Saturday, November 10, 2012


The man is, after all, a human being.

When a man and a woman are in constant contact with each other, chemistry often takes over. Especially if one of them is exceptionally physically attractive. The human animal is in us all. The sex drive was born with Adam. Amazingly, adultery, in many states, is still a crime, though criminal prosecutions are rare.

Adultery is and should remain grounds for divorce--but without being a crime. It is a clear violation of the contractual obligation between a married couple and rather obvious evidence of a loss of intimacy and fidelity. It, however, occurs too frequently in our society to be swept under the rug of  non-recognition. It is a primal instinct but, inconsistently, carries with it the stigma of the Scarlet Letter. Its frequency brings into play its allure and consequences.

My personal belief is that if you are in love with your spouse, you should remain faithful regardless of the temptations that will surely come your way.

During my 42 years of marriage, trying criminal cases nationwide, many opportunities presented themselves, but I, almost fanatically and religiously, never cheated on my wife. Never. Not even a kiss, a flirtation of any kind--I indulged in none of that, for I strictly adhered to the loyalty of fidelity. I deemed it to be the most important foundation of my marriage, a violation of which, by either partner, would forever and irreparably shatter the union. This was a ground rule in which I was emotionally vested--no exceptions allowed. It was an obsession with me.

But now, looking back, I realize that, although I was not wrong, I was very, very naive. Still am.

When two people find themselves in almost daily contact with each other, it frequently happens that a physical attraction evolves. The question thus posed is do you give into this desire, even once?

I now understand that a person can indulge in extramarital sex and simply walk away from it without any pains of conscience. I can't but others can.

Others find themselves so infatuated with the fire of new sex, the intoxocation with the ilicity of it, that they participate in an affair, as opposed to a one-night-stand (for fidelity purposes, I make no distinction). This may involve the consideration of divorce and remarriage. Blame it on a desire for what was once but no longer is, or the actual blooming of true love, or what ever---but it is a very serious matter with much potential for emotional collateral damage.

 I am not that type of person. Even though I might accept the fact that my spouse may have erred in this regard, without the involvment of love and unaccompanied by any lessoning of love for me--the marriage, for me, is over. Kaput. And all the king's horses and all the king's men couldn't put Humpty Dumpty back together again. But again, that's who I am. I do not impose this personal standard of conduct on others, in a judgemental way. To each his own, for I readilly admit to being obsessive-compulsive in this regard. I'll stay with my own set of rules, thank you very much, yet my astonishment at those who can indulge, walk away and never look back will never diminish. I can understand their outlook on all of this---but it ain't for me. My spouse cheats just one time, with no romance or love involved, and it's divorce time. I'm just not built thst way.

Which brings us back to General Petraeus. He has resigned as head of the CIA because of an extramarital affair he had with his biographer. She is a strikingly beatiful and sexy woman. It is not difficult to understand his attraction to her in the circumstance of long hours working together. His immediate physical appearance does not, at first glance, match hers, but power is an aphrodesiac and he is a most powerful man. It is not difficult to explain the how and why of the mutual attraction.

The General, gallantly, did not name his paramour, although the press revealed her identity, almost instantaneously. He said that he loved his wife of 37 years, and I'm sure he does. Whether he is in love with her is another question altogether.

He misstepped and is accepting the consequences. His infidelity should, in no way, tarnish his iconic status as a hero and patriot. He has not become "disgraced". His type of discretion is too common. It transcends all walks of life. Me and my fanaticism does not, I suggest, a majority view make.

The media shall be inundated with all sorts of conspiracy and covert theories supposedly underlining the "real" circumstances attending the General's resignation. Don't buy it.

The bottom line: he became infatuated with a very attractive woman and succombed. He is paying the price.

The price does not embrace his heroic service to his country. We should have an army of Petraeuses.

Lay off the guy.

If I can, my puritanical views notwithstanding, so can you

All the same, if I were married to the him, I'd walk away and burn the bridge.

But, that's just me.

At least I practice what I preach, at the cost perhaps, of being a romantic fool.


It was Romney's for the taking but he blew it. Obama's weak spot was the economy. He could not achieve an upturn because the Big Boys wouldn't let him. I'm talking about the movers and shakers who control the money flow and cause stock market fluctuations within a 24 hour period. They sat on their cash (except for political shadowed donations) and froze the economy, the job seekers be damned. If Romney had won, the market would have spiked and euphoria would have permeated public opinion. And that would have been a good thing. So, why did Romney lose?

Harken back to 2011, when Obama and Speaker John Boehner attempted to effectuate a grand bargain which would alleviate the debt ceiling crisis and avoid plummeting over the fiscal cliff. Many Democrats were furious with the President, alleging that he had given away too much. Notwithstanding     the failure to close the deal, Obama demonstrated that he is not, by any means, an ultra liberal. He is, first and foremost, a pragmatist. He "gets" the big picture and is prepared to embrace the predicate of politics, to wit, the necessity to compromise. This was an anathema to the radical right wing of the Republican party, a lunatic fringe calling itself the Tea Party.

The notion of reason was scorned and abandoned. These true believers were willing to let the country sink rather than compromise on anything. They were and are the most unreasonable of men. They fashion themselves as patriots but are, instead, lunatics. But, they controlled the House of Representatives and, clinging to their self-annointed mandate, wouldn't yield an inch.

They closely monitored the Republican nomination process and were ready to crucify any candidate who swerved off their course. Romney is not one of them, but was afraid to take any position which might cause alienation. So, he embraced their principles, secured their backing and won the nomination. The general campaign was, however, a different scenario.

Romney, correctly realizing that Tea Party tenets did not represent the electorate majority, held himself out to be a moderate Republican. But he was trapped by his Tea Party utterances during the nomination fight. Inconsistencies sprang up everywhere, providing the Democrats with a plethora of destructive ammunition. Romney responded by "modifying" his stances, effectuating the indelible brand of "flip-flopper."

Further, his positions on womens' rights turned them into ferocious adversaries. His immigration policies cost him the Hispanic and Latino vote. His failure to release more than 2 years of tax returns fed the notion that he was an arrogant rich/fat cat completely out of touch with the middle class. This list of missteps is endless. Blame poor advice or personal misjudgment, he turned off the majority of American voters. This type of political blundering does not bode well for an aspiring President.

Romney is not a demon. He is a good man who failed to eradicate the notion that he is a danger to the middle class. Had he been elected, he would have allocated to the states the supervision and control of those affairs of life in which the federal government should be the primary mover. Save for the economy, he would have led us down some very precarious paths.

When Obama uses the tools of compromise and reason to reach legislative agreements with Republicans--and he will--the economy will favorably respond, accordingly.

The super-rich lost but, worry not, they shall survive. Despite all the money at their disposal, they have presumably learned that elections can't be bought.

The seeds of the Romney failure were sown in Tea Party fields.

History will show Obama to have been a most able president.

The very near future will show that the better man won.

'Tis a good thing that has happened.

Romney is President of White Male America. He wooed them. He won them. And lost the election.

(for cp)

Tuesday, October 23, 2012


Alas, but sometimes, on more than one occasion, you find yourself in the shithouse of life, face down.

To what extent you have contributed to the mess at hand is immaterial, for it is what it is. Panic overwhelms you and quickly spawns depression, anger and despair. Your judgement becomes seriously impaired and the danger of your desperation is the obsesive compulsion to act impulsively and erroneously. That's when things can easily veer out of control. So, how do you deal with such a predicament?

 First, realize that your decision making process is off the track. You will act at your peril. Accordingly, stop the rush to immediately resolve things. Shut down that most complicated of all computors: your brain. Watch a movie, read a book, surf the Internet--do anything that will allow you to mentally and emotionally shift into neutral and begin to re-fuel.

Second, understand that there is nothing more you can do, at this moment. Adopt a fatalistic attitude: what will be, will be. Stop swimming against the tide. You've hit rock bottom. Now, fall further through the floor. Invite fate to take over. Turn things off and get a good night's sleep.

You will awaken into a relative state of calm. The anxiety is diminished or gone because you are not allowing yourself to care anymore. You ask yourself,"Have I done everything I can to maximize my chances of pulling out of this?" If your answer is "yes", you shower, put clothes on your body, eat something and do what you have to do on that particular day in your life. In other words, you function, as best you can.

And, someway, somehow, your problem will alleviate or be resolved.

All because you fought off the demons of desperation.

All because you rebooted your soul.

All because you let you heal you.

All because you climbed aboard an ocean's wave and simply let it take you.

Friday, October 5, 2012


I come with no claim of political expertise, for I don't have it. I'm just a citizen offering my opinion on the first Obama-Romney debate.
The bottom line of all that I hear and read is that the President "choked." It was a moment of great stress and it is claimed that he was bested by Governor Romney. He failed to seize the night; he missed rebutting false or misleading statements; he looked befuddled---and so on, and so on. To which I ask,"So what!"

What are we to draw from this lackluster performance?

"If he can't stand up to Romney, he can't stand up to foreign Heads of State."

"Romney is more intelligent and smarter (there is a difference) and, therefore, more fit to be president."

"Denver's "mile high" altitude threw Obama off-stride. He should have spent more pre-debate time in that city."

"He swung and missed on pitches lobbed right over the plate."...........and so on, and so on.

Perhaps Romney was better prepped with clever zingers successfully designed to throw Obama off balance. But again, who cares? Their opposing positions on social issues remain constant. Their core values are still aligned with different social and economic groups. If voters can be persuaded to switch their vote on the basis of who "won" the damn thing, we are in a sorry mess.

The molds have hardened for each man. They have substantially different outlooks on almost everything, and they ain't gonna change.

Consider the contest (to use a lawyerly phrase) on its merits. Go for substance, not form. Maybe, just maybe, Romney turns out to be the better debater. That's no connecting link to who's got the righter stuff.

Stay focused on the most important issue. They both are patriotic Americans with littlle or no difference in foreign policy. It's their contrasting positions on social and economic issues which confront the nation's decision making process.

And this has nothing to do with who is the better debater.

In almost every closing argument, I would implore the jurors to keep their eyes on the ball.

Same thing here.

Thursday, August 16, 2012


I was particularly tired that night as I got into bed. The usual aches and pains that are necessarily included in the home stretch of life. I welcomed sleep which came quickly.

I was being gently awakened. The lightest of touches on my shoulder. I turned and looked up. The person was sitting beside me and his face was extraordinarily benevolent and friendly. His voice was gentle but extremely authoritative.

"It's alright, don't be frightened, it's alright."

I was unable to ascertain specific facial features except to make note that he appeared very, very kind.

"I've got what I think you'll look upon as good news. I'm here to offer you a second chance."

I wasn't at all afraid, so reassuring and good was his demeanor.

"I don't understand. Please excuse me but I don't understand you."

"Of course. Let me explain. You've been down on yourself lately, reliving old baggage, over and over. You're a bit worn down and out, exhausting your energy in trying to constantly refuel and stay on high ground." He was smiling now.

"How did you know?" I stammered. The smile became a laugh. Maybe I had insulted him.

"I know all about you. That's why I'm here, don't you see?"
I didn't answer, lest I offend.

"I've got a proposition for you. Listen to it carefully."
I was very awake in a very deep sleep.

"If you wish, you can awaken in the morning and be young again, in the prime of life. What's more, you'll be at the top of your chosen game. Everyone will know who you are and will be vying for your favor. You'll enjoy the best of everything. The world will be your oyster."

I was stunned. "Why me?"

"Because it's your turn."

"Oh, my God," I exclaimed, cringing at the liberty I had taken. "Yes, yes, I wish. I want it! I'll be able to benefit from my mistakes, avoid the pitfalls, share my happiness with those close to me and squelch the naysayers."

He paused. "Not exactly, I'm afraid. You see, you'll be someone else."

I let those words sink in. And then I got it, the full meaning of what he was saying.

"I would die in my sleep."

"As far as the You as we know You now, yes. But it won't be Your end."

I believe I kept blinking my eyes, struggling to comprehend it all. Oh, the glory of a second chance at  life! But, what of my loved ones? Come sunrise, they would be mourning me and I would be unable to tell them no need. I would be unable to communicate with them at all. The selfish cruelty of it all. I found myself involved in the ultimate weighing process. My face cried out to him for help. But, he said no more. He had spelled it all out and now it was up to me.

And then he began to slowly drift away.

He had read my thought process to the fullest.

He knew my conclusion and wasn't at all angry or even disappointed.

I had decided to wake up as me.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012


As we all pray for a cure for cancer, here's another thing to hope for:  An alternative to barbaric chemotherapy which ravages the body with horrific side effects. And will somebody rationalize the apparent unwillingness of the medical profession to administer pot or THC as an aid to combat this injection of poison. If ever a situation cries out for getting high, this is it. In California, with an easily obtainable prescription, one can shop at a pot store and browse from many different available species. It is the most effective way of reducing/eliminating the side effects of chemo. SO WHY ISN'T IT PUT TO THIS USE?


I submit to you the scale-tipper in the election-selection decision: The fact that the wealth class shall vote for Romney is, at least, understandable. If you have more, it's human nature to want to keep/enlarge it. President Obama has already proven his allegiance to the middle and lower income classes. Let's be realistic. Mitt Romney is not an evil man. He has proven skills which he shall, without reservation, dedicate to the his version of the betterment of America. The sky will not fall if he is elected, looking at him personally. In full disclosure, he's not my choice but we've survived with worse. The cause for great concern is this: The economy is in bad shape. Don't be naive. It is  not going to miraculously recover by November. We're in for a long haul. It's not the President's fault, but it's his political Achilles Heel. In this climate, financially suffering people become susceptible to the rantings of demagogues. History shows this. Neither Democrats nor moderate Republicans are embraced by this catagory. There is, however, a faction out there which has already infected our Congress and whch simply won't go away. They are zealots to the extreme and it's either their way or the highway. They are cult-like in their philosophy, dangerous and must be taken seriously. They are blind to practical common sense and ruthless to those within their gunsights. They abhor the protection of the federal government from which they want "to take the country back." They believe that reason and compromise are dirty words. Will they succeed in "playing" the floundering economy card as a means of capturing the votes of those who are monetarily disadvantaged? Pray that they don't. The only preventive means available to escape from the clutches of the Tea Party is to vote Democratic.


The Mob should again run Vegas. Those were the days! Really big stars in the main rooms while the lounges featured A-list known-names entertainers. Frequent visitors always received a "comp", you had to wear at least a sports jacket to a showtime dinner and everybody was happy. The theory behind this form of management was that if the main room or the lounge lost money, that was O.K. The patrons would be put into a good mood and this led directly to the casino which always made loot. When Howard Hughes and the corporate mentality took over, each operation had to make money on its own. The restaurants, the coffee shops, the lounges, the main rooms and even the hotel itself was not exempt. They all had to individually show a profit or heads would roll. Contracts were torn up without regard to legal consequences because, practically speaking, there weren't any. You gonna sue a casino corporation in Vegas? You won't find a lawyer. So the entire atmosphere changed. No more lounge acts. No more freely-issued comps. Every employee is constantly expecting to get fired. There is no dress code save for the requirement that you can't walk around naked. You think The Boys could be cold-hearted? Try pissing-off the Suits. Let whatever is left of the Mob come back in.


More Random Harvests whenever.
As Mrs. Cassidy said to Mr. Cassidy, let's hop-a-long.

Saturday, July 7, 2012


She punched me right in the mouth, followed by an uppercut to the jaw and a kick in the balls. It was at that moment that I realized I had fallen in love.

I was young and naive and never saw it coming. A judo chop to the back of my neck. My sexual appetite was unleashed and I became obsessed with her. Everything she did intensified my desire. When she tied me to a chair and whipped my thighs, I asked her to marry me between lashes.

She was constantly showering me with affection in the shower. I must confess that flushing my eyes with WD-40 really turned me on. When she would waterboard me in the tub, I thought I would burst with lust. For our first anniversary, she inserted bamboo shoots under my fingernails and I knew I had met my soulmate.

She understood that love required consistent reinforcement, thus always surprising me with tokens of passion. Like the time she made me go through the whole day with melted Crisco in my crotch. Or flaunting her sumptuous breasts in my face after feeding me saltpeter for breakfast. Or insisting on going naked to dinner parties. Or making me wear a dress to work.

It was vital to perpetuate the perception that she had married a stud, thus the commissioning of Ralph Lauren to design tailor-made iron jockey shorts that sort-of fit me like a glove. When we would make love, she would pour ice water on my genitals immediately prior to my imminent orgasm.

We celebrated our twentieth anniversary with a ferocious night of love- making. She planned it to perfection by forcing me, at gunpoint, to assume a position wherein my arms and legs were tied to the bedpost. She broke my back and giggled for hours.

She just returned from shopping at Home Depot, having purchased a generator, electrical wires, a bucket and a sponge. Is it any wonder that I love her so?

Wednesday, July 4, 2012


A German court has just ruled that circumcision constitutes "bodily harm" and it cannot be performed until the lad is "old enough" to understand and consent. Mohels, by the hundreds, are retaining bankruptcy attorneys.

In the Jewish religion, the male child is circumcised eight days after birth. I've attended a few and found it to be a barbaric ritual. The child screams in pain while the adults wait to holler "mazel tov" and dig into a sumptuous feast. It's a joyous occasion for family and friends, but not for the little guy.
I'd dive for the booze, pretending it to be psychiatrically necessary to cope with the sounds of pain. In those days, any reason was valid. "Into the mouth and over the gums, watch out stomach, here it comes."

The only recollection I have of my own Bris is the smiling face of the Mohel as he commenced with the words, "It won't be long now."

I'm still searching for the guy to effectuate payback.

Friday, June 29, 2012


Please see my post of 4/1/12, "MY TAKE ON THE HEALTH CARE LAW". It coincides with SCOTUS in its historic decision on Obamacare. Take heart, you sinners. Every once in awhile, you get it right.

Who's the hero? Chief Justice John Roberts. Known for his conservative bent, he stood tall and did what what he believed was the right thing to do. He wrote the opinion, with which four liberal justices concurred. Giant judicial cojones. The Solicitor General had made scant mention of Congress' taxing power in his argument before the Court, but the Chief Justice turned to the four liberals and said, "follow me for I shall lead the way." And they did.

Every once in a while, a Judge, regardless of position in the judicial hierarchy, finds himself faced with a situation which beckons his conscience, the strict construction of a statute, notwithstanding.

In a jury waived trial before me, a nineteen year old woman was charged with illegal possession of a handgun. She faced a mandatory minimum of eighteen months if convicted. She had no prior record.The evidence established the following facts: She was on a date with a rogue on whom there were several outstanding warrants. A cop spotted the guy (no stranger to law enforcement) and ran towards him, intending to make an arrest. The man broke into a trot, the woman running alongside. They turned into an alley, whereupon he pulled a gun from his pocket, handed it to the woman, saying, "hurry, put this in your purse." She did. The cop saw this move, arrested the man, searched the woman's purse and retrieved the gun. Thus, the charge on trial.

Had the woman technically violated the statute? Of course. Was it the legislative intent to embrace this type of conduct when it promulgated eighteen months in the can? Not by my standard of right and wrong---not to mention fairness. I found the woman not guilty.  I did, what to me, was the right thing. The prosecutor winked ever so slightly. He knew me, and was neither surprised nor perturbed.

Strangely enough, Roberts made no reference to my case in his written opinion, but he no doubt had it in mind. (be cool, man, I'm kidding.)

I salute his courage as he forged his place in history. Confirmation of his judicial integrity was to be found in Scalia's facial expression as the justices filed into the courtroom. His buttocks had been flogged.

Justice! In the United States Supreme Court!

What'll they think of next?

Tuesday, June 26, 2012


Today, I watched two interviews of Rielle Hunter on two national networks. A third is scheduled for tonight.
Ms. Hunter, as I'm sure most of you know, was (is?) the mistress of former Senator John Edwards who fathered their out-of-wedlock love child. Edwards avoided conviction on a very questionable federal indictment and Hunter has just published a juicy, detailed account of their affair from beginning to end, sparing nothing and nobody. This includes Edward's late wife who was battling cancer while the fling was flourishing. Edwards caused large sums of money to be spent for the purpose of attempting to conceal the entire sordid mess from the public at a time when he was running for president of the United States. If you wrote this in script form for a movie, you'd be involuntarily committed. In the pull-no-punches tome, Hunter keeps the gloves off when making extremely negative references to the late Mrs. Edwards. Her book is a bomb-tosser.

The interviewers were obviously loaded for bear and eager to effectuate a public crucifixion of this demon from hell. But, a funny thing happened in the midst of the forum. They didn't lay a glove on Hunter. She handled every question without once losing her composure. She remained cool, calm and collected. Even though it involved an admission of adultery and other shunned behavior, she told the truth as she believed it to be.   Impregnable armor.

Make no mistake, she is one tough cookie. And she is smart. She couldn't be pushed around and when asked the "why" questions, she didn't duck. She never flinched.

I know what I did was wrong.
I wrote the book because I'm tired of hiding and, yes, I'll use the proceeds to stay afloat.
I still love him but we've agreed to no longer be together even though I believe he still loves me.
Things like this happen in life. People take wrong turns.

And I found myself struck by her courage and candor.  To segregate all adulterers would require the territorial takeover of another planet. Go back to the Garden of Eden to find the first sin.

Being a Judge by profession taught me to tread carefully where human directions were at stake. And now, as I round the stretch of life, I tend to keep my guns holstered.

Have I made mistakes? Hah! (If they asked me) I could write a book. I look with great severity upon people who pose a threat to society. The non-violent transgressors are a different story.

If an individual screws up his/her life, many problems must be dealt with. Impropriety brings its own set of consequences. However, a societal mob of condemnation is not my cup of tea.

The conduct of Rielle Hunter did me nor mine no harm. I'll take a pass on joining any hate club. I have never been a believer in "scarlet letters" and I am not a fan of first stone throwers. I neither condone nor condemn her behavior. It's simply none of my business.

Ms. Hunter appears to be a loving and devoted mother. If she finds happiness, I shall experience no frustration.

Who knows, the two lovers may yet reunite.

Sex and love go together like a horse and carriage.

It's what makes the world go 'round.

'Tis a many splendored thing.

Sunday, May 20, 2012


Final arguments in a murder- one trial. My opponent was an experienced prosecutor. Nothing flashy--more of a professorial type--but steady-as-she-goes, covering all the bases. He wouldn't lose a case, you'd have to beat him. But fair and square all the way.

I was fully prepared for my closing. I had crafted it for maximum dramatic impact. All the important defense points were carefully arranged, like a Nelson Riddle orchestration for Frank Sinatra. I had gone over it again and again before my hotel room wall audience, tweaking and polishing until my personal standard had been satisfied. And the homework paid off. I had the jury in the palm of my hand, and my last line was accompanied by me standing behind my client's chair with my hands clutching his shoulders. A pause in that position, attended by deafening silence in the courtroom, finally punctuated by a solemn and sincere "Thank you." Five seconds passed (I had been on my feet for ninety minutes), and then the judge called a brief recess. The jury and the SRO spectators filed out of the courtroom with nary a word being uttered. My adrenalin was at the max. I wasn't emotionally spent, but rather high, with the uplift that only a grand-slam closing argument can provide.

The District Attorney used a blackboard and a pointer to make his case. All very tutorial and mechanical. Almost boring when compared to my presentation. I felt very confident.

And then, something, innocuous at the time, happened. The judge glanced at the clock. which read 3:30pm, and recessed until the following morning. That evening proved to be quite restless and foreboding. Something began to gnaw at me. My euphoria at having put my counterpart away in closing argument slowly faded. The jury, by virtue of the mid-afternoon recess, had been given time to think analytically. The endurance of the spell I had woven with my dynamic presentation was being severely tested. The methodical approach of the D.A. might be gaining strength. If jury deliberations had begun immediately after final arguments, there wouldn't have been enough time for this to happen. There was nothing I could do about it, but my apprehension steadily grew.

The next day, after seven hours of deliberation, the jury found my client guilty. My magic had worn off during the overnight hiatus. That experience is forefront in my mind as I apply it to the John Edwards trial.

Abbe Lowell was brilliant in his summation. The jury must have been mightily impressed by his sincere passion and eloquence. I'm sure, if he had his druthers, he would have had the jury continue their deliberation straight through the weekend, without a two day interruption. That way, the momentum of his eloquence would have had the maximum chance of persevering and carrying the day. This is not to say that this may still prove to be the case, but from a defense point of view, it was desirable to have no break in the chain of events. Less chance of Lowell magic dissipation.

I may be making too much of this circumstance. I hope I am. It's just that attorney Lowell nailed it so perfectly when describing his client as a sinner but not a felon. I wish him luck, my intuition notwithstanding.

You can take a lawyer out of the practice of criminal defense law, but you can't take criminal defense law out of the lawyer.

It's the nature of the work.

Friday, May 18, 2012


From what I read and hear, defense counsel's closing argument of yesterday was nothing short of brilliant. Abbe Lowell covered his face in his hands as he concluded an emotional plea on behalf of John Edwards.  He acknowledged his sins, for which he will serve a life sentence of shame, but denied the commission of any crime, negating any basis for conviction and incarceration. Sin, yes. Crime, no. Some jurors were reportedly nodding in agreement as he explained, in detail, why no statute had been violated. I know where he was, as he stood before the jury, speaking from his heart, divesting himself of the pent-up feelings which build throughout the trial. It is that moment of truth which serves as the reward for being a dedicated criminal defense attorney. He was speaking from his soul, and oh, what a payoff for hard work that is.

I have taken issue with his decision to not call his client to the stand, but his basis for this decision was surely grounded on facts to which I was not privy. But, we are members of the same fraternity, us a-little-bit-screwy criminal trial lawyers, the guys who didn't get the message and who emotionally immerse themselves into the frequently unpopular task of defending people accused of crime. It's the most invigorating aspect of being an attorney, enabling the unique opportunity of experiencing its special "juice".  The highs are exquisite. The lows can be devastating. It takes its toll, this ultimate emotional experience, but that's the why of it all.

I salute Mr. Lowell for his uncomprimising devotion to his task at hand. He has made me feel proud of my chosen profession. He was obviously fully prepared and gave it his all. He can honestly say that he did the best he could and that, my friends, covers the waterfront.

I pray, for a host of reasons, that he proves my suggested trial strategy wrong.

My adrenalin flows vicariously.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012


See my posts of 4/15, 5/2 and 5/10 for the proper context of today's opinion.

The defense has rested its case without calling mistress Rielle, daughter Cate or Edwards himself. The prosecution's case was presented in three weeks. The defense took only two days. Some trial observers are concluding that this will send a message to the jury of a profound weakness in the government's case, while others point out the risk involved in subjecting Edwards to cross-examination. Not having been in the courtroom, I only know what I've read in the papers. This disclaimer notwithstanding, I opine that a fatal mistake has been made.

Although Edwards' defense is rather technical, compared to the salacious prosecutorial evidence, it nevertheless rests on plain- talk grounds: he did not knowingly violate the campaign contribution statute. This calls into play his state of mind and is he not the last word on himself?

Forget about any presumption of innocence. Sitting in the defendant's chair does away with that, quite nicely, thank you. The jury wanted to hear Edwards say, "I did some shameful things, but I didn't break the law, and here's why."

Daughter Cate would surely have been a supportive witness, humanizing things with the love for her father, which has been so impressively symbolized by her constant closeness to him throughout the trial. But it was Edwards himself whom the jury sought to evaluate as he looked them in the eye from the witness stand. The defense lawyers chose to play it safe, but at what cost? Risks are inherent in every trial but they are to be assumed The case cried out for the former senator to face the music under cross-examination.

Anything is possible. The attorneys had their reasons to which I am not privy. But, wow. Three weeks versus two days.

I am not relishing the opportunity to play the "I told you so" game for, frankly, my sentiments and sympathieys are with John Edwards, a disgraced man wearing a scarlet letter. He is not a danger to society, however. He doesn't belong in prison.

If he is to go down, I would have preferred to have him swing at three strikes.

Thursday, May 10, 2012


What the hell is going on here? Media report that even John Edwards own defense attorney has brandished him a liar. That's like being a little bit pregnant. The former senator is the best evidence when it comes to what he didn't know or intend, and the rug has been yanked from under his credibility? Let's take a step back and deduce, as best we can, the facts thus far established by the prosecution, viewing the evidence in a light most favorable to it.

The Edwards marriage had been void of romance for years prior to his meeting Rielle Hunter. Some men can adjust to this and accept life accordingly, while others can't. John Edwards fit the latter category. His wife was aware of his dalliances with others, but chose to look the other way. After all, what's temporary doesn't last. Then, Edwards met Ms. Hunter and flipped, head over heels. This relationship did not smack of fleeting. He fathered a child and, realizing that things could no longer be kept under control, panicked at the thought of exposure. He, or someone on his behalf, solicited funds from two wealthy friends for the purpose of making his mistress, and their child, as materially comfortable as possible, so as to keep the lid on things. Public knowledge would ruin him, his marriage and his political ambitions. He entrusted an aide to be the point man, but greed took over, as the aide funneled over a million dollars for his and his wife's benefit. It has not been established, with certainty, whether Edwards knew of this skulduggery. Ultimately, the mess blew up, with severe collateral damage. Mr. and Mrs. Aide turned squealers to save their own butts, wrote and published a rat's book to make more money and wrangled immunity from an over-zealous U.S. Attorney. Edwards wife, battling cancer during the Hunter affair, formally separated from him and subsequently succumbed to the disease. Her mental torment has been described to the jury in devastating detail. Edwards is charged with violating the campaign contribution statute, with the government alleging that the funds in question were hidden and/or falsely treated as gifts. The prosecution shall shortly rest its case-in-chief.

John Edwards is not the first man to commit adultery and to spawn an out-of-wedlock child. But his misconduct has been presented in excruciating detail before a world wide audience. What will his defense be? It's not safe to rely solely on the technical argument that the monies were donated and received as "gifts" because the jury, at this juncture, doesn't like him and, therefore, won't believe him. The situation calls for, as all criminal trials do, something dramatic, which will emotionally supersede the evidentiary damage already inflicted.

If I were Edwards' attorney (be still my heart), this would be my scenario: Stay with me, now.

There is something wrong with the picture thus far painted by the U.S. Attorney. There's a piece missing from the puzzle. A vital and central figure in this morality tale has not been called as a witness: Rielle Hunter, the woman in black.

Both sides have listed her as a potential witness. This automatically keeps her out of the courtroom by virtue of the sequestration rule. She presents herself as a supremely confident woman for whom Edwards would not have fallen, had his marriage been romantically stable. Were the prosecutor to call her, he would be limited by the restraining niceties of direct examination. A crucial factor is that she has been granted immunity by the government. She's feisty and, shall we say, not shy. She would be dynamite on the stand. Defense counsel should call her as a witness. She should be properly prepped for a detailed direct and a withering cross examination. The truth, coming from her, would simultaneously accomplish two things. "Jury Fury" would be redirected towards her and she would penultimately set the stage for the most bombastically climactic conclusion to this trial. John Edwards taking the stand on his behalf. Picture the drama.

In prior posts on this case, I have enunciated my thoughts on why this could be the beginning of John Edwards' salvation and redemption. He would take his punishment in public and to the extreme, nourishing the seeds of forgiveness.

Recall movie scenes of a public hanging. The onlookers have their fists upraised and are screaming for blood. But, once the lever is pulled, and the body is jerkily swaying in the wind, a hush envelopes the crowd, signifying a complete reversal of attitude.

Call it regret or sympathy or pity or whatever.

It's what John Edwards needs.


Thursday, May 3, 2012


Yesterday, the judge allowed a former advisor to John Edwards to recount how the former senator's now-deceased-wife confronted her husband, baring her chest in front of staff members, the day after a tabloid reported that he was cheating on her. A woman, who had endured treatments for breast cancer, took off her shirt and bra and said, "You don't see me anymore."

Ugly stuf, emphasizing what a scurrilous cad Edwards was (is). But, how is this relevant to the ultimate issue of whether he knowingly misused campaign funds? In ruling on the admissibility of evidence, the judge must balance probative value against undue prejudice. With all the salacious details already testified to by former aid Andrew Young and his wife, isn't this overkill to the reversible extreme?

Edwards acted like a pig. Plain and simple, and he has yet to fess up. To be sure, Young and his wife stand exposed to characterizations of greedy, self-serving sycophants, but the jury must, nevertheless, be looking at Edwards with disgust. If his defense is to be based upon the very valid but technical  ground that the monies in question were gifts rather than contributions, of which their solicitation and handling he had no knowledge, at least parts of the flung filth will stick to the walls of the jury room. What, then, should he do?

He should subject himself to the unforgiving ordeal of cross-examination under oath. He'll be lashed to the mast and whipped to an inch of his life. Let him admit his misconduct and set forth the "why" of it all. Not to justify but rather to unburden the unbearable weight of living with a constant lie. Tell what you did and what you knew; what you didn't do and what you didn't know.

Does he have it in him to do this? Can he legitimize the desire of his conscience to survive? Bill Clinton managed to resurrect his life because of one factor. Hillary never chose to divorce him and, thusly, stood by him.

Edwards has only himself to blame and, now, to effectuate his redemption.

He must, in a sense, stand by himself.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012


Things are not going well for the ex- senator. His former aide, Andrew Young, has testified as predicted. He, at Edward's urging, received monies which he used to cover up an affair with a woman who gave birth to Edward's child. He even falsely claimed paternity and siphoned off over a million bucks for himself and his wife, Cheri. He put out this lie at Edward's urging, a convincing pitch that the country's welfare would be ill-served were his presidential campaign to be derailed. He has received full immunity from his admitted wrongdoings and has hugely profited from a tell-all just published book. He is the classic rat-fink and the ultimate stereotype of the squealer. Foreseeably, he was savaged by withering defense counsel cross-examination and I doubt that his testimony, alone, can be the basis of conviction. It does not have to be. Reinforcement followed him to the stand in the person of his wife, who might very well be the most sympathetic player in this entire sordid mess. Media accounts, unreliable to be sure, are, nonetheless, all I have to go on, but Cheri Young seems to have hit it out of the park, adorned with the mantle of the ultimate victim. Her tears were legit, as was her narrative, as she highlighted the alleged sins of the man with presidential ambitions. Her obvious pain bolstered her believability which seemed to carom from the witness stand to the jury box.

On direct examination, having related that Edwards referred to the coverup scheme "as if it was for the good of the country", she was asked why she went along with it.

When a witness is asked a "why" question on direct, the answer must have certainly been carefully prepared. No room for error can be tolerated.

Young put her hands together, pressed them to her her chin, and bowed her head as if in prayer. The judge dismissed the jury to give her time to compose herself. About 25 feet away, Edwards sat back in his chair and put two fingers to his pursed lips. As Young dabbed her tears with a tissue, he glanced at his watch.

If the Associated Press reporter (Michael Biesecker) saw it, so did the jury.

Was he timing her "act" or merely displaying impatience with her story? Either theory is inconsistent with a sympathetic defendant. Not a cool move for an experienced trial lawyer.

Once the jury returned, Young answered the question. "I felt like everything had been dumped in my lap.....everybody was on board but me.....I ultimately decided to live with a lie."

On cross-examination, it was asserted that she had an incentive to lie about Edwards. She did not hesitate in her response. "It was a lie when we accepted paternity for your client and that is why we are here today." Bang!

After acknowledging that she and her husband kept money for themselves and made even more from Andrew Young's book about Edward's affair, she reiterated that it was the ex-senator's lies that prompted them to go public. Edwards had allegedly promised to admit the baby was his after his mistress gave birth, but instead went on national television to deny being involved with another woman. Her testimony smacked of truth.

Edward's dilemma is that he is basing his defense on a point of law: his handling of monies received did not technically violate the federal statute governing the receipt of funds during a campaign, and that the dollars in question were gifts rather than contributions, and therefore legal. This may very well be true and would constitute a valid defense. The problem: if the jury doesn't like him, can they set this aside and resolve the case on a legal question?

Juries. The quintessence of unpredictability. Emotions versus stoic reasoning.

Edwards should consider taking the stand in his own defense and bare his soul under a public flogging. To self-administer such merciless punishment could serve as the basis of redemption and fertilize the ground for some degree of forgiveness. This once earned, the atmosphere for considering the case on legal grounds might be significantly enhanced.

Being a scoundrel while not violating a statute is not an inconsistent proposition.

It is, however, a tough sell.

Edwards must bleed in public view.

Saturday, April 28, 2012


 I was young. It was quite an experience, learning to drive.

At first,  I was overcome with the thrill of it all and the speed limits were not matters of overly concern. It's not that I was reckless, I simply chose not to consider the potential consequences of going too quickly and immersed myself in the moment. Tomorrow was unlimited.

The passage of time shifted my emphasis to the quality of the machine in which I was to be seen. After all, I had earned certain credentials and just like "the clothes make the man" I wanted my car to "be me." My pace didn't slacken, for my comfort behind the wheel had grown and the desire to impress was of paramount importance. An upgrade in make and model was necessary and inevitable. A book was to be judged by its cover.

The next phase found me a bit more attentive to the rules of the road as I flirted with the concept of moderation increasing the accessibility of control. A dash of "easy does it" made the recipe more nourishing. I didn't become a "square", but rather the frequency of contact between gas pedal and brake was beginning to even up.

Approaching the home stretch, attention to highway signs became a factor, along with the realization that careful conduct made the road a lot less bumpy. Easier to travel from A to B while avoiding unnecessary accidents. There was no price to pay for adhering my driving to the norm of propriety.

And, finally, I understood that not violating traffic regulations made things a hellavalot less complicated and, surprise-surprise, bolstered my confidence as I went the distance, as well as my enjoyment of the entire experience. Just settle down and watch where you're going.

Now, um... what was I talking about?

Oh yeah.... .driving a car.

Friday, April 27, 2012


Terry and his band were in deep doo-doo. They were attracting a following, a recording contract was in the offing, the crowds were tripling in size at every performance and "people" were beginning to talk. Their careers resembled a stairway to the stars as they rehearsed their buts off for this Saturday's most important gig yet. This could be their breakthrough. But something bad had happened--real bad. On Friday night, the lead guitarist was rushed to the hospital with appendicitis. He was their best and most important musician and he could not go on. An integral part of the band was missing and the consequences were calamitous. But this chance could not be flubbed. They had worked for so long and so hard, some way out had to be found.

In desperation, Terry put out the pleading calls for a sub to fill the void. On such short notice, the pickin's were expected to be very lean, just castoffs whom nobody wanted on the big night of the week. The dudes who could  play were locked up and had been for weeks. Nobody worth anything was available. The phones were manned through the early morning hours, but to no avail.

At about noon on Saturday,Terry got a call from a drummer with whom he had worked in Vegas many months ago and stayed in touch. Drummer-boy knew a cat who, in his prime, had stepped back from the playing scene because he wanted to, of all things, write music. As brilliant as he was on the guitar, it was time for him to see where and just how far his talent could take him. His name was Skip. Terry got the contact info and wasted no time in getting on his knees to explain how desperately the band needed him.

"Listen, Skip--we're right there, just about ready to go over the edge and now this happens. I've seen you play and dig your reputation so I know you can help us. Whaddayoosay, man? I'm beggin' ya.)

Skip was completely unruffled.

"It's cool, Terry.  I'll do it and we'll get through it just fine.. You'll see."

Terry now began to pant a bit. "Do you want to see our charts, Skip, and jam with us beforehand?

Skip's blood pressure stayed where it should be. "Not necessary, Terry, I'll just crash for a few hours and meet you tonight before showtime. You guys start playin' and I'll blend in and do my thing. O.K?"

There were no alternatives on the table for Terry, so he agreed and arranged to pick Skip up to insure he'd be on time.

The band walked onto the stage where they were greeted with roars of enthusiasm and slammed into their first number. A third of the way through, Skip, who had been listening intently, began to
 join in and play, but it immediately became apparent that he had not signed up merely for a supporting role.

He left the lads in the dust as he played the sounds of music that made the crowd roar and dance and scream and applaud all at the same time, while he continued to augment the song to heights never before known.

When it was over and they were engulfed with yells of amazement and appreciation, Terry, with a wide-eyed look at Skip, said,"Wow! You just blew me away! What was that?"

Skip calmly replied,"Just something of my own. It fit in nicely, don't you think?"

Terry, beside himself with excitement, drooled, "Oh, Man, oh yeah."

The band broke into its second number and the same thing happened again, only more so. Skip dominated the audience as well as his fellow musicians. His music was of pedigree quality. Terry could not restrain himself.

"That was out of sight!"

Skip, ever the ultimate of cool, casually replied,"I wrote that years ago. Never gave it much thought. Just threw it in my closet with my other songs."

When this phenomenon occurred once more after the third offering, the crowd lost all aspects of self control and went vocally nuts. As the group stood there, acknowledging the over-the-top receptive reaction, a guy standing at the stage, yelled out at Skip.

"Do you know there's a hole in your pants and I can see your ball-sack?"

Skip, not missing a beat, shot back: "KNOW IT?  I WROTE IT!"

One cool cat, that Skip.

Sunday, April 22, 2012


Oops! The script of reasonable expectation would never have included this. It appears that somebody goofed. Big time.

I am referring to the in-court statement made by George Zimmerman at his bail hearing on Friday, 4/20/2012. He said, referring to the deceased, Trayvon Martin, "I did not know if he was armed or not."

All delete buttons in the world of criminal defense work were instinctively pressed, but it was too late. Unscripted declarations by a defendant are an accepted no-no and should never happen. They can be severely incriminating and this one was, indeed, potentially fatal to Zimmerman's anticipated defense of self-defense.

Here's why: At trial, Zimmerman must show that he reasonably believed he was in imminent danger of death or serious bodily harm. Only then could the use of deadly force against Martin have been justified. Question: How can he bear this burden if he cannot say that he (reasonably) believed Martin had a weapon? Theoretically, he could rely upon the distinction between "know" and "believe" but this is dancing with the dictionary at a time which calls for unequivocal language. Any way you look at it, his in-court statement is perilously inconsistent with his bottom-line justification of the shooting. On top of everything else he may have said to investigating authorities, who needs this unnecessary baggage?

Why, then, did this happen? Whenever a defendant plans to make a statement in open court, he must be obsessively prepared. Every word must be edited and rehearsed. If walking this mine field is deemed too dangerous, he keeps his mouth shut. Were his words, therefore, planned for a purpose or was he a wild horse? Either way, the question focuses a spotlight upon his attorney, who enjoys a splendid reputation. As he listened to his client, was he suffering the pain of a thousand cuts or playing a well-thought- out card?

We won't know until much farther down the line. But, one thing is for sure: If these words come back to haunt Zimmerman at trial, an verbal attempt to self-defend may have significantly undermined the claim of self-defense.

Unanticipated things happen in the practice of criminal defense law. This is recognized. But when they are within the control of the defendant and, therefore, should not have occured, foreheads furrow and heads are scratched.

'Tis a puzzlement.


Early this A.M. (the morning after my post) the Associated Press quoted Zimmerman's attorney as saying that his client's in-court apology was "ill-timed." No regrets for, or any reference to, the damning words of which I wrote.

I re-affirm my suspicion that Zimmerman's remarks were the result of pilot (read lawyer) error.

It sometimes happens----but shouldn't.

Sunday, April 15, 2012


A bottomless morass. To defend is to reveal. To reveal is to implode. His indictment is the ultimate overkill. He is a disgraced and broken man. His neighbors shun and hiss at him. Former friends recall his negative references to the misbehavior of other elected officials with a sadistic smirk, and refer to him as a hypocrite. His handsome face works against him and spawns the label of "pretty boy." People are afraid to publicly feel sorry for him. He has become the definitive pariah. And now, he faces the prospect of prison.

He fell in love with another woman while his wife was battling cancer. He fathered a child with his mistress and initially denied responsibility, while a political aid falsely claimed paternity. Allegedly, he solicited and received funds from two friends which he funneled through political donations and used to secretly support his lover and their child. This is the predicate for the criminal charges now being tried in a federal courtroom.

All of this sordid mess will be laid out in excruciating detail as the government presents its case. The public watches with smacking lips as a lynch-mob atmosphere hovers over the proceedings. The judge has instructed the jury that their task is not to pass judgement on Edward's personal behavior but, rather, on his alleged misuse of campaign funds, as if this can realistically be done. You gotta be kiddin' me.

From a legal standpoint, the indictment stands on the flimsiest of shaky grounds. It is a stretch beyond the breaking point. For, if the monies in question were gifts, there has been no criminal conduct. If they were donations, this is consistent with guilt. Can this task of distinguishing be accomplished fairly, without the taint of personal misconduct? This is the Senator's challenge.

 I feel sorry for John Edwards. I forgive him. I wish him better times. And here's why:

It's part of human nature to make mistakes and the impulse to cover them up is by no means peculiar to the former Senator. Many, many, many people share this human frailty. His disgrace will permanently prevail, in most quarters of public opinion, throughout his lifetime. He is not a well man. His trial had been scheduled to begin in January but was postponed when the judge apparently concurred with his lawyers' avowals that he had a serious heart problem which required treatment. He is a social leper and the fact that he has brought this on himself makes his scarlet letter all the more notorious. But I do believe  that he is no longer in denial. He is paying for his sins with the dawn of each day. His baggage of errant behavior will constitute a tangible prejudicial presence in the courtroom. Potential jurors will swear to their ability to base their determination of facts "solely on the evidence" because they want front row tickets to the show. How can this man get a fair trial?

Were I his attorney, I would advise him to take the stand and acknowledge his transgressions openly and with somber sincerity. My defense would be predicated upon the quite plausible theory that the monies received were gifts rather than "contributions" as defined in the campaign financing statutes. Senator Edwards can save his own day by  testifying truthfully under oath. This is a difficult path to follow but, at the same time, it can mark the beginning of the road back.

His ordeal is in the home stretch. And yet, this trial could be his salvation. He can earn his redemption.

And his forgiveness.

Other politicians have done worse and lived for a better day.

I wish him alleviation.

Thursday, April 12, 2012


My prognosis of voluntary manslaughter was inaccurate. Nonetheless, that lesser included charge will be on the verdict slip at a conclusion of trial. The special prosecutor was privy to all available evidence and her call should be respected.

There was, from some quarters, rejoicing at the news and even a claim that public pressure had played a hand in the severity of the crime charged. I hope not and don't think so. There has been, however, a discomforting tone in the reaction of those who, from the beginning, in publicly clamoring for Zimmerman's arrest, have blurred the line between a criminal charge and the necessity of proving that charge beyond a reasonable doubt. Celebrating the charging of a man can be explained and even justified by the effects of deep emotion running high. But, dare I suggest that those reins be pulled in a bit.

The case is now officially in the embrace of the Florida legal justice system. The stage has been set for the most effective way of determining guilt to play out on what surely will be before a national audience. A trial by jury, with the Judge and the attorneys doing their best to insure the impartiality and fairness of its members.

I've been involved in the criminal justice system since 1957, when I was admitted to the Bar of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and enjoyed the privilege of defending criminal defendants as well as presiding over such trials as a  Massachusetts District Court (First) Justice. I came to respect the positions of both sides and their adversarial skills in attempting to persuade the jury to accept their respective, and diametrically opposed points of view.

But never--not once--as either attorney or judge, did I ever, in any way, even attempt to minimize the presumption of innocence, which embraces every person criminally charged and stays with him unless he is proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, to the satisfaction of twelve unanimous jurors.

And so must it be, and so shall it be for George Zimmerman.

So let the fingers be taken off the triggers, and let this case play out in accordance with due process of law, which is a fancy definition of plain talk "fairness."

Let the trial ferret out the facts and let the jury decide whether Mr. Zimmerman's presumption of innocence has been rebutted by proof beyond a reasonable doubt.

Let justice be achieved the old fashioned way.

Let the clamor from the pulpits recede for a while.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012


The Florida special counsel, charged with the investigation of the Trayvon Martin case, has declined to convene a Grand Jury. This means two things: (1) under Florida law, the alleged suspect, George Zimmerman, cannot be tried for first degree murder and (2) the decision as to what charge, if any, will be brought against him is in the exclusive hands of special prosecutor Angela Corey. She is expected to announce her decision on Friday.

Meanwhile, the federal investigation of the case is ongoing, its apparent goal being to determine whether a hate crime has been committed, effectuating federal jurisdiction, sounding in a violation of the victim's civil rights.


Practicality would suggest a coordination of effort between state and federal authorities, pooling their investigative information, thereby achieving maximum credible results. Technically, each sovereign could bring independent charges without violating the protection against double jeopardy. It seems improbable that the feds would fold up their cards merely because the state has first crossed the decision line. Too much investigatory effort has been expended. But this case is not the norm. It has become a national thermometer.

I opine that the special prosecutor shall promulgate an information charging Zimmerman with voluntary manslaughter.

The lack of specific evidentiary clarity shall be deemed insufficient to sustain a charge of second degree murder, which is a murder not premeditated or planned in advance, but does require the element of malice aforethought. This may be considered a legal reach too far. Voluntary manslaughter, sometimes called a "heat of passion" murder, is any intentional killing that involved no prior intent to kill. Both voluntary manslaughter and second degree murder are committed on the spot, but the two differ in the circumstances surrounding the crime. The evidence at hand could be more consistent with the former, alleviating the state's burden of proof.

The country waits and watches.

Thursday, April 5, 2012


At the moment, it's in the hands of the Justice Department. That's a good thing. Were the case to be handled by Florida officials, 'twould be a cause for concern, with alarm antennae at the ready. Fertile ground for race to substitute for justice. Let's take note of a few things.

The "stand your ground' law simply means that when faced with a reasonable apprehension of a threat of death or serious bodily harm, you don't have to use available avenues of escape and may stand your ground and use deadly force to defend yourself. But that apprehension must pass the "reasonable man" test, and not be based upon whim or fancy. The Florida obviation of the necessity to retreat does not dismiss the the necessity that George Zimmerman's belief that he was being threatened with deadly force was reasonable. That's an objective test which requires that the eyes of the beholder be reasonable, what Zimmerman himself thought, notwithstanding.

The F.B.I. is all over the place. It's primary purpose is to ascertain whether Martin's civil rights were violated, thereby giving rise to Federal jurisdiction. That's as close to a level playing field as one can get. The ongoing federal investigation appears to be ultra thorough and should summarize the available evidence while determining at what level the case should be handled.

It is difficult to formulate a legal theory of just what happened, based upon  conflicting accounts reported by the media. The issue, as I see it, is "who was the aggressor and at what point in time was this role justifiably assumed?"

The temptation to emotionally rush to judgement is understandably great. But, this must be avoided now that the Justice Department, under a nation's watch, is trying to determine just what the facts are. This could prove to be the prototype of how to resolve a matter, with racial overtones, in an orderly and just fashion. The federal investigation's focus is on whether a "hate crime" was committed, thereby establishing federal jurisdiction of a civil rights violation. It should also tell us what happened and the most effective avenue of dealing with it.

My bottom line: Zimmerman has a significantly heavy laboring oar to justify this killing on the ground of self defense. His use of deadly force does not seem viable.

The divisive problem will arise if the Feds don't take the case and this responsibility befalls the state of Florida.

That's when, like a bell sounding the final round, the nation will tensely lean forward in its seat and focus on the racially charged outcome.

For now, there's reason for patient optimism that justice will be served.

The F.BI. is thoroughly investigating.

They are accountable to the Attorney General. He is accountable to the President of the United States.

Both are African Americans.

Nothing to be implied.

Just a fact-----which should not provoke any skepticism, but rather assure an investigatory compass of fairness.

I believe its burden of responsibility shall be successfully borne.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012


Gone is the myth that they don their pants two legs at a time.

The four (five?) conservative U.S, Supreme Court Justices pretend to wear the intellectual mantel of legal theoreticians, deeply furrowing their brows, as they descend from the Mount to solemnly deliver the constitutional word.

But, they're merely politicians, moved by the party whose elected President appointed them.

That's the way it is with this court, so there should be no surprise in their attitude towards the health care law. The challenge of the  conservitive members was not to decide whether Obamacare was unconstitutional--that was a pre-conceived given. The question was the grounds upon which to rely in striking it down. They chose a tortuous reasoning of the Commerce Clause. If the gloves don't fit, make 'em fit.

Justice Scalia and company assume the rolls of the founding fathers and, like Lamont Cranston ("The Shadow", to you young'uns), trumpet their ability to read men's minds. The fact that the constitution was signed two hundred and twenty-five years ago, and that things have mightily changed in our society, is arrogantly dismissed.They promulgate in accordance with their own beliefs and in the spirit of "you don't like what we say? Then appeal."

They champion staes' rights but conveniently ignore this principle when it is inconsistent with their political end-game. They grabbed center stage, in a 5-4 ultimate overreach decision, and decided the outcome of the 2000 presidential election, with the final vote tally yet to be determined.

The liberal Court members are also politically aligned, but there's a difference. They identify with the national social agenda. They care about the welfare of society. If an uninsured man lay bleeding in the street, they believe that helping him is preferable to letting him die as a punishment for not paying premiums.

This subject has, by now, been vented ad nauseam. Please see my prior post re the applicability of the congressional power to tax in the interest of the general welfare, as the legal validation of the the health care reform act. To fine those who don't obtain insurance is, of course a "tax", within the meaning of that authority, but the word is a political plague and was avoided by the Solicitor General in his argument before the Court. But it walks and talks like a duck. (See Social Security)

The infallible interpretation of history shall drape the "Conservative Five" with a cloak of shame.

But don't exhale just yet. There are other social issues which they breathlessly await to decimate.

In the words of Justice Austin Powers, "Yeah Baby! They're just politicians."

And this is an election year. 'Nuff said.

Sunday, April 1, 2012


First the disclaimer: I am not an authority on constitutional law. In my years on the bench, I, whenever possible, substituted my version of practical common sense in lieu of theories of expertise. My definition of justice was "to what was right." Of course, that brought into play my life's experiences and qualified me as the most activist judge in the land. But, I digress, except to note that I shall never shed that mantle, for it is self-defining.


Historically, the core belief of the Democratic party is that government should address problems embraced by the arena of public social agenda. The Republican theory would have government refrain from such action, except in dire national emergency, and, even then, look to the role of the states rather than invite the federal authorities to play the evil Big Daddy.

I, however, believe that in matters of sweeping social agendas, on a national scale, Congress has the right, and indeed, the duty to step in and do the right thing. (See Social Security)

Where do they get this power? Not from the Commerce Clause of the Constitution (which led to the ridiculous analogy , offered by the conservative Supreme Court Justices, of being ordered to buy broccoli) but from the legislative taxing authority to provide for the national general welfare.

For, is not the individual mandate provision of the health care law, with a financial penalty for non-adherence, akin to a tax? Of course it is. And this should be the basis for affirming its constitutionality.

On what is this proposition grounded?

The practical, common sense, desire to do the right thing.

Who dares deny that this was not the original intent of the constitutional framers?

Too simplistic an approach? Consider the difference between being "intelligent" and "smart."

Come down to earth. It's a great vantage point for reasonable practicality.

Saturday, March 17, 2012


I was in my third year of high school and an ardent Celtics fan. Cousy, Sharman, Russell, Heinsohn and Luscitoff. With a bench of Havlicek, Sam Jones, K.C. Jones, Frank Ramsey etc. The ultimate Dream Team. Lord, they were good. Their home was the Boston Garden, with an always-filled seating capacity of 13,909.

Occasionally, there would be hockey-basketball double-headers. Hockey first. Back then, the Bruins had a farm team, the Olympics, and they would precede the Celtics, after which there would be an extended intermission during which the famous parquet floor would be set down for basketball. While this was going on, entertainment, of sorts, would take place for the capacity crowd. Organist John Kiley would provide music and accompany anyone volunteering to sing. It was on such a night that I indulged my showbiz bug-bite and challenged the Gods of Probability. Believe it. There were 13,909 witnesses.

My friends and I were in our usual, kiss the sky, top balcony seats. Mr. Kiley was playing with vigor and a line of vocal aspirants had formed and was lengthening. I turned to my buddies and bursted,"I've got an idea!" and bolted for the steps. In no time, I was in queue, anxiously awaiting my turn. Those before me were the usual karaoke types, having their own good time, with absolutely no-one paying attention. Kiley's patience appeared strained at having to share the spotlight with such rank amateurs. Then, my turn came. The guy before me had just finished "Sweet Rosie O'grady", severely testing Kiley's sanity and sobriety.

 He looked at me and barked,"Whatsyaname!" This was where the genes of go-for-it took over.

"FRANK OX", I replied. Where did I get the name? I have no idea.

"Whaddayagonna sing, Ox?"

"It Had To Be You."

He went into the intro. Please try to imagine the constant low-level-but-consistent din of murmuring conversation coming from the increasingly impatient multitude. There was no backing out now, lest I be labeled a "chicken" on the corner and in the poolroom. I served it up.


That's right. I sang the song with just that repeating phrase. And an unanticipated, unique phenomenon occurred. An audio transition. Ever so slowly, the crowd noise began to dim, fade to silence, change to a sound of inquiry and understanding, then to a laughter of realization which quickly morphed into pure, unadulterated applause----and then a ROAR of approval.

These sounds reflected a picture of "stop--listen--do you hear what I hear?--that guy is singing just the song title, over and over--what a hot ticket--that's funny--let's give him a hand."

Kiley caught on almost immediately but he, too, picked up on the crowd reaction and, although truly pissed, held back on the hook and followed me right to the end.

I finished with a swaggering, old-time, Ethel Merman-type sign-off and raised my right arm in triumph. The crowd went nuts.

Kiley yelled,"Get the hell off!" The ovation had not diminished.

I began to leave the platform-stage and suddenly turned around and went back on, again extending my arm as a boxer after the final bell. Impossibly, the roar of the 13,909 crowd increased all the more.

I milked that moment for as long as I could, and then, finally, left the stage. People swear that it took a full minute for the cheering to subside.

'Tis an indelible page in my memory book.

The why of it all lies in my personal proclivities.

But, hey. Ain't youth a hell of a thing?

Life is an adventure.

Go for it.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012


"I wish you a healthy and happy life", I said to an acquaintance.

"How dare you be so arrogant as to presume my future?", he angrily shot back.

Sounds ridiculous, no? But, that's the type of lunacy which attends Republican hopeful Rick Santorum. President Obama wishes that every youth has the opportunity for a college education and he, therefor, is brandished a snob, wishing to impose the liberal philosophies of professors on young people.

Before you laugh too hard, realize that there are many out there who agree with this insane twist of illogical interpretation. Match that with his condemnation of the bedrock separation of church and state in politics, and you, hopefully, begin to understand that Santorum is the essence of the most extreme right-wing zealot. In other words, he is dangerously nuts.

Why, then, is he apparently enjoying such a surge in voter sentiment? The answer is that the Tea Party minority has the lungs of a silent, reasonable majority.

Can Santorum ultimately prevail? The mere posing of the question constitutes grounds for apprehension. Political momentum is not subject to precise prognosis. What if his virus becomes viral?

If Romney was endowed with common-sense gonads, he would break ranks with nonsense and denounce Santorom's rantings in a loud and clear voice. O.K.---Santorum is sincere in his dementia, but an absence of malice is perfectly consistent with an absence of mental stability.

Redemption lies in the yet-to-be-heard voice of reasonable people. Comets attract temporary attention but soon fall from the sky.

There is a close connection between reason and emotion.

The final vote tally will reflect the power of the mind to think, understand, and form judgements by a process of logic.

In the meantime, however, there is much cause for anxious concern.

Friday, February 10, 2012


I've always looked upon life as as an adventure book, with each new chapter marking another step towards another positive moment in the sun.

From the charge of being a magical thinker, I do not run and, indeed, unabashedly embrace this proclivity as a virtue, not a frailty. I suppose that, in this sense, I shall always resemble a boy with wannabe aspirations, and the never-ending feeling that the best is still yet to come. Kill me, shoot me, I'm a card carrying romanticist. So it was, in the fall of 1950.

I was a freshman at Harvard, a commuter, hanging with the Jamaica Plain Townies who rode the rails with me each day as we were deposited at the kiosk Harvard Square "T" station. The grand-daddy of all culture shocks. Our command post was the Commuter's Center which adjoined the now defunct but then legendary "Cronins", the watering hole of the entire college. Ten cent beers--"dimeys"--need I say more?

One of the many historical traditions embraced by all was the Harvard Freshman Smoker, an annual event attended by, and limited to, the new freshman class. There were no definitive ground rules other than its reputation for duplicating the atmosphere of a bachelor party. A hell-raiser. I began panting as soon as I learned of it.

Somehow, someway, (I feel like breaking into song) I met with and swiftly seduced the Faculty Professor in charge of the program, resulting in his proclaiming me producer, director, star and casting director of the whole damned show. I quickly set to work.

I blocked out a few skits and personally, and with great selectivity, wrote a closing scene which called for me to passionately embrace and bend-back kiss six beautiful women. The largest Boston model agency was, at that time, the Ford Agency to whom I made an in-person pitch, equating Harvard's Sanders Theatre with Hollywood's M.G.M. studios. Presto! I had recruited six gorgeous ladies who were willing not only to participate, but to arduously rehearse as well---many, many times. Nothing like preparation to quell opening night jitters. Heh, heh, heh.

But, I still needed a boffo something to bring out the Hellmann's and bring out the best. I was an ardent Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis fan and, lo-and-behold, they were playing, in person, at the Metropolitan Movie Theatre, which became the Wang Center, and then something else. My adrenaline surge was unstoppable and my ambition for the project was boundless. Another mountain top to conquer, enjoy and use as a buffer against the valleys which all-too- patiently await their turn in one's journey through

 Dean Martin was a charter member of Sinatra's Rat Pack which secured my support for his election to anything. His records outsold Sinatra's and his national tour with Jerry Lewis was the hottest ticket in any town. Appearing on the same bill with them was a lovely and talented songstress named Helen O'Connell. A lesser star but definitely more accessible. I put in a call to her at the Met, leaving a titled call back of "Chairman of the Harvard Freshman Smoker." Her manager returned the call and I raved about his client and how proud Harvard would be to feature her as the star of the Smoker. The planets must have been properly aligned, for he invited me backstage, the next day to speak with Ms. O'Connell, personally. Hold on world! Here I come!

At the appointed hour, there I was, in the wings of the stage, as Martin and Lewis were finishing their act. Off they came, trailed by thunderous applause, and walked past me, just inches away. Their bow ties   were undone, hanging down their tuxedo lapels. I could not take my eyes off Martin. He was the handsomest man I had ever seen. Black tan, black curly hair, cuffs shot and showing a good two inches of collar accentuating his 6'3'' frame. I am secure enough in my masculinity to proclaim that he was gorgeous. There were several Boston philanthropists waiting to greet the duo but Martin literally barged through them without saying a word. They flocked to Lewis with quizzical eyes, who tried to alleviate the situation with an explanation of how tired Martin was, and the damage seemed to be curtailed. On Lewis' dressing room door was a sign reading "The Jolly Jew." Martin's said "The Gorgeous Guinea." His manager told me that Dean was truly the guy who didn't give a damn about anything, against whom Bing Crosby was a nervous wreck. In any event, he was Apollo. Helen O'Connell said yes so the show was set, except I wanted still more.

One of the most famous burlesque dancers in the country was Ms. Sally Rand. She was playing at the the Old Howard burlesque house in the legendary Scollay Square district. I went after her with the same tenacity employed with the others. She was a stripper with class, far removed from the pole dancers of today. She was a charming lady. I explained why I was seeking her out and she immediately said, "I'm in!" The show was now ready for prime time.

Sanders Theatre was packed with howling, beer-soaked wolves. They didn't applaud, they just screamed, non-stop. Word had gotten around The Yard as to the show's content and what had been a ritual of rowdy behavior was now a coliseum screaming for blood as the gladiators fought to the death. Gasoline waiting for the drop of an errant match. A riot ready to happen. The ultimate tumult. The Frankenstein monster and I was its creator.

Sally Rand was the opening act and it was like tempting Hannibal Lecter with blood. She was scantily dressed in see-through fans. I had written a few lines but it was useless trying to follow them. At one point, the fresh-animals began throwing pennies onto the stage. Bellowing beasts. Rand, ever the classy pro, picked one up, looked straight into the dark void and said, with a sneer somehow managing to be heard,"I only know of one animal that throws a scent." In that one instance, the crowd was hers. In her profession, hecklers were routine, reducing the taunts of college freshman to EZ putty. The veteran stood tall and conquered all. A masterpiece of tone limit-setting. She saved the show. At least for Helen O'Connell's appearance.

Another polished performer, she was demure and enchanting. She answered my questions with grace and aplomb. She was lovely. She even sang, a cappella, a few lines from her all-time hit,"Green Eyes." An epiphany was experienced by all: the mature sound of applause. Her years of band-singing with the likes of Jimmy Dorsey had the quality of experience that schools can never teach. She wow'ed 'em.

And then, the return of the animal kingdom. My self-authored skit with the Ford models. The scripted lines, such as they were, served only as a build to me embracing and kissing them all. In some situations a kiss is a ritual, a formal or symbolic gesture indicating devotion, respect or greeting. In this instance, it served as a call to the wild. The dormancy created by Ms. O'Connell was overcome by the primal instincts of drunken zoo-residents. The degree of ferocity increased with each model joining the congo line l'amour. At one point, these fine Harvardians began tearing out the seat cushions of the benches and hurling them onstage. All hell broke out. As difficult as it may be to believe, I was experiencing no carnality whatsoever. I just wanted to end the thing and avoid a riot. You never in your life saw such hurried kisses of beautiful women. Finally, it was over. But not without repercussions.

From that night on, and because, in part, of that night, Harvard Freshman Smokers have drastically changed. "Sex, beer and a riot" used to be a comfortable definition of this revered tradition, but no longer. If they are held at all, they are much more subdued and frequently held in a House dining room. That's cool. But, oh, what it used to be.

For my then freshman peers, it was a night to remember. For me, it was an indelible episode of life.

To put it succinctly, we all had a ball.

The ambition, the drive of youth. All challenges gingerly accepted with confidence.

If not then, when?

Monday, January 23, 2012


The beginning was the end of Gingrich. Romney, obviously honed to steel, seized the moment, grabbed the sharp- attack ball and ran with it for a game-winning touchdown. Were it not for excessive makeup, Gingrich's complexion would have revealed panic green. It was not unpleasant to see a bully finally get his due. His resignation as Speaker in disgrace, his lobbying for Freddie Mac under the sham cover of "historian" and his "consulting" for the pharmaceuticals cannot be controverted, despite his embarrassing attempts at denial. The Florida primary may turn on a dime, but as that state goes, the nation may very well not.

Romney seems to have found a rhythm, confident in his own skin. But there are few accolades connected to that claim. A long road remains untravelled as the vetting becomes even more intense, inviting more issues to cause the self-destruction of a candidate.

The GOP dilemma may be thusly stated: as it hopes for an electable candidate to survive, what if all the trees in the forest fall, leaving no scintilla of competency standing?

The West Wing night lights illuminate a 2012 election gambol.

Sunday, January 22, 2012


Newt Gingrich is a cad. A malicious malignancy who constantly plays the room and revises history by attempting to justify and contort his proclivity for doing wrong things by saying he's sorry for being like everyone who makes mistakes. His contrition is a three dollar bill. Formally previously castigated and scarlet-lettered by his own party, he has knowingly violated the ethic rules of his own kind--which ain't easy to do. His moral character reflects that he is his own pimp. Cheating on a cancer ridden first wife while simultaneously savaging his President for similar misconduct, cheating-repeating on wife #2 with mistress-now #3 may not be a crime but it certainly warrants giving his postman a change-of-address card reflecting a present domicile of the gutter. He shoots first and thinks later. His feigned anger at John King for serving up a grooveball question on his lack of moral compass is laughable. His temperament and sociopath instincts makes his presidential candidacy terrifying. He almost makes Romney look not so bad.

My prediction: keep your eye on Jeb Bush, to whom the GOP might very well turn, on bended knee, in order to avoid certain disaster.

Sunday, January 1, 2012


It's too casual, dammit! Like saying "excuse me" if you bump into someone.

Consider that you are addressing an individual who has volunteered to risk his (her) right to stay alive. Every day, just read a newspaper or watch T.V. Troops killed in a mortar attack, by a roadside bomb or in a firefight. The war status drags on with no complete closure in sight, perhaps causing our tolerance for these daily horrific events to stiffen. Is it possible to even partially imagine the dread which pervades the family of a service member, to whom every phone call is a potential harbinger of death or injury?

The marvel of it all is the attitude, spirit and sense of duty shared by the troops themselves. True patriots who take pride in their mission and deal with their risk of ultimate sacrifice as the given responsibility of an American citizen. Several tours of duty do not diminish their allegiance. And what caliber of people they are. They truly stand tall. Overriding fear will not be found in their DNA.

There should be an honoring ceremony for every homecoming. Educational and/or employment opportunities should be mandatory. Cutting edge medical treatment should be available, regardless of cost. They must, even in the best of times, never be taken for granted. That's why, when you see a service member in public, don't be shy. Approach and proclaim. "God bless you." It's the very least you can and should do.

Look at it this way: it's because of them that we can indulge in the luxury of addressing life's responsibilities in a free society. They are first class citizens and should be treated as such. It's up to us to always remember and appreciate.