Saturday, February 7, 2015
“We are all honourable men here, we do not have to give each other assurances as if we were lawyers.”
Mario Puzo from The Godfather
“Politicians were mostly people who'd had too little morals and ethics to stay lawyers.”
George RR Martin
“Has he come armed, then?” she asked anxiously. “Has he brought a pistol or a sword?”
Ian shook his head, his dark hair lifting wildly in the wind.
“Oh, no, Mam!” he said. “It’s worse. He’s brought a lawyer!”
Diane Gabaldon from the Voyager
“Divorce lawyers stoke anger and fear in their clients, knowing that as long as the conflicts remain unresolved the revenue stream will keep flowing.”
Craig Ferguson from American on purpose
“When a conman hires a lawyer then he has met his match”
“A nonhuman animal had better have a good lawyer. In 1508, Bartholomé Chassenée earned fame and fortune for his eloquent representation of the rats of his French province. These rats had been charged with destroying the barley crop and also with ignoring the court order to appear and defend themselves. Bartholomé Chassenée argued successfully that the rats hadn't come because the court had failed to provide reasonable protection from the village cats along the route.”
Karen Joy Fowler
“Then Mr. Underwood's meaning became clear: Atticus had used every tool available to free men to save Tom Robinson, but in the secret courts of men's hearts Atticus had no case.”
Harper Lee from To Kill A Mockingbird
“This is an aspect of crime stories I never fully appreciated until I became one: it is so ruinously expensive to mount a defence that, innocent or guilty, the accusation is itself a devastating punishment. Every defendant pays a price.”
Wednesday, February 4, 2015
To the Emperor Trajan
It is my custom to refer all my difficulties to you, sir, for no one is better able to resolve my doubts and inform my ignorance.
I have never been present at an examination of Christians. Consequently, I do not know the nature or the extent of the punishments usually meted out to them, nor the grounds for starting an investigation and how far it should be pressed. Nor am I at all sure whether any distinction should be made between them on the grounds of age, or if young people and adults should be treated alike; whether a pardon ought to be granted to anyone retracting his beliefs, or if he has once professed Christianity, he shall gain nothing by renouncing it; and whether it is the mere name of Christian which is punishable, even if innocent of crime, or rather the crimes associated with the name.
For the moment this is the line I have taken with all persons brought before me on the charge of being Christians. I have asked them in person if they are Christians, and if they admit it, I repeat the question a second and a third time, with a warning of the punishment awaiting them. If they persist, I order them to be led away for execution; for whatever the nature of their admission, I am convinced that their stubbornness and unshakable obstinacy ought not to go unpunished.
Now that I have begun to deal with this problem, as so often happens, the charges are becoming more widespread and increasing in variety. An anonymous pamphlet has been circulated which contains the names of a number of accused persons. Among these I felt that I should dismiss any who denied that they were or ever had been Christians when they had repeated after me a formula of invocation to the gods and had made offerings of wine and incense to your statue (which I had ordered to be brought into court for this purpose along with the images of the gods), and furthermore had reviled the name of Christ—none of which things, I understand, any genuine Christian can be induced to do.
Others, whose names were given to me by an informer, first admitted the charge and then denied it; they said that they had ceased to be Christians two or more years previously, and some of them even twenty years ago. They all did reverence to your statue and the images of the gods in the same way as the others, and reviled the name of Christ. They also declared that the sum total of their guilt or error amounted to no more than this: they had met regularly before dawn on a fixed day to chant verses alternately among themselves in honor of Christ as if to a god, and also to bind themselves by oath, not for any criminal purpose, but to abstain from theft, robbery and adultery, to commit no breach of trust and not to deny a deposit when called on to restore it. After this ceremony it had been their custom to disperse and reassemble later to take food of an ordinary, harmless kind; but they had in fact given up this practice since my edict, issued on your instructions, which banned all political societies. This made me decide that it was all the more necessary to extract the truth by torture from two slave-women, whom they call deaconesses. I found nothing but a degenerate sort of cult carried to extravagant lengths.
I have therefore postponed any further examination and hastened to consult you. The question seems to me worthy of your consideration, especially in view of the number of persons endangered; for a great many individuals of every age and class, both men and women, are being brought to trial, and this is likely to continue. It is not only the towns, but villages and rural districts too which are infected through contact with this wretched cult. I think though that it is still possible for it to be checked and directed to better ends, for there is no doubt that people have begun to throng the temples which had been almost entirely deserted for a long time; the sacred rites which had been allowed to lapse are being performed again, and flesh of sacrificial victims is on sale everywhere, though up till recently scarcely anyone could be found to buy it. It is easy to infer from this that a great many people could be reformed if they were given an opportunity to repent.
Pliny The Younger
Roman Governor Of Bithynia ( Turkey today)
Conor Mc Gregor’s insulting behaviour and the belting of his opponents is something Irish sports people have indulged in.
Anyone who has to lower themselves as he does will get their comeuppance sooner rather than later. It will be the first time in my life to clap my hands at the beating of a fellow Irishman.
If he wants to leave the safety of his UFC cage and come up to the hills of Donegal, he will meet hardy bucks who don't wear tight jocks or wax their chests. They will send him home in bandages and sticky plasters after a scrap at the nearest crossroads.
I cannot stand those that resemble the back of a donkey, act act like one letting off steam when it eats too much lush grass, shouting in such a derogatory manner fashion about their opponent’s looks or humble origins.
It is plain bad manners and should not be tolerated.
Gort an Choirce
Dun Na nGall (Donegal)
Why literary heavyweight Harper Lee stayed silent for so many years
Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch in a scene from the film version of ‘To Kill A Mocking Bird’.
The professional lives of most novelists closely resemble each other. They write a novel; it is published; they embark on a round of publicity. They appear at literary festivals and at signings in bookshops, with the aim of signing as much stock as possible.
Through it all, the novelist attempts to remain amusing, affable and patient. Three years later, he will publish another novel, and the whole experience repeats itself.
The extraordinary career - or perhaps non-career - of Harper Lee bears witness to a quite different way of conducting a writing life. Up until yesterday's announcement we were aware that she had written just one novel, an immediate classic and perhaps the best-selling novel of the 20th century, 'To Kill a Mockingbird'.
Since its publication in 1960, Lee has published no other book. A second novel, 'The Long Goodbye', apparently came to an end on the day her agent, JP Lippincott, expressed an interest in her first. "Her pen froze," he said.
'To Kill a Mockingbird' is a great novel and was quickly made into a great film. But then, everything stopped for Lee's writing.
She spoke in an early Sixties interview, the last she ever gave, of wanting "to leave some record of small-town, middle-class Southern life", apparently thinking of the novels she wanted to write in future.
What stays in the memory of 'To Kill a Mockingbird' are the grand coups - Scout unknowingly deflecting a lynching, or the great moment when the Reverend Sykes, after the verdict, says to Scout: "Miss Jean Louise, stand up: your father's passing."
But the rich texture of the novel comes from its loving delineation of the relationships and tensions in a small town. That is the direction she would have gone in, and what we have lost in her silence.
The novelist of social texture, of the quiet relationships between people, is perhaps one peculiarly vulnerable to the impact of fame. A novelist who had become a celebrity would find it almost impossible to pursue their task of listening, of modest disappearance into the background, of observation.
The cynic would say that Harper Lee, with a novel which still sells millions every year, over half a century after its publication, hardly needed to go on writing anyway. Would she have wanted her career to work out like this? But writing is not like hedge-fund trading. The author who voluntarily retires from writing, after having made a pile, is a rare creature.
Lee has succeeded in protecting herself over the last half-century, and living a life which is of her choosing. In a rare statement recently, a letter to Oprah Winfrey's magazine, she suggested how out-of-touch with modern life she has become: "In an abundant society where people have laptops, cellphones, iPods and minds like empty rooms, I still plod along with books." That detachment is, clearly, necessary to her.
Tuesday, February 3, 2015
Col James J Childs