The Corner

Law and Logic

Roger and Andy:

Thanks for those. One reason that reader e-mail got my attention was that I am just, in my James Gould Cozzens-a-thon, finishing up The Just and the Unjust, which centers, in very well-researched detail, on a trial in a small-county criminal court. The book is full of snippets of legal lore and wisdom — though, since this is a novelist we’re talking about, it’s always possible he made some of them up.

Sample (p.330):

Abner remembered a passage his father was fond of quoting from a life of Chief Justice Parsons, or someone like that, about the plaintiff who brought action against a neighbor for borrowing and breaking a cooking pot. Advice of counsel was that the defendant should plead that he never borrowed the pot; and that he used it carefully and returned it whole; also, that the pot was broken and useless when he borrowed it; also, that he borrowed the pot from someone not the plaintiff; also, that the pot in question was defendant’s own pot; also, that plaintiff never owned a pot, cooking or other; also …

John Derbyshire — Mr. Derbyshire is a former contributing editor of National Review.

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