You write a blog and wind up revealing things….about yourself. Among other things.
Over at Simple Justice, Scott Greenfield has one post about a phony curmudgeon – he being the genuine article, of course – followed quickly by another post in which he fights yesterday’s losing battle yet again.
It’s lawyers who need time for sabbaticals, not law professors. And you couldn’t have a better example.
First the set-up:
There’s an adage, the only thing worse than a young fool is an old fool. Age doesn’t make one wise. Learning from experience does, and one of the things one learns from experience is to appreciate new ideas.
SHG goes on, but damned if he isn’t fixated only on young fools:
Give the kids tummy rubs because it makes them feel better about themselves and doesn’t hurt their feelings. There is an industry that provides seminars on how to do this…
Condescend much, Scott?
What’s pretty sweet about SHG’s trip to the keyboard this morning, though, is the swiftness with which he hands so much ammunition to the other side of the argument, with the
old fool’s curmudgeon’s stock-in-trade – the war story:
Crossing a state highway patrol officer who had seized my client’s tractor-trailer filled with narcotics at the suppression hearing, he testified to something different than he wrote in his report. The wheels turned as I carefully framed the question so he couldn’t weasel out of his hole, and closed the trap. He responded:
Well, I couldn’t put that in the report because the judge wouldn’t like it.
Nailed. I had him. Caught the cop dead in a lie*, and it doesn’t get any better than that.
The cop caught his client with a “tractor-trailer filled with narcotics”, but the important thing for SHG is that he is much, much more clever than the cop.
Lawyers have been besting cops in cross examination on such things for 50 years. And the net result is always the same as in the very war story SHG tells: suppression denied, no opinion, defendant convicted and, you know, off with his head. The fruits of all this? An incarceration rate that would have been unimaginable at the beginning of that 50 year period. A justice system that has become increasingly honesty challenged, and not nearly so clever as it imagines itself to be, because you don’t have to be terribly clever if you can just ignore evidence and argument that gets in your way and do what you want anyhow.
You know what else would have been unimaginable 50 years ago? All this lawyer prattle over search and seizure and suppression motions.
In fact, you could make an argument that the sudden swelling of 4th amendment tripwires for law enforcement in the 1960′s, on the one hand; and the cascade of criminal prosecutions, convictions and incarcerations in the time since, on the other - are related. Causally connected, even. Of course it also just might be that you could make that argument because….it’s valid.
In other words, you could argue that the “due process revolution” of the Warren Court era has been a dismal failure, and that we have a lot of re-thinking to do, and that what is most needed is fresh blood and youthful enthusiasm. In fact, we here at Lawyers on Strike argue exactly that. Sometimes.
But then we’re not self-styled curmudgeons: habitually re-living our glorious failures and faulting the young for not following in our footsteps.
As someone I know says: error recognition is a pre-requisite to error correction.
* I don’t know that that’s an entirely fair summary of the story. Apparently the cop was at least telling the truth on the witness stand when he was under oath, right?
Update: This is a thoughtful response from SHG, although I have to question why, if he has read over here and wants to have a discussion about this or that he doesn’t just do so openly.
Parenthetically, and I assume also in response to this post, SHG notes an appellate opinion from 1992 where he prevailed on a suppression motion. You know, 22 years ago. If he’s using that as proof that suppression motions can be granted then I suppose I can cite a 1992 appellate opinion for the proposition that section 1983 actions in federal court on behalf of state prisoners can be won on summary judgment.
Either claim is wildly misleading, of course.