Also, one of the Tennessee lawyers who figured in the Scopes trial, another subject of the book, was a fellow named Sue Hicks, whose name might have been the basis for the Johnny Cash song about a boy named Sue.

Monday, April 09, 2012

On traveling to New York City

Our gang took a road trip to New York City, where I had not been since a DRI conference in 2005 and not just for fun since 1995.

In the circumstances, it was a great adventure - the Amtrak to Penn Station, the subway, the Top of the Rock, the ferry to the Statue of Liberty, seeing The Phantom of the Opera again at the Majestic. It was no less of an adventure for having done some of the same things thirty or twenty or seven years ago.

Along the way, the train passed by among other things the Philadelphia Zoo, where I saw their oldest gorilla in the Spring of 1983. The train crossed the Susquehanna, skirted the Chesapeake, and cruised past the D.C. monuments and some of the Johns Hopkins buildings in Baltimore.

And, passing by all these places and thinking of different times I had been there, I thought of another part of the Roger Ebert book, where he described the comfort he derived from familiar places, with the thought that "I have been here, I am here now, I will be here again."