Lorenzo Dow, an evangelist of the last century, was on a preaching tour when he came to a small town one cold winter’s night. He entered the local general store to get some warmth, and saw the town’s lawyers gathered around the pot-bellied stove discussing the town’s business. Not one offered to allow Dow into the circle.
Dow told the men who he was, and that he had recently had a vision where he had been given a tour of Hell, much like the traveler in Dante‘s Inferno. When one of the lawyers asked him what he had seen, he replied, “Very much what I see here: all of the lawyers, gathered in the hottest place.”
If lawyers were to undertake no causes till they were sure they were just, a man might be precluded altogether from a trial of his claim, though, were it judicially examined, it might be found a very just claim.
~Samuel Johnson, Journal of a Tour of the Hebrides, August 15, 1773
There is a vague popular belief that lawyers are necessarily dishonest. I say vague, because when we consider to what extent confidence and honors are reposed in and conferred upon lawyers by the people, it appears improbable that their impression of dishonesty is very distinct and vivid. Yet the impression is common, almost universal. Let no young man choosing the law for a calling for a moment yield to the popular belief. Resolve to be honest at all events; and if in your own judgment you cannot be an honest lawyer, resolve to be honest without being a lawyer. Choose some other occupation, rather than one in the choosing of which you do, in advance, consent to be a knave.
~Abraham Lincoln, memorandum for law lecture, 1850
The key is to commit crimes so confusing that police feel too stupid to even write a crime report about them.
~Randy K. Milholland, Something Positive Comic, 10/30/03
There is no den in the wide world to hide a rogue. Commit a crime and the earth is made of glass. Commit a crime, and it seems as if a coat of snow fell on the ground, such as reveals in the woods the track of every partridge, and fox, and squirrel.
The term “f~~-g pigs” in the context in which it was used referred not to copulation of porcine animals but was rather a highly insulting epithet directed to the police officers . . . ..Appellant’s use of the vulgarism describing the filial partner in an oedipal relationship is fairly to be viewed as an epithet rather than as a phrase appealing to a shameful or morbid interest in intra-family sex . . . .There is, after all, a strong possibility that an expert witness called in the matter before us might have testified to the occasional use of the offending profane adjective in bar association quarters or in trial judges’ lounges—alas, all too often in reference to a decision of the Court of Appeal.
~Robert S. Thompson, People v. Price, 4 Cal. App. 3d 941, 948-49, 84 Cal. Rptr. 585 (1970) (dissenting)
I put sixteen years into that damn obscenity thing. I tried and I tried, and I waffled back and forth, and I finally gave up. If you can’t define it, you can’t prosecute people for it. And that’s why, in the Paris Adult Theatre decision, I finally abandoned the whole effort. I reached the conclusion that every criminal-obscenity statute—and most obscenity laws are criminal—was necessarily unconstitutional, because it was impossible, from the statute, to define obscenity. Accordingly, anybody charged with violating the statute would not have known that his conduct was a violation of the law. He wouldn’t know whether the material was obscene until the court told him.
~William J. Brennan, Jr., quoted in Nat Hentoff, “Profiles: The Constitutionalist,” New Yorker, 12 Mar. 1990, at 45, 56