-Are you a God?
- they asked the Buddha.
- No.
- Are you an angel, then?
- No.
- A saint?
- No.
- Then what are you?


"Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I'm not sure of
the universe"-Albert Einstein-

Om Mani Padme Hum

Matthew 25:40

And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

Matthew 7 1-6

1. Judge not, that ye be not judged.
2. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.
3. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?
4. Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?
5. Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye.
6. Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Perry Mason - The Lawyers Lawyer - The Infuencer of Senators and Judges

Perry Mason AKA Raymond Burr
Perry Mason was always one of my favorite shows. Even today, decades after it went off the air, if I see it's on I'll watch it. I prefer the original series to the later movies, after Mason became a judge and left the bench to defend Della Street. I also have all, or nearly all, of  the 80 some books. In the books you see the real Perry Mason, although from what I've read in some article or other, the author and therefore the one person who really knew Mason, Erle Stanley Gardner said "That's Perry Mason," when he saw Raymond Burr in the role. In the tv show Mason is somewhat one dimensional, in the books you see a multi-dimensional Mason, and other characters.  Most people don't know that the author, Erle Stanley Gardner, had spent years practicing law in California, and the knowledge he gained was put to good use in the  Mason stories, which hinge on valid points of law, forensic medicine or science, as well as occasionally offering legal citations. A self taught lawyer, leaving law school after one month, he was innovative and restless in his nature, Gardner was bored by the routine of legal practice, the only part of which he enjoyed was trial work and the development of trial strategy, this was a trait that he shared with Perry Mason who made no secret, in the books primarily, that the routine, even answering the mail, bored him to tears and some cases were taken on merely because they offered something more interesting. 
Erle Stanley Gardner circa 1966
 Gardner prefaced many of his novels with tributes to coroners and forensic pathologists whose work was instrumental to solving cases. So his books had a basis in law, which unfortunately never really made it to the tv show, but nobody I ever knew who enjoyed it noticed. 
Related to that, Gardner devoted thousands of hours to a project called "The Court of Last Resort", which he undertook with his many friends in the forensic, legal and investigative communities. The project sought to review and, if appropriate, to reverse, miscarriages of justice against possibly innocent criminal defendants who were convicted owing to poor original legal representation or to the inadequate, careless or malicious actions of police and prosecutors and most especially, with regard to the abuse or misinterpretation of medical and other forensic evidence. The resulting 1952 book, not a Perry Mason novel, earned Gardner his only Edgar Award, in the Best Fact Crime category.
Contrary to what everybody believes, Perry Mason did lose three cases of almost 300, which is a record pretty much any lawyer would envy, especially since he got one of his losses reversed on appeal. His losses were: The Case of the Witless Witness, The Case of the Deadly Verdict,  and The Case of the Terrified Typist.
During her Senate confirmation hearings, Sonia Sotomayor revealed that she first became interested in the law while watching the Perry Mason television show and mentioned that he had one guilty client, but couldn't remember which episode it was, even when Al Franken the comedian senator made an issue of it. It sounds odd that she'd admit that I suppose, especially in a confirmation hearing in front of the senate,  but I  personally know several lawyers who admit that Perry Mason, usually the tv show, had something to do with them becoming lawyers, you have to figure if I know a few, there are probably more that Mason influenced, maybe hundreds, or thousands, or tens of thousands, there are a LOT of lawyers. That's not bad for anybody, but really not bad for a fictional character.  I highly recommend that you enjoy the tv show, I do. But if you really want to enjoy and learn from Mason, read the books. If enough do maybe they'll be put back in print.

Lee Murray

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