Heard the one about the lawyer?
A new book by law professor Marc Galanter, Lowering the Bar — Lawyer Jokes and Legal Culture, estimates that there are some 500 lawyer jokes floating around at any one time. Lawyers are portrayed as greedy, deceptive, and are likened to nasties such as sharks and fish. For instance — the oldie — what is the difference between a catfish and a lawyer? One is a scum-sucking, bottom-feeding scavenger. The other is a fish.
Galanter argues that lawyerly jokes stem from an increasing reliance on the law, as well as anxiety about the ‘legalisation’ of society. Particularly in America, where they have plenty of work and much prominence, lawyers become the scapegoats of over-regulation, he says. For instance, so the story goes, there was a small town with just one lawyer, and he was starving for lack of business. Then another lawyer moved to town, and they both prospered.
Jokes told in England or Australia about politicians are adapted in the United States to make fun of lawyers, says Galanter. One example: How do you tell if a lawyer is lying? His lips are moving.
But Folklaw’s favourite? How many lawyer jokes are there? Only two. All the rest are case histories.
Judge rules on fashion
Northern Territory Chief Magistrate Hugh Bradley has complained about the dress standards of female prosecutors in Northern Territory courts. In a letter to the Director of Public Prosecutions, Bradley said prosecutors wearing thongs (presumably on the feet) and exposing large areas of flesh between the bust and the waist did not add to the dignity of the court room. The criticism drew mixed reactions from female and male prosecutors. Some supported Bradley, but others said courtroom dress codes needed to move with the times. Hear, hear. If that means muffin-tops showing in court, so be it.
Double jeopardy for Japanese leftists
Like a teacher who doesn’t like the argument in the essay, last week the Tokyo High Court sent a case back to the Tokyo District Court to re-examine an acquittal, after a 15-year trial, of three men accused of terrorism. They had been charged with firing mortar projectiles at the State Guesthouse during the 1986 Group of Seven summit in Tokyo, as part of a conspiracy with other leftwing ‘extremists’.
The District Court had cleared Taketoshi Suga, 61, Hirofumi Sogame, 62, and Hiroshi Itagaki, 62, in March 2004. The Court ruled there was no evidence to prove their involvement in firing the projectiles.
But High Court judge Taketaka Nakagawa summarily sent the case back to the District Court. Evidence during the initial trial, he opined, “strongly suggested” the trio were involved in making the launching devices. How come the District Court didn’t convict the men?
The three immediately appealed to the Supreme Court. “When I heard that the Court decided to throw out the lower court acquittal, I felt anger so strong it was as though my heart was shaking,” Sogame said. “It is an extremely political and dirty ruling that determines everyone associated with leftwing extremists to be guilty.” Folklaw wonders how the doormat District Court judge felt.
Lawyer gives up risqué habit
BBC news reported that 35 year-old lawyer Simon Hamilton admitted in the UK’s Canterbury Crown Court in April that he took furtive ‘upskirt’ photos of women standing in public places. The amateur photographer even acknowledged having an extensive collection, but he denied that the pictures gave him sexual gratification. Rather, he said, he was merely a habitual collector of things and spent his time cataloguing the photos rather than looking at them. “It was the sort of gratification of a job well done,” he explained, telling the judge that he came from a long family line of collectors. In any case, Hamilton pointed out, his collecting days were over by 2001, at which time he decided to re-enter the practice of law and realised that ‘upskirt’ photography was “no longer ... appropriate.”
Spanked worker wins damages
A Californian jury has awarded US$500,000 ($661,183) to a woman who sued her employer after she was spanked in front of her colleagues.
Janet Orlando, 53, quit Alarm One Inc, a home security company in Fresno, California, in 2004, saying she couldn’t bear the humiliation of what the company called “camaraderie building exercises”.
That included, apparently, being poked fun at, being forced to eat baby food and wear nappies, and getting spanked on the buttocks with the pole of a rival company’s yard sign, court documents showed. No sense of camaraderie, obviously.
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