Legally Speaking: They Said It, I Didn't

John G. Browning Oct. 5, 2010, 10:29am

As much and as often as I've commented on the legal system and legal issues, sometimes there's no substitute for the words straight from the horse's mouth, so to speak.

And because I don't think I could sum up or comment on an issue as succinctly or as entertainingly as the following individuals, here then is a selection from people with their own unique perspectives on law and lawyers:

"One day, I'm going to law school. I think my years in the industry will make me a great lawyer. Porn has helped me there."
Aurora Snow, award-winning adult film actress

"A judge should be an advocate for liberty . . . [My job] as a Supreme Court justice is to make sure the smallest dog can lift its leg against the largest tree."
Justice Richard Sanders of the Washington State Supreme Court, in response to criticisms about his impartiality; Sanders is perhaps best known as the man who once heckled then-Attorney General Michael Mukasey at a Washington, D.C. Federalist Society dinner

"I had a report of one court that had an individual keep coming into court dressed like a clown. Again, that pushes the dignity of the court."
Timothy Fautsko, adviser to the National Center for State Courts

"I've been married 45 years. We've never considered divorce � a few times murder, maybe."
Judge Stephen Aldrich during a hearing on a domestic violence protective order; these and other comments led Minnesota's Board on Judicial Standards to recommend reprimanding him

"It's hearsay, I agree, but it's damn good hearsay, and I want to hear it."
DeMentas v. Estate of Tallas, 764 P.2d 628, 632 (Utah App. 1988), quoting the "rather colorful, if occasionally irreverent," Judge David Dee in this will dispute case

"Defendant will be pleased to discover that the highway is paved and lighted all the way to Galveston, and thanks to the efforts of this Court's predecessor . . . the trip should be free of rustlers, hooligans, or vicious varmints of unsavory kind. Moreover, the speed limit was recently increased to seventy miles per hour on most of the road leading to Galveston, so Defendant should be able to hurtle to justice at lighting speed . . . Defendant will again be pleased to know that regular limousine service is available from Hobby Airport, even to the steps of this humble courthouse, which has got lights, indoor plummin', 'lectric doors, and all sorts of new stuff, almost like them big courthouses back East."
Former U.S. District Judge Samuel Kent, denying an out of state lawyer's motion to transfer venue and breaking all sarcasm records in Smith v. Colonial Penn Ins. Co., 943 F. Supp. 782, 784 (S.D. Tex. 1996).

"The parties are advised to chill."
Justice Alex Kozinski in Mattel Inc. v. MCA Records, Inc., 296 F.3d 894, 908 (9th Cir. 2002).

"Cancer is not a book. It is a cesspool, an open sewer, a pit of putrefaction, a slimy gathering of all that is rotten in the debris of human depravity. And in the center of all this waste and stench, besmearing himself with its foulest defilement, splashes, leaps, cavorts and wallows a bifurcated specimen that responds to the name of Henry Miller."
Justice Musmanno, winning the "tell us how you really feel" award with his dissent in a case about banning the book Tropic of Cancer by Henry Miller in 1966.

"This was my penance for practicing law. I gave one wet goodbye kiss to the legal profession."
Chuck Greenberg, sports attorney and new CEO of the Texas Rangers, following the successful auction of the team. It was estimated that during that one day, with as many as 100 lawyers representing the various factions and interests involved in the bankruptcy auction, as much as $1 million in legal fees was incurred.

"To succeed in other trades, capacity must be shown; in the law, concealment of it will do."
Mark Twain, Following the Equator

"An ignorance so shining and conspicuous as yours � now I have it � go on a jury. That is your place."
Mark Twain

"A jury consists of twelve persons chosen to decide who has the better lawyers."
Robert Frost

"Somebody recently figured out that we have 35 million laws to enforce the Ten Commandments."
Earl Wilson

"If the laws could speak for themselves, they would complain of the lawyers in the first place."
Lord Halifax

"The jury, passing on the prisoner's life,
May in the sworn twelve have a thief or two
Guiltier than him they try."
William Shakespeare, Measure for Measure

"Laws are spider webs through which the big flies pass and the little ones get caught."
Honor� de Balzac

"The panel authorizes police to do not only what invited strangers could, but also uninvited children � in this case crawl under the car to retrieve a ball and tinker with the undercarriage. But there's no limit to what neighborhood kids will do, given half a chance: They'll jump the fence, crawl under the porch, pick fruit from the trees, set fire to the cat and micturate on the azaleas. To say that the police may do on your property what urchins might do spells the end of Fourth Amendment protections for most people's curtilage."
Justice Alex Kozinski, dissenting from his 9th Circuit brethren in a case where the court ruled that police officers who placed a GPS device on the underbed of a suspected drug dealer's car while it was parked outside his home did not violate his constitutional rights. (And yes, I had to look up "micturate" and "curtilage," too.)

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