Law and Justice
OUR LAWS ARE DRAFTED BY LAWYERS
In just beginning law school I heard a speech by the dean who said, “You are about to embark on a course of study that will try your very souls. Some of you will make it, and some will crack. If you make it, you will go on to draft our laws. If you crack you become lawyers.”
In the open courtroom one day, after a trial, a judge made a thought-provoking statement. He said to both parties: “If I’ve made either of you happy today, then I haven’t done my job.”
Another judge made a very interesting statement. In speaking to one of the parties, with whom the judge was irritated because the man was whining and obnoxious he very sternly said:
“Sir, the law is not necessarily fair.
The law is simply the law.”
I asked if I could quote him.
He said he’d hold me in contempt of court if I did.
There was a guy in the divorce trial who said that all he got awarded was the stuff that fell off his ex-wife’s truck as she pulled away.
One of the parties in the courtroom one day stood up and said, “Your honor, I demand justice!” The judge replied, “Sit down and shut up. Have you forgotten where you are?”
I’ve discovered that going to court is a little bit like playing Russian Roulette.
LAW IS ABOUT TRANSFERRING BLAME
In court, lawyers must often be very inventive, to find ways from keeping their client from being convicted of a crime. We often try to do this by trying to transfer the blame to someone else. A lawyer was defending his client against drunken driving charges and he put a farmer on the witness stand and was examining him:
“So you are the one who planted the corn —
that was used by the distillery —
and sold to the brewery —
that made the liquor —
that was sold to the bar —
that served my client —
that caused him to have an accident
while driving home drunk.”
EXPECTANCY CAN BE A KILLER
Some people seem to think that lawyers are like miracle workers. We can’t pull rabbits out of the hat all the time.
If you get drunk, get in your car,
and try to run someone down,
don’t expect your lawyer to get you off
with an overtime parking fine.
In the law, false expectancy can really be a killer. I’ve won cases that I knew I should have lost, and I’ve lost cases I knew I had won. Life doesn’t just always make sense. As I said, it’s a little bit like playing Russian Roulette.
It’s like the lady who wrote the Kayro Corn Syrup Company. She said, “Gentlemen, I’ve taken three bottles of your corn syrup, and my corns are still just as bad as ever.”
Again, expecting your lawyer to be a miracle worker is a little like…
Expecting the government to reduce spending.
Expecting the Mafia to fight crime.
Expecting the fox to guard the hen-house.
Expecting the U.S. President to be trustworthy.
CHARLIE JARVIS IS A DENTIST-HUMORIST
WHO DEALT WITH FALSE-EXPECTANCY
Charlie Jarvis is a dentist-turned-humorist.
He says that he had some problems with expectancy in dental practice. He tells the story of a patient who came in and said he wanted the yellow stain to be taken off his teeth. Charlie said, “Good grief, man, you’ve been smoking for 25 years. I can’t get the yellow off those teeth.” The man said, “Now Dr. Jarvis, you are a professional man, surely you can suggest something.” Charlie said, “I guess we could pull them all.”
The man was outraged, and jumped up out of his chair: “Pull them? Are you crazy? I expect some professional advice better than that.”
Charlie said, “How about wearing a brown tie?”
There are some things that you just can’t do anything about — but yet some people expect you to do something if you’re a professional person.
Talking about expectancy, there was an old lady who called the fire department. She said a man was trying to break into her apartment. The man told her she needed the police, not the fire department. But she kept insisting she wanted the fire department. The man asked why she needed the fire department and she replied, “Because I’m on the second floor, and he needs a ladder.”
Expectancy can be a real crusher. You have to know where folks are coming from.
People don’t know the process of education we go through to become attorneys. And some people criticize how we lawyers are educated.
Comedian Al Capp made a remark about law school:
“If they are going to consider that to be education,
we should call a bank robbery ‘a financial transaction’.”
Learning things from your lawyer. And other people watch us and pick up on our legal thinking traits.
There is the story of the farmer who learned a lot from his lawyer’s way of thinking. A stranger walked up to the front door of his farmhouse and asked how much the farmer’s bull was worth. Pausing to consider the question, the farmer finally replied, “Well, that depends!
— Do you want to buy him?
— Are you a tax collector?
— Or did he just get run over by a truck?”
I guess he’d learned some things from his lawyer.
But again, expectancy is a big killer of reality. A guy bought a copy of Ernest Hemmingway’s book: Across the River and Into the Trees. He shortly returned the book to the bookstore and wanted his money back. He thought it was a golf book.
Another example of people thinking like lawyers is the story of the businessman who had a terminal illness and wasn’t expected to live. He wanted to see his lawyer about revising his Last Will & Testament.
He said he wanted to put a clause in his will for his employees: all who had worked for him for 20 years would receive $50,000. His lawyer said that was very generous, but that the man had only been in business for 10 years, and he was going to die soon. The man said, “I know… I know… but it makes for great publicity, and enhances our corporate image.”
We lawyers are paid to give advice, as said by Abe Lincoln.
Law and Justice
A LAWYER’S JOB IS TO GIVE ADVICE
(You must decide if the advice is good or not)
A doctor gives his lawyer credit for some good advice. The doctor said he was always being plagued by people at social events to give them professional advice about something they were experiencing. He said it irritated him and he asked what he could do about it. The lawyer thought and then said, “Well, merely tell them to take off all their clothes and let you examine them.” The doctor said it worked great and people stopped asking him questions.
Another doctor learned about marketing from his lawyer. The lawyer told him that if he made his patients wait in the waiting room longer, they would get even sicker due to being exposed to other patients who were more sick than they were. The doctor reported that this worked great when he increased the waiting time from 30 to 45 minutes. His billings increased about 30%.
Lawyers are often asked for advice about money matters. I’ve always wondered why someone would drive to a lawyer’s office in a Mercedes, to get money advice from someone who drives to his office in a Toyota. But I guess that’s not my concern, is it?
I was in a lawyer’s office once and he had a book on the shelf titled:
The Short History of Money
(It was 100 pages all blank)
And money is important. It does at least four things:
(1) it provides security,
(2) it pays the bills,
(3) it buys toys, leisure and fun,
(4) it helps bridge the generation gap.
The Generation Gap. Speaking of the generation gap, this little boy asked his dad (who was an important judge) how he could get $20 to buy something he wanted. To get rid of him, his dad told him to write God and ask him for it.
The boy did write God, telling him why he needed $20, and mailed the letter, just addressing it to ‘God.’ The post office didn’t know what to do with it so they sent it to the President in Washington D.C.
He didn’t know what to do with it, but didn’t want the boy to think God forgot him, so he sent him back $10, hoping the reduction in funds would teach the boy money management (probably adding it to the national debt).
When the boy got the money he went into his dad complaining that God had sent the money back through the government, but they had kept half of it.
Personal Opinion vs. Professional Advice. Sometimes we lawyers have a choice to make in giving people advice. When clients ask me questions, I’ll sometimes reply by asking:
“Do you want my personal opinion,
or my professional advice?”
They are not always one and the same.
THE TEN COMMANDMENTS OF LAW
Let me share the 10 commandments for lawyers. By the way, don’t tell any lawyer I shared these with you or they might get mad.
A Supreme Court Justice recently remarked that we now have over 10 million LAWS in America to enforce the 10 COMMANDMENTS. This is why we lawyers sometimes get confused, wouldn’t you imagine? And it’s also why we have developed the 10 commandments of lawyers, which I will now share with you.
Every sentence of 100 words should have at least one comma. Note: this will also give English teachers a thrill because I understand they don’t get many thrills.
Every group of 50 words should have at least one loophole in it, and for every loophole you create or find, you can increase your fee at least 25%.
If you can’t convince the opposition, confuse them, and if you have no basis for an argument, browbeat and abuse the other party.
Question everything, deny nothing, talk by the hour, and be utterly obnoxious — and vague as possible. Remember: you are not in the law for popularity, but for money.
Always be sincere, whether you mean it or not.
Never assume anything at all, unless it’s a mortgage.
Remember that castles in the air are the only pieces of real estate
a person can own without the intervention of lawyers.
This is because there are no title deeds to them.
Neurotics, build them, psychotics live in them,
and psychologists collect the rent.
The more two lawyers disagree, the more chance there is that one of them may be right. The law consists of strife, contention, conflict and disagreement.
A verbal contract isn’t worth the paper it’s written on.
But neither is a written contract, for most practical purposes, so what difference does it make? Cherish those file cabinets full of worthless pieces of paper most people call ’contracts,’ and collect all of them you can because they will provide you with more work in the future.
Never view anything as simple: make everything as complex as is possible. Given more time, and a larger fee, you can complicate anything. And don’t worry about morals.
Remember Nixon’s axiom:
“If 2 wrongs don’t make a right, then try 3.”
Nixon is also the one who said,
“If the President does it, this means it is not illegal.”
Right! And the moon is made out of green cheese too!
Everything is easier to get into than it is to get out of. Therefore, if your clients are in it up to their noses, tell them to keep their mouths shut. Then charge them twice as much to get out of it.
If you’re guilty and wrong, don’t admit it. Remember that lawyers never, never make misteaks. (Oh… forgive me. I mean mistakes).
I just screwed up. I blew it. That is 11 commands, not 10. O.K., I won’t charge extra for the 11th one. Besides, I told you we lawyers aren’t good at math.
These 10 commandments help lawyers to keep from living in total chaos.
LAWYERS OFTEN CREATE CHAOS
Speaking of chaos, I like this story. A prostitute, a doctor, an engineer and a lawyer were talking one day, and they were arguing about what was the oldest profession in the world. The prostitute said, “Come on, it’s just a given — we know that prostitution is the oldest profession. It’s not open for debate.”
However, the doctor said, “That’s not necessarily true. Early in the book of Genesis it says that God made woman by taking a rib from the side of man. That is a surgical technique, and so I feel medicine is the oldest profession in the world.”
But the engineer replied, “Yes but earlier in Genesis it says that God created the heavens and the earth out of chaos. This is an engineering feat, and thus engineering is the oldest profession in the world.”
The lawyer simply said, “Who do you think created the chaos?”
Law and Justice
INTRODUCING NEW LAWS
Speaking of laws again, in ancient times laws used to be introduced in a very simple way: the person would stand on a platform with a rope around their neck as they proposed it. If people liked the proposed law they would remove the rope. If they didn’t like the proposed law they would remove the platform.
It sure cut down on meaningless law and regulations.
I think they should implement this in Congress.
What do you think?
Speaking of Congress, one Congressman was asked why so many of them choose to spend most of their time in Washington D.C., rather than at home. He said, “Because we can’t live at home under some of the laws we pass.”
Many things don’t make common sense. Someone has said, “It’s only in America that we lock up the jury at night — but allow the accused to go home free.”
LITIGATION CAN BE HUMOROUS
Litigation can sometimes be humorous, unless you are the one involved in it. At least you have the choice to either laugh or cry.
For instance, have you heard about the continuous law suits over bras? Certain private schools insist that girls wear bras, and some girls don’t like it. So every year there are lawsuits for discrimination.
Perhaps they should insist that boys wear bras too, so there wouldn’t be any discrimination. It would make as much sense.
Who knows, maybe guys should start wearing lipstick too.
A college student in Boulder, Colorado sued his parents. He sued them for what he termed, “The mal-practice of parenting.” The court, I believe rightly, threw the case out saying that there was no such tort.
But litigation like this bogs down our court system. It does show the hurt some people harbor in their lives. Plus, although most courts agree there is no such tort, there are lawsuits between family members (even kids and parents) every year over money issues.
Another meaningful piece of litigation involved the parent of a child and the coach of his little league baseball team. After the season started, the folks found out the coach was homosexual. The parent could have taken his child off the team, but instead he sued. He sued demanding his $44 registration and uniform fee.
We live in a sue-crazy culture. We’ll go the extra mile to find some reason to sue.
Besides, the coach was just following the leading of our government. You know we have a transvestite government, don’t you? It’s true:
We used to have a tall, energetic, lanky
but all we have now is a big, fat, lazy
AMERICANS HAVE A DIFFERENT MINDSET
We Americans have a different mindset from everyone else in the world. Some people say it comes from lawyers, and our litigious society. They may be right.
But here’s a case in point. An Englishman, a Frenchman, and an American were flying over the vast Sahara Desert. The Englishman said, “It’s a beastly, barren place, isn’t it?”
The Frenchman agreed: “Yes, it’s the devil’s playground — a real hell hole.”
The American looked at the scene below him, but he saw it very different from the other two men. He said, “It would make one hell of a fantastic parking lot.”
THIS BI-SEXUAL CASE IS A FAVORITE OF MINE
One of my favorite litigation stories is where a female employee’s boss was declared to be bi-sexual by the court, and this was held to be adequate to defeat her case for sexual discrimination. She had sued him for sexually harassing her, and she lost — the court found against her.
The court declared as follows: “His insistence upon sexual favors from plaintiff was not discrimination because the defendant was bi-sexual.”
The court said the defendant liked both men and women. Being bi-sexual, he DID sexually harass her, but he was not discriminatory in his sexual harassment.
His lawyer was brilliant in his defense. He argued: “Yes, he did it to her — he sexually harassed her. But you can’t say it was discrimination because he did it to men too.”
JUDGES CAN BE A TOTALLY DIFFERENT BREED
It’s a popular quote: “The law and justice make strange bed-fellows.” This particularly applies to this case, don’t you think?
Judges can be strange, acting like God in their courtroom.
This psychologist died and went to heaven. He was greeted at the big gates by Saint Peter who said, “Boy are we glad to see you! Come quick! God has an ego problem!”
The psychologist took a couple steps backwards and said, “You’ve got to be kidding. How can God have an ego problem?” Peter said, “He’s behaving like a federal appellate court judge!”
If you are religious, please note the pun is on judges, not on God.
Some judges do have a sense of humor. This judge fined a man for speeding. After imposing the fine the judge said, “When you pay, be sure to keep your receipt.” The man asked why this was important. The judge said, “It’s because you already have one speeding ticket, and this one makes two. If you get one more you get a bicycle.”
And some judges preach a little too. . . although it usually falls on deaf ears. One day a judge was saying to a defendant: “It’s alcohol, and the evils of alcohol alone, that is responsible for your deplorable condition.” The sermon went right over the man’s head and he replied: “Well, thank you, your honor. Everyone has been telling me it’s all my fault.”
The most interesting comment a judge ever made to me was, “Himes, you’re too moral to be a lawyer.” I pondered that comment for years.
Speaking of morality, a lawyer was talking to his associate and said, “As soon as I found out the deal was crooked, I got out of it.” Without looking up, his associate asked, “Oh? How much?”
Lawyers aren’t saints, but all of us aren’t crooks either. The infamous Clarence Darrow, a renown lawyer of national fame, returned home after many years. He met a doctor that he’d gone to school with, and the doctor said, “Darrow if you’d listened to me, you too would now be a doctor.”
Clarence said, “Oh, and what may I ask is wrong with being a lawyer?” The doctor replied, “Well, I don’t say all lawyers are crooks, but let’s face facts: even you must admit that your profession doesn’t make angels out of men.” Darrow chuckled, “No, you’re right. You doctors definitely have the better of us there.”
The theology may be questionable,
but the point is well taken.
There was a case where a judge was sentencing a man for car theft. He imposed a 25 year sentence, and the man cried out: “But your honor, I’m already 59 years old. I’ll never live long enough to complete the sentence.”
The judge replied, “Well sir, you just do the very best you possibly can. I can’t stop car thefts in this county, but there is one thing I can do: the next time there is a car theft, the folks of this county will have peace of mind knowing you didn’t do it.”
A client of mine was being sentenced for drunken driving. The judge said, “Wow! You’ve appeared before me several times the past 10 years. What’s wrong?” My client said, “Can I help it if you can not get promoted?”
I asked him why he said that when I visited him in jail.
I love the scene in the movie Back to the Future, Part 3. It shows the lead characters in a scene in the future where a major trial in the courts had only taken a couple of days. The guy from the past was amazed and asked his friend, the old inventor, how this could be. He said, “Things run a lot better now since they abolished the lawyers.”
AS MY CLOSING ARGUMENT
Let me just finish this up by telling you the difference between two very important things: education and experience.
Education is what you get when you read a contract.
Experience is what you get when you don’t read it.
I’ll close paraphrasing the words of Mark Russell, the Washington D.C. humorist I mentioned earlier (I love his writings on lawyers!)
“America without lawyers would be like Rome without priests.
Take the lawyers out of America and the entire country
would become like a silent movie set.”
The defense rests its case!
Roger Himes, J.D., Lawyer