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Part II



Ah, yes, the gift of rejection.  By the time I was nineteen I finally met a pretty girl who thought I was wonderful.  What she saw in me I have yet to discover. Perhaps it was that I thought she was quite wonderful too.  But there was something else there. There always is – the need to be respected, to be accepted — even loved.  Underneath all the noise and panting and craziness of first loves  there is often something that is trying to be born, that is struggling in the pain of birth.  I suspect that was true with me.  She must have understood that.  I have written about that phenomenon in a book called, “The Making of a Country Lawyer.

I entered law school and graduated magnum cum laude which was only the result of being afraid I would fail and be kicked out.  I didn’t have enough money to rent a cap and gown so I never attended the graduation ceremonies.  I was married to that wonderful girl with our first child.

Then I became the first honor graduate in the history of the law school to fail the bar.  A lawyer up north in Worland, Wyoming had offered me free office space and he would send me the leavings of his practice.  You know – the divorces in cases without much of a fee, and he would send me the fender-bender automobile accident cases.  I was excited, delighted, ecstatic.  But the offer was withdrawn when I failed the bar.

When I passed the bar the second try I finally got a job for $200 a month in the small town of Riverton, Wyoming.  I have written about that on this blog recently.  I lost that job when my employer became the local judge.   I had to get another job.  I’ll admit: after a grueling door to door campaign for prosecutor that took me to the Indian reservation “teepee-tapping,” and after having knocked on every door in a county nearly as big as some of our smaller states, I was, at twenty-four, elected the youngest county attorney in the history of the state.  But my successes as a politician ended there.

After two terms as prosecutors I wanted to go to Washington.   I ran as a Republican.  We have all sinned.  Democrats were suspected Commies in those days.  I ran against William Henry Harrison (the President’s grandson) in the Republican primary for Wyoming’s only seat in Congress,

My campaign slogan was, “Let’s be heard in Washington.”  My opponent had been in Congress for years and wasn’t a ranking member of even the least important of the many committees of Congress.  I discovered that the people of Wyoming simply didn’t want to be heard.  They wanted to be left alone.  Even though I knocked on most of the doors in this sprawling state my defeat was massive and absolute.  I did carry one precinct, namely, Bill, Wyoming.  Three votes.  Somehow I managed to get two of them.

I, an utterly provincial country boy, was desperately trying to escape the provincial town of Riverton.  I had four kids by this time, and by this time I had represented insurance companies, and also held the record for the largest personal injury verdicts for ordinary people in the state.  Moreover, I’d been a prosecutor.

So I argued to the Wyoming law school dean that I could teach law students all about trial work.  I was rejected out of hand.  No way.  The dean wanted some young pointy head out of a big law school who had been in a big firm for a year or two.  That would add to the standing of U.W. Law School.  We do not want you.

Then maybe I could become a judge.  I asked my Republican pal, Stan Hathaway, then the governor, to appoint me to a vacancy that had just arisen in my county.  He called me to his office in Cheyenne, there to show me a pile of letters he’d received from his Riverton constituents who were more than mildly opposing any such appointment.  He turned me down.  So, soundly rejected, I quit the law.

Why is rejection such a glorious gift?  Hang on for Part III.




The Glorious Gift of Rejection.


Part I


Early on, my mother told me I was a smart aleck and that no one would come to my party if I had one.  The ditty she recited was, “Smarty, Smarty, had a party and nobody came.”

Facing such a horror I never had a party, for, indeed, I knew what my mother said was true:  I was a smart aleck.  But we all crave acceptance, and a smart aleck has only one method — to try even harder and thereby to become an even more obnoxious smart ass.  In high school I wanted to be class president, but who would want a smart aleck representing them?  No one.

I couldn’t make the football team in high school and basketball was a pretend sport for me.  The only place I could shoot hoops was in my dreams.  I did, at least, develop a sort of “look-at-me” kind of walk, and I boxed a little.  But in my second fight I got knocked out on my feet by a big Swede with a big neck and a pin head.  The only sport I was good at was talking.  I was a champion big mouth.

I thought maybe I should go to the Naval Academy at West Point – be a big time sea captain or something.  But I was slightly red-green colorblind and couldn’t see the letters in that silly spot test, and I was rejected out of hand before I even sought an appointment from some Wyoming politician I didn’t know.

I went to the University of Wyoming located, as it was, in my hometown.  You had to belong to a fraternity in those days if you amounted to anything.  The frat boys got all the girls because they had a frat pin for “pinning” one of those cute little sweethearts.  No girl wanted to be seen with a guy who had no pin to pin, who lacked that sort of social genitalia.

At that time I was working on the railroad as a brakeman and I came to my eight o’clock class covered with coal dust and wearing bib overall work clothes.  I also was a night bellhop in the local hotel.  My parents were not bankers or business people, and only kids whose parents were, or who were athletes or who were very, very nice, or who had those towering grade averages – in short, only those who might amount to something someday and thereby bolster the reputation of the fraternity got rushed in rush week.   Besides, I had pimples.

Breathlessly all during Rush Week I waited for some sign from the frat boys.  I had no phone.  My folks had moved off to Bolivia where my father worked in the tin mines.   But surely they could leave a note or something at the basement room I rented for ten dollars a month with another kid, the room, one of those with the unfinished concrete walls next to the landlady’s laundry tubs.  But no.  Nothing from the frat boys.  Ugly silence.

And worse, one had to muster a response to the interminable, unrelenting painful inquiries from one’s peers, “What frat did you pledge?”  What was one supposed to say with an arrogant shake of the head?  “I’m independent.”  And that’s what I said.  What else was there to say – that I was such a repulsive cipher that even the several lower-rung fraternities that were begging for the leftovers wouldn’t have me?

That was my early introduction to those glorious gifts of rejection.  I’ll talk more about it, that is I will be asking, is rejection something to be longed for, coveted, fought for and adored?  Well, stay tuned.


The Great Power of Ignorance

The Great Power of Ignorance

Some claim amazement that any lawyer could achieve national prominence after spending his first seventeen years of practice in the sticks of Wyoming – indeed, in Riverton, Wyoming, population something like five or six thousand people.  But the key to whatever success I now enjoy after nearly sixty years of practice is ignorance.

Ah, the power of ignorance!

I remember believing that if I could start a practice on my own and handle enough divorces at $150 and farm leases at $5.00 that someday I could own a small piece of land, build a modest home, and maybe even be elected to the legislature of Wyoming.

No one told me how powerless a young, inexperienced lawyer was supposed to be.  I didn’t know that big corporations, especially insurance companies, were supposed to be unbeatable.  I thought I could accomplish any goal.  My ambitions, as provincial as they were, were thankfully protected by ignorance.

I didn’t know you had to be a graduate of Yale or Harvard or Michigan or some other great university to have a shot at becoming a successful lawyer.  I didn’t even know where Yale or Harvard was.  Princeton was back East somewhere.  But where I couldn’t say.

I took on cases and attacked my opponents in court like a wild Comanche armed with only a bow and arrow.  I didn’t know you had to belong to certain clubs and golf with the bankers to get cases and to amount to something.  No one told me who to be like, because there were no great role models in Wyoming.  I thought lawyers were supposed to fight for their clients.  I thought judges were fair and honest.  I believed in the system – that there was justice for all out there if you wanted it bad enough and went after it.

I never had to make deals with the power structure because I didn’t understand their power.  They were afraid of me, because I was ignorant of their power, and powered with an innocent appreciation of my own.  No one is more powerful than the kid in the trenches who has no understanding of pain or death.  That’s why we send young men to war.

I remember the old boy from our largest city, the preeminent insurance lawyer in Wyoming, and, of course, Wyoming’s representative to the American Bar Association.  He wanted us to give twenty-five dollars each to help the national bar establish an advertising program for lawyers – to give us a better image he said.  That was nearly sixty years ago.  I got up in the county meeting of about five lawyers and ignorantly asked, “If we want to be seen better, why don’t we do better?”  That was real ignorance.

My opponents always thought I was brave.  But I was ignorant of the consequences of losing.  I won because I was innocent – a better word.  But if one is ignorant of what They can do to one, one has an indomitable power over them.  Their greatest power against the people, yes, against those who fight for the people, is Fear.  Fear is the controlling power of every society.  It is the foundation of religion.  You had better conform, you had better give away whatever power you have, or bad things will happen to you.   But I didn’t understand that rule.

I am put in mind of my nephew when he was about twelve and playing Little League baseball.  It was the last inning in the championship game – his team was two down, the other team was ahead by three, and when my nephew stepped up to bat the bases were loaded.  He hit a homer and won the game.  I said, “I bet you were afraid, weren’t you?  The whole game rested in your hands.”

“No,” he said.  “They were in trouble.”

The power of ignorance frees one of fear, frees one to rely on one’s native talents undiluted by the message of the power structure that one is a meaningless digit who can become successful only if one submits and follows the dictates of power.

I like to tell lawyers, and any others who will listen, that they are perfect – and their perfection is powerful.  We are each unique.  No one lives or has ever lived or will live in the future who is exactly like me, or like you.  This means one cannot be compared, because there is no one to compare one to.

But we have been educated otherwise.  We have been convinced from an early age that we are lacking in some way.  We are not as bright as our brother, or sister.  We are told by our teachers that we are not as talented as the others in the class so we are given lower marks.  But always, the greats of the species have somehow been ultimately saved from the debilitating judgments of others.

The lawyer I fear most is the young advocate, man or woman, who does not know that I am a more accomplished lawyer.  I fear an opponent who is protected by ignorance and who, therefore, is free to beat me.  I am afraid of those kind because of the great power of their ignorance that protects them and unleashes their own indomitable power.

Ah, the power of ignorance!

The Joy of Senility

The Joy of Senility

I am dealing with old age because it is smacking me in the face like a wet dishrag.  But I have choices:  I can ignore it, pretend it has not arrived, or I can get better acquainted with it, like becoming intimate with some repulsive trespasser who has moved into the neighborhood and now is getting overly friendly.

Still, I find old age fascinating.  Where I was totally surefooted at 79 plus 364 days, the next day, on my 80th birthday, people began helping me down the steps and warning me of obvious dangers.   They started to regularly inspect my shirtfront to make sure I wasn’t drooling my food, and on occasion when they found the spots they seemed elated – as if they saved the old man from terminal embarrassment.  The year before, the droppings were merely the tracks of a sloppy man whose habits they had silently endured all those years like bird spatters on the window.

And I provide people with advantages they never had before I became senile.  My memory has never been good.  Like a tiny closet in which to store all of one’s old clothes.  Now those around me can, with solid assurance, insist they told me something that they, themselves forgot to tell me.  “You know how your memory is,” they say with raised eyebrows and a sort of patient solicitness.

Another thing:  they expect wisdom where none exists.  They demand it.  The only reason they can respect an old person is because he is supposed to be wise.  He is no longer attractive physically.  He can no longer perform all those physical things that were once his duties.   He can now be tolerated only if he is wise.  But Wisdom — why have you forsaken me?

I feel harassed by time.  There is only so much of it.  I don’t want to waste it, yet I have no sure measure by which to properly make my decisions.  I think, well, I could be dead in the morning, so I better eat the ice cream with that hot apple pie tonight.  Hate to be on my deathbed wishing I had and all they give me is weak chicken broth.

I need to attend to certain chores I must attend to before I die.  I have put them off all these years, like cleaning out the drawers of all the junk I have accumulated – thoughtless to leave such a mess for others to deal with.  I can hear them now:  God, he was a sloppy old bastard.  You’d think he could have gotten rid of this stuff and not left it for us to haul off.

And there’s my failure to gather that which needs to be put in places where my family can find them, things I have written, poems, clever letters, and pretended insights, and I also need to discard things I wish I hadn’t written – you know – just cleaning things up a bit like you do for strangers who read you – why not for the family?  But is that the way one should be spending one’s priceless last days?

No, the odds for an unexpected death in the next day or two, next week, even next year are not staggering.  I will probably live a while yet.  I have a lot of things to do – like writing another memoir about cases thought to be important.  Or making the perfect photograph.  Truth is, in a decade or less those cases will be forgotten and new important cases will appear along with new heroes who will be soon forgotten as well, which brings back the vision of hot apple pie and ice cream that should be approached and attacked and destroyed, bite at a time — the only justifiable warfare I know.  Hot fudge sundaes will also do.

I look back on a long life.  Thankfully I have forgotten much of it.  Sometimes fleeting bits and pieces slip into consciousness just as I am going to sleep or waking up.  I made a lot of mistakes, grew from them, hurt others in the making, tried to rectify my wrongs with service to still others, and, in the end, fell vastly short of my potential.  But I had just as well be satisfied with what my whole life looks like, as altered to fit my comfort level.  Had I been a better man, a more generous person, a more productive human being, a better father and husband, well, I couldn’t have kept abreast of that.  One needs a little sin in one’s life to understand virtue.

What would I do if somehow I were able to come back?  I think I would become a bank robber, a poet and a painter.  Bank robbing is the ultimate virtue.  Banks rob the poor and the powerless, throw old ladies out of their homes in winter and leave endless hordes of innocent children homeless.  Bankers are the elite of the criminal element in this country.  They are usurious and heartless, empty-souled and play golf.  And they measure all worth in money.

A good bank robber who could rob back for the poor would be a major saint – except that the banks also own the churches who bestow sainthood.  I should call the new order of bank robbers the Brotherhood (and Sisterhood – we will need a good female accomplice to drive the getaway car) of the Best of the Worst Bank Robbers, or B&SBWBR for short.  Such a saint would live forever because infinite joy is an infinite extender of life.

Now to quote the most important of my role models, Sitting Bull, who, after he laid an invaluable hunk of wisdom on the tribe mumbled:  “I have spoken.”

On Jumping without a Parachute

I haven’t posted for a long time.  Fervor and the repair of self are selfish demons that demand nourishment.  In short I have had nothing to say, or if I had something to say I lacked the will to say it.

In my 81st year I am experiencing a passage, one at the opposite end of birth.  Although I am reasonably healthy, the end is in sight, not actually in my vision, not that I can feel the creeping hand of death, not that I am steeped in fear, but I am vaguely aware of this event called a “passage.”

We do not talk about death, about the end, about the various beliefs surrounding death that bounce around the world like headless chickens and over which people kill each other.  One with a bandana over his head and another with a cross hanging around his neck argue, “It is all right that I kill you because you don’t believe about death the way I do.  And I will kill your children too and not even get my hands bloody because I can kill them by pressing a button in some secret building in America, the land of the free.”  But I have strayed.

We do not talk about death because we are too afraid of it. Perhaps if we talk about it, it might come knocking at our door.  In a way, it is like getting into an airplane without a parachute.  The plane is crowded, shoulder to shoulder with passengers all of whom will be required to exit the plane before the plane lands.  Some read their Bibles, and some pray.  Some make bad jokes and drink a lot of whiskey and some pretend they are not in the airplane.  We are all in this plane together, yet we do not love each other or offer much comfort one to another.  Instead we rob and lie and cheat and threaten each other and we pick the pockets of the poor and watch the old who suffer incomprehensible pain and refuse to help them off the plane as they beg, but insist instead that they suffer all hellish pain to the end.

In this age of science we create ridiculous fantasies on the same level as the Easter bunny and Santa Claus, about life eternal to be endured with angels who have wings in a airy place of joy and endless harp music.  And we scorn those who question such beliefs.  Adult thinking about life or death is not permitted by the spiritual leaders we turn to for wisdom and comfort, for if we do not think like children our spiritual leaders cannot control us with fear and fairy tales. But they too are in denial of the truth:  They too have to exit the plane.  Jump!

I dreamed once that I was walking along the edge of a precipice and slipped off.  In a panic I grabbed the only object available, a small bush that was growing over the edge.  Below me was a canyon many thousands of feet deep and below that the canyon’s rocky bottom.   As I clung desperately to the bush I could feel its roots slipping away.  I had a choice, as we always have choices.  I could either hold on to the bush and scream panic out into the empty landscape until the roots gave way and I fell, or  I could let loose and enjoy the trip down.  I have always wanted to fly.

Argus Joseph Thompson, Insane, on Love

In the fall in Jackson Hole the frost swipes the leaves from the trees like a mad painter stripping wet paint from his canvas.  But this fall the frost had touched only lightly, and the aspens and the cottonwoods had turned translucent and yellow.   The first light stroked the cornices of the Gable Peaks, and the granite rims turned pink, and the snow at the top was also pink.  The leaves of the chokecherries turned the color of tree-ripened peaches, and the mountain ash was red with its clusters of seeds as shiny as red porcelain peas, and the wild geese flew across a Mediterranean sky proclaiming their profound joy, and the early light was aglow on Jenny’s face and on her hair.

“Soon the leaves will fall down,” I said. “It makes me sad.

“The leaves have no regret,” she said.  “It’s only change, and change is beautiful.”

Then it came blurting out: “Jenny, there must be something wrong with you.”

“Of course there’s nothing wrong with me,” she replied still gazing into the early morning light.  The light was light yellow.

“Then why would such a woman as you fall in love with the likes of me?  You’ll have to admit, there must be something wrong.”

She turned to study me.  “Argus, are you feeling bad?”
I tried to explain to her that it was as if she were blind, and being blind had fallen in love with a person who people with eyes would have found unattractive to the extreme.

“You can’t see yourself, Argus.  You can’t see your soul and you can’t see your beauty.”

“You can’t see how crazy things are in here,” I said.  “It’s like the lions are loose inside the circus tent and the people are panicked and running every which way trying to get out.”

“You’re very brave to live in such a place, Argus.”

“No,” I said.  “I am the world’s greatest coward.  And I think I am insane and…”

“Argus,” Jenny said putting her arms around me and looking up into my eyes—she didn’t have to look up very far—”that is what I love about you.  You are who you are and…”

“Maybe I’m crazy, Jenny,” I said.  “Maybe that’s the truth.”

“No, Argus.  You’re not crazy. It’s crazy out there.  Not knowing what’s real is real.”

“My God!” I cried.  “That’s really crazy!”

“Besides, you’re an animal,” she said bearing her teeth and letting out a growl and laughing, and then she grabbed me in ways and in places, and we were like mating tigers, growling and wrestling and screaming, and after that when we lay together in each other’s arms she said, “I love you for many, many deep reasons,” and I felt clear about it for the moment, and I felt beautiful.

That is what falling in love is about, I thought.  It’s when the other shows you your own beauty in such a way that you can, for that magical instant, see it, and you can feel love for yourself.


Argus Joseph Thompson, Insane, on the Environment

Since in these days we have become more interested in the environment I thought it helpful to quote Argus Joseph Thomspon, Insane, on some of his scattered and irrelevant thoughts on the subject.  He begins describing the early light in the mountains of Wyoming.

Ah, the early light is the light!  Nets of light.  Yellow lattices of light.  Great tubs of light spilling on the aspens, and the tips of the sagebrush glow like embers in the blacksmith’s forge, and the jagged edges of the mountains turn molten.

In the early light the air is brittle and snaps at the ears.  Magpies squawk and the marmots shoot chirps so straight and shrill old boulders crack, and squirrels chip—chip, chip like squeaking wagon wheels, and the coyote yaps until the sun warms the tips of his shedding fir.  Then he curls up in the early light and, silent as blue bells, he smiles and slumbers.

In the early light the breath of horses make golden mist, and their long nose hairs are light yellow with frost, and you can see their jaws smashing golden grasses and yellow prairie daisies, and once at such an early time a great bull elk, its rack in velvet, walked among the horses and then disappeared into the web of shadows.

He has a girlfriend named Jenny.  They are searching for a nearly extinct creature named the “Two-toothed snail.” Argus continues in his description:

Through the cabin window the early light touched Jenny and left her ablaze in joy, and she glowed in a strange wisdom that usually only animals and children possess.  Some call it innocence, but it is wisdom all the same.  The forest creatures acquire it from walking with their bare feet touching the earth and from eating from the earth and from being nourished by the earth’s wisdom.   In the early light Jenny’s eyes were like the wild doe—soft and deep and focused on a place beyond my vision.  And I felt such joy, such pain, I thought, if only I were struck in eternal rejoicing like a rock.

“Rocks are happy!”  I cried.  “I can actually feel their happiness!”

Jenny touched my cheek with golden fingertips.  “Yes, rocks are very happy.”  And oh,

I wondered how

Such as she

Could ever love

The likes of me.

But their joy is interrupted by a knowledge that General-O Dynamics, a mammoth multinational corporation, is about to invade the forest and destroy it for lumber to sell to the Japanese.  Some of the trees are four hundred years old.

Then as quickly Jenny fell into deep shadows.  “When they come with their bulldozers and their chain saws and strip the forest bare and muddy the stream and turn the air blue with diesel exhaust, the last of the Two-tootheds will be gone forever.”

“Maybe we’re too late anyway,” I said.

“You must keep your faith on,” Jenny said. “I know they’re up there, Argus.”

I said, “When Judge Hammond hears about what General-O Dynamics is going to do to the forest he’ll stop ’em cold with a TRO as we lawyers call it, a temporary restraining order.”

“Argus, the law doesn’t protect the earth.  The law protects those who destroy the earth.  The Constitution doesn’t protect animals and trees and buttercups.  A corporation can murder fifty million buttercups and not one can sue.”

But the Constitution protects everything.  Great legal minds like Judge Scalia claimed the Constitution even protected unborn human pollywogs in the first trimester, and if the Constitution protected pollywogs then it ought to protect the two-toothed snail as well.

“Judge Hammond is a Reagan appointee, and he understands the right to life,” I said.   “I’ll explain to him about the Great Wheel Up in the Sky and how the two-toothed is a spoke, and. . .”

And then Jenny grabbed me and kissed me for the longest time, and I thought that all that legal talk about TRO’s and constitutional law must have excited her.

When we came up for air I said, “TRO’s are rendered only if there is no adequate remedy at law, and… ” and sure enough she kissed me again.

Dear Friends

I am honored that I sometimes get comments that are pages and pages long.  I just can’t absorb these, nor, probably, can most of you.

I am sorry to delete some of these, but I just have to.  Hope you understand.


The Great Gift of Rejection

Rejection has been the greatest of gifts to me.  Let me make my case:

I was rejected in high school and college from any of the elitist clubs.  Never asked to join a fraternity.  Had no fraternity pin to pin any girl with, which was tantamount in those days of being nobody and nothing.

I never was elected to any student body office.  I was rejected by the Wyoming Bar because initially I failed the bar exam – the first honor student to do so. I was rejected by the people of Riverton for a judgeship and by the University of Wyoming as a law professor.  The voters of Wyoming rejected me when I ran for the United States Congress.  Publishers have rejected some of my books, which made me a better writer.

As I look back on my life I realize that had I been accepted at any of these stops on the play-board of life my life would have been vastly different, and I wouldn’t trade who I have become (whoever that is) for any judgeship, seat in any law school or one in the Congress for that matter.  By having been rejected by those who I wanted to take me I have, involuntarily remained free, which has been the greatest gift of all.  Those who rejected me knew best.  I owe them great thanks, and by this writing acknowledge my debt to them.


The art of caring

Two absolute requirements for a trial lawyer, yes, any lawyer are (1) a conscientious caring for his or her client and (2) the credibility of the lawyer. One cannot exist without the other and absent either, the lawyer is but an actor, usually a poor one, a gross pretender.

I argue that caring is contagious. One cannot ask a jury or a judge to care if the lawyer does not care. We tend to like caring people. That’s because we like to be cared about, and some of us like to be cared for. We tend to trust caring people. I say caring is a disease that can easily be caught. But true caring is sometimes hard to come by. Trial lawyers are asked to care for vicious killers, for people who commit horrible acts of cruelty, persons who do evil things, hurt children and cheat old people out of their life’s savings.

But the accused were once innocent children. As all of us, they began life with a clean, pure unmarked canvas. Much of what is written on the canvas is the cruel psychic graffiti, the ugly splashes, smears and slashes laid on the canvas by those who were parents qualified for that sacred trust only by virtue of their reproductive organs, by those who themselves were never cared for. To that extent, not caring is also a disease – one that is often fatal to a useful and productive life.

I suspect that we could put a wiggly little loving Spaniel puppy in a cage, starve it, poke it with sharp sticks, never pet it, ignore its need for love and sustenance and convert the pup into a vicious attack animal when it was grown. But there still remains in that dog the puppy. 

The metaphor is imperfect and sentimental, but you get the drift. One wonders if we are not placing our condemnation in the wrong place. Ought we not be prosecuting the puppy’s owner?   Extending the argument, are we not often prosecuting the wrong person – the parents, those who were responsible for the child, those who by hate and ignorance molded the child into the killer and the rapist – ought they not be the accused in the case? 

My view is simple:  I see the innocent child first. When I see the monster the child has become I feel sadness at the waste and horror at its consequences, and I feel helpless over my inability to change either the accused or the system that created the accused, a system that now prosecutes him with more of the same – more fear and more hatred. Indeed, hatred and fear are the most contagious diseases of all. But one thing a trial lawyer can do – and must do.  He or she must give the accused, the first victim, a caring and competent defense. 

Sometimes we can do more.

Here is an email I just received from a close friend of mine, Joey Lowe, a fine trial lawyer who is defending a soldier in a court martial proceeding. He is doing more and writes:

Dear Gerry:

Sgt. Nelson was a foster kid from New York inner city. He never knew his father, and his mother died when he was only 8. Family was something that Santa Claus could not provide but the Marine Corps offered and so he enlisted right out of high school. He was in the battle named Operation Iraqi Freedom where he was a combat troop who fought his way from Kuwait all the way up to Baghdad. There he saw some pretty terrible stuff especially at the Battle of Al Nasariyah.

He was then brought back again in 2004 for the worst urban combat fighting that the Marine Corps have participated in since the battle for the City of Hue in Vietnam, and some say Iwo Jima because of the close quarters and hand-to-hand combat necessary to root out the jihadist enemy.

There, he and his unit were taking fire from an entrenched and barricaded enemy. Sgt. Nelson watched helplessly as his best buddy was shot and bled out into the dirt streets because the Marines were pinned down and could not get to him fast enough.

The Marines gained access to the house only to find four military aged males sitting on pillows in this barricaded house pretending to be just innocent residents. Despite the fact that the Marines had dropped leaflets for weeks informing the residents to leave the city and that anyone who stayed behind would be considered enemy combatants, these four males said they were just house sitting even though the house was locked from the outside.

Once the Marines had searched the second story of the concrete house they found all kinds of military assault rifles, AK-47s, RPK which is a Russian Military machine gun, loads of ammunition and spent brass from the bullets they had just shot at the Marines. When the jihadists were confronted with the weapons, the spent brass and the smell of cordite (gun powder) throughout the house they just smiled.

The Platoon commander ordered that the jihadists were to be shot and not captured.

The platoon commander, an officer, was given immunity and never charged, the Sgt.-in-charge was tried and acquitted out in town, the second-in-charge was tried on base and acquitted and now they are trying to convict Sgt. Nelson, mostly because he refused to testify against the first two Marines. The Government put him in federal prison on Memorial day to force him to testify, but he still would not.

We have filed this petition because we believe that the command, through the prosecutor Capt. Gannon, have committed undue influence over the prosecution and according to military courts-martial rules and case law, the case can be dismissed if the judge finds that the acts by the prosecutor would leave the public feeling a loss of confidence in the fairness of the proceedings.

Therefore, we are asking for circulation of this petition for direct proof that the public perceives that these proceedings appear unfair.

All that they have to do is to click on this link and if they fill out a few fields, it will record their support.