Lawyers, the IRS, Economics
WE LAWYERS ARE NOT TAUGHT ECONOMICS
(or even math, for that matter)
One thing we are not taught in law school is economics. When it comes to economics, we are UN-educated.
We are only taught one economic theory:
the redistribution of wealth
by means of litigation.
But we are taught to be the orators of society. And some lawyers are really good at this. I mean really good. I was good too, and I prided myself at winning most of my cases, but some lawyers just put me to shame.
I admired the way some lawyers operated in the courtroom, twisting and bending things beyond all possible recognition.
Some lawyers are really good! Some lawyers are so good at what they can pull off in the courtroom. They can work magic. They can make it appear that:
Any relationship between what actually did happen
outside of the courtroom,
and what was testified to inside the courtroom —
was purely coincidental.
Witness the following case:
A Minnesota Swede (a farmer) was walking his cow Bessie along the road by a rope.
Suddenly, out of nowhere, a truck came speeding around the corner and knocked the farmer and Bessie off the road into a ditch.
Like any red-blooded American with any backbone at all, the farmer sued the trucking company.
The case went to court, and the defense attorney for the trucking company had the plaintiff-farmer on the witness stand. He was cross examining him, and the lawyer said,
“Sir, is it not true that, on the day of the accident, after you were allegedly, and inadvertently knocked into the ditch, that the truck driver got out of his truck, and came back to where you were. He then asked, ‘Are you hurt?” — to which you emphatically said, ‘No, I am not hurt.’ Now please answer the question with a simple yes or no reply only.”
The farmer replied, ‘Well, it was like this, I was waling Bessie along the road with a rope, when suddenly, swoooosh around the corner this truck came speeding. He knock Bessie and me off…”
The defense lawyer, slow on his feet, jumped up and said,
“I object! I asked for a simple yes or no answer, not a dialogue.”
The judge sustained the defense lawyer’s objection, and told the farmer to answer with a yes or no only. Then he asked the lawyer to restate the question, which he did, but again the farmer began a long answer.
Again the defense lawyer objected, and again the judge sustained the objection.
But when it happened yet again, the third time, the judge relented and just said to let the farmer complete what he wanted to say.
The farmer said, “Your honor, a simple yes or no answer is just not that easy. I’m trying to tole you the truth, but every time I do, this lawyer he objects. You see, I was walking Bessie along the road with a rope when all of of sudden swoooosh, around the corner come this truck speeding.
“He knock Bessie and me off the road into a ditch. The truck driver he get out and come back and look down at Bessie and see that she is a goner for sure. So, he pull out his gun and he shot Bessie!!!
“Then he come back to me, his gun still smoking,
and say, “Are YOU hurt?”
This is a good example of the nature of some things as they occur — first outside, and then inside the courtroom. You’re never quite sure how much you hear in the courtroom is fact, and how much is fantasy or fiction.
I once had a judge take myself, and opposing counsel back into his chambers for a recess. He said, “The biggest problem I’m having in this case is deciding which one of your clients is lying the most.”
This is why our so-called justice system is called a legal system of red tape. Sometimes any relationship between reality, testimony and legal reasoning have absolutely nothing in common.
“No poet, and no artist
ever interpreted nature
as freely as a lawyer does truth!
Again, we lawyers love problems. We know the bigger the problem the more it’s worth, and the more money we can charge. So we tend to make everything as big and as complicated as possible.
Lawyers, the IRS, Economics
PREPARING “A LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT”
We lawyers are a complicated bunch. A lawyer wrote a Last Will and Testament that I was hired to have probated at a formal hearing due to the fact that there was a contest to the will. The will had been drafted by a lawyer some 20 years earlier. I had read one clause in the will over and over again, and I had NO idea what it was saying.
When I got to the courtroom, I knew I was going to be quizzed about this particular passage, and sure enough, the judged asked for my interpretation of what this clause was saying. I told him I’d read it 20 times and still didn’t understand what it was saying. He laughed: “Well, I’ve read it more times than that and I still don’t know what it is saying either.”
Many lawyers, like myself, try to write in a way that can be comprehended, but many don’t. Many think there must be at least 100 words before the first period. They don’t know what the word ‘brief’ means, which is meant to describe a legal document.
Most lawyers write a 10,000 word document and call it a ‘brief.’ At 300 words to the page, that’s over 33 pages. That ain’t brief. (By the way, ‘ain’t’ is now in a lot of dictionaries).
A LAWYER MASTER OF CEREMONIES
Also, things that lawyers say aren’t always accurate either. They often invent so many stories that they don’t know what is truth and what is fiction.
A case in point was the lawyer who was serving as master of ceremonies at a banquet. He was introducing the speaker and said, “Our speaker made a million dollars in the oil business right here in Colorado.”
The speaker got up and his first words were:
“Thanks for that fine introduction, but it wasn’t entirely accurate.
— It wasn’t the oil business, but the coal business.
— It wasn’t here in Colorado, but in North Dakota.
— It wasn’t a million dollars but $250,000.
— It wasn’t me, it was my son.
— And he didn’t make it, he lost it.”
Lawyers, the IRS, Economics
THE INFERNAL REVENUE CODE
A prime example of the complexity of lawyers is The Infernal Revenue Code. Oh excuse me: The Internal Revenue Code. It must have been a Freudian slip. But experts say the average person can only comprehend a maximum of about 40 words in a sentence before the mind just goes on ‘overboard,’ and clicks off, and tunes out.
The average length of a sentence in the Internal Revenue Code is 100 words.
— One sentence contains 379 words.
— And another has 385 words.
— The longest sentence in the Code contains 506 words.
Someone has said,
“The Code should be held unconstitutional
simply because it is so incomprehensible.”
Of course, as you might expect, it was lawyers who wrote most of the Code. Lawyers don’t have to be verbose in order to confuse people. But verbosity sure does help.
I love quoting the following section of the Infernal Revenue Code:
“For the purposes of Paragraph 3, an organization
described in Paragraph 2 shall be deemed to be
an organization described in Section 501(c), 4, 5 or 6,
which would be described in Paragraph 2
if it were an organization described in 501(c)(3).”
You need more than a legal degree from Harvard to even begin to understand clauses like this in the Code.
This may be the best — or the worst example of legal jargon.
GIVING SOMEONE AN ORANGE
Here’s another example . . .
If you want to give someone something, you would just give it to them right? For instance, let’s say you want to give someone an orange. Yes, just a simple orange. You would simply hand it to them and say,
“Here, I give you this orange.”
This is not true with lawyers. We are taught to leave absolutely nothing to chance. So we would say something like the following:
“I hereby give, grant, bargain, sell, convey and quitclaim
all my right, title and interest in and concerning this chattel,
otherwise known as an orange.
Together with all the appurtenances thereto
of skin, pulp, pip, rind, seeds and juice,
for the use of the beneficiary, to himself
and his assigns, and personal representatives,
in fee simple forever.
Free from all liens encumbrances, limitations,
restraints, easements, covenants,
restrictions, or conditions, of whatsoever kind or character,
and any and all prior conveyances, transfers, deeds,
or other documents now or to the contrary notwithstanding.
With full power to bite, cut, suck
or otherwise to use said orange,
or otherwise to dispose of the same,
with or without its skin, pulp, pip, rind, seeds or juice.”
Take notes, you lovers of our legal system of jurisprudence!
This is law at it’s finest.
Law is a unique profession. Actually, you must admit that we lawyers are really creative. Like medical doctors and other professionals, we invent our own language, knowing the average person can’t understand it.
After all, if you can’t understand what we are saying, you need us more, right? We lawyers call it ingenious. Some call it insanity. But we love to use the language we invent.
Words like the following:
res ipsa loquitur,
… stare decisis,
… respondeat superior,
… caveat emptor,
… voir doir,
… per stirpes,
… nunc pro tunc.
I like to throw in cape diem just because it sounds legal, even though it’s not.
One of my favorites is nolo contendre, which was defined even by Readers Digest Magazine as meaning, “Judge, I didn’t do it, and I promise to never do it again.”
The Esteemed Sir Winston Churchill. Churchill was a constant thorn in the flesh to lawyers. Of course in England, we are referred to as barristers, or as solicitors. Sir Winston, in his never ending wit said,
“Lawyers have a way of saying things that are vague,
but in reality meaningless.”
I think this can be evidenced from the way some lawyers ask questions of witnesses. These questions are documented in an actual court transcripts. One such recorded questioning follows.
“Did you or did you not, on the aforementioned day Friday, November 4th, feloniously and with malicious aforethought,
listen at the keyhole of the 10th floor condominium,
then occupied as a residence by the defendant in the within action,
— on 86th Street at West End Avenue.
And did you also, on the Wednesday following the Friday
in November heretofore referred to,
communicate to your wife the information acquired,
and repeat the conversation overheard on that occasion
— with the result that the gossip of your wife gave
far and wide outcry to the overheard conversation?
Did you or did you not? Yes or no?”
Yes, we lawyers are the orators of our modern society. And of equal oratorical and perhaps even rhetorical nature, again recorded in the annuals of legal history in a court transcription, is the following:
“Sir, did you or did you not, on the date in question,
or at any time previously or subsequently,
say or even intimate to the defendant,
or to anyone else for that matter,
whether friend or mere acquaintance, or in fact a stranger,
that the statement imputed to you, whether just or unjust,
and denied by the Plaintiff, was a matter of the moment or otherwise?
Did you or did you not?”
The noteworthy reply of the witness was, “Huh???
Lawyers are a different breed of human being. First of all, we are unbelievably detailed. This can be seen by the nature of the court room questions we just looked at, as well as by the example of giving the orange away, as we saw.