Laughter is the Best Medicine

Humor from on High | U.S. Supreme Court Musings

Lawyers engaged in litigation must keep up
with appellate decisions related to their practice area. At times this can be a real challenge to staying
awake. So, it is gratifying when some jurists salt
their opinions with observations that can make us smile … and keep our attention. Here are a couple examples:
A convicted murderer’s lawyer argued to the Supreme Court that his client’s conviction
should be overturned because four eyewitnesses all clearly saw his face but didn’t agree
on his exact height and build. Justice Scalia, known as the “funniest justice,”
pointed out: “The desperate implausibility of the theory
that petitioner put before the jury must be kept firmly in mind. … To assert that unhesitant and categorical
identification by four witnesses who viewed the killer, close-up and with the sun high
in the sky, would not eliminate reasonable doubt if it were based only on facial characteristics,
and not on height and build, is quite simply absurd. Facial features are the primary means by which
human beings recognize one another. That is why … bank robbers wear stockings
over their faces instead of floor-length capes over their shoulders; it is why the Lone Ranger
wears a mask instead of a poncho; and it is why a criminal defense lawyer who seeks to
destroy an identifying witness by asking ‘You admit that you saw only the killer’s face?’
will be laughed out of the courtroom.” Justice Scalia was not the only Supreme Court
wag. Justice Sandra Day O’Connor could also turn
a phrase. Her clarity of thought allowed her to state
the obvious: “The issue presented in this case is whether
a resolution banning all ‘First Amendment activities’ at Los Angeles International Airport
(LAX) violates the First Amendment.” It didn’t take long for the Supreme Court
to unanimously find that the ban did in fact violate the First Amendment. I must admit that sometimes Hackard Law’s
litigation team fights trust, estate and elder financial abuse cases on behalf of wronged
beneficiaries where we must oppose defense arguments we find to be as silly as the eye-witnesses
case or as obvious as the First Amendment case. That said, what seems obvious to some of the
parties may not be as obvious to their opponents. That’s when we take action for our clients. If you’d like to talk to us about your estate,
trust or elder financial abuse case, call us at Hackard Law: 916-313-3030. We’ll be glad to listen to your story and
see how best to help you. Thank you.

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