« ZurückWeiter »
SELECTION OF JUDGES AND THEIR TENURE OF
PRELUDE. My neighbor-Ding—and I have many things in common—including foibles, follies, hunches and opinions. We get our vegetables from the same garden, our milk and butter from the same cows, our pipes from the same corn cobs and our juleps from the same mint bed. We ride the same horses, hunt together in winter and tell the same fish yarns in season. He is a plain, blunt manhe is no orator as Brutus is—and his name is Mr. Dinglefoogle. He is a political warrior, and, though battle-scarred, is still undaunted.
We were sitting together, talking, a few nights ago on my back porch. The moon gave us light. A whippoorwill was heard in the woods near by. A mocking bird in the top of an oak was singing to its mate, and a Dorothy Perkins rose vine running around the garden fence, in full bloom, looked like a scene from fairy land.
We grew confidential. I said to him: “Ding, I am puzzled.” He asked: "How?”
I told him that the Georgia Bar Association, at its approaching meeting, would discuss the best method of selecting judges and their terms of office; that I had been. requested to act as one of the leaders of the discussion, and, that for certain reasons personal to myself I was somewhat embarrassed about expressing my views.
He replied: “There can be no discussion unless there is difference of opinion. Therefore, it does not make a darn bit of difference what views you express. As to
the terms of office—that is a small matter. No man is indispensable. There are always others superior to the best waiting to take their places. But the best method of selecting judges is a perplexing question. Who is to decide it? As to the lawyers, nine-tenths of them are politicians, and, more than one-half of them aspire to be judge.”
I replied: "What embarrasses me is that I will feel compelled to charge orators and politicians with responsibility for the evils of the present system. Yet I know that the able President of the Association, the distinguished dean of the Harvard Law School, and a whole drove of common lawyers are going to make the meeting sound like a school of oratory—and, as to politicians, I have tried diligently to be one myself—have taken two post-graduate courses in a college of politics. Moreover, I like politicians—think they are good things in their places—but they should hands off when it comes to the judiciary.”
Ding came to my relief. He declared that he had long entertained some opinions about judges that he wished to: express. So he dictated and I wrote, and we argued as the work progressed.
In the manuscript as written there is more or less confusion at times as to who is doing the talking, he or I -but that is merely clerical, is the fault of the scrivener caused by the interchange of ideas and the flow of conversation as we proceeded, and should in nowise prejudice his case.
SPEECH OF MR. DINGLEFOOGLE.
(Read by his request.) Golden Text: Verbosity and wisdom never spout from the same fountain..
Syllabus: Aesop, the Greek fabulist, says, "a mountain was in labor and brought forth a mouse.”
The notorious Davy Crockett of Waggish Memory, when
he essayed first to address his fellow countrymen facetiously remarked that he knew not why it was that he should feel so strangely scared when he well knew that he could easily whip any man in the house. That describes my situation here today exactly—and I know not why, unless it is because this is my first opportunity to express my unbiased opinion of the judiciary.
Gentlemen: It may seem a little queer to you—it does to me—that I should be one of those very few men who would rather hear another man speak than to speak himself. And, how I am swayed by oratory! I evolve, revolve, involve and convolve, with the speaker. I go up and down, in and out, round and round with the speaker, and am as responsive to a speaker's efforts as an emotional son of Ham at an Afro-American campmeeting.
Yet Mr. Dinglefoogle says that all of those men who are known as orators are imitators, actors, shams and humbugs and are a constant menace to the welfare of this Republic.
Speaking of imitators, which reminds me again of plagiarists and orators, there is a short, pretty phrase that I may insert somewhere in this effusion if I find a place where it will fit. I read it somewhere at sometime in some book. I shall not give the writer of it credit therefor. He only expressed the thought first. No doubt the same thought would have occurred to me at some time—maybe this time—had he never uttered it.
In Hamlet's soliloquy something is said about the law's delays and the insolence of office.
Let me delay your proceedings for a little while and exhibit some of the insolence of a non-commissioned innovator.
Shakespeare says: “Lend your ears to all, your voice to few.” Yet, I come to lend my voice to all and my ears to none. Judge Logan E. Bleckley once said, "If a man is pregnant with a speech it is dangerous to suppress him," the inference being he might explode. That remark, however, must not be applicable to me, for I am fully confident that I cannot suggest any plan for selecting judges that will be acceptable to either the bench, the bar or the public.
I could easily express my views as to the best method of selecting judges in a dozen words, but Mr. Dinglefoogle advises me not to do so. He says that though brevity may be the soul of wit, it is completely out of fashion and wholly un-American.
It has been said that America is a land of oratorsthat we meet every condition of weal or woe by making a speech about it. It has been said moreover that we have in America government by oratory and that there are thousands of good Americans who have never yet learned the difference between an orator and a statesman.
We know, you and I, that a statesman is a man who knows what to do next—whereas an orator is a man who only knows what to say next.
Mr. Dinglefoogle says he has often wondered why it is that men of sense and substance never make public speeches, but leave all of that to the air-tanks and windjammers. He says he once heard a man who had never done an honest day's work in his life speak for two hours on a hot day to a large audience about the dignity of labor.
The professional orator masquerades as Sir Oracle, but he is a mere mouth performer. The logic of his situation, like the earth at creation, is without form, and void.
We have here armies of volunteers ever ready to render « verbal service only. Brass supplants brain. Modesty is one of the lost “arts."
Why magnify the orator? Thomas Jefferson was a statesman, but he was no orator. Mr. William Jennings Bryan is an orator, but he is no statesman. Which would you choose to guide the ship of state (both being deadpolitically). Lee and Grant, both great generals, were neither of them orators. Admiral Dewey was a good naval
commander, but he was no speaker. Likewise, Farragut, Admiral Semmes, Lord Nelson, and a host of others. What modern officer gifted with facility of expression has ever won an engagement for his country to celebrate?
Mr. Dapper is an adroit manipulator and an untiring and ubiquitous orator, but he has not the judicial temperament. Mr. Thinker is frank, manly, learned and sensible, but he is a modest and conservative talker. He would make a model judge. Which is the best man for the bench?
Why does it necessarily follow that a voluble politician will make a good judge?
Three of the best lawyers whom I ever knew seldom spoke in the court house. They were men of sense, force and tact, and when they did speak they said something: It was their practice to give the other fellow plenty of rope and they would then remove all entanglements or cut the Gordian Knot with one stroke of the sword. They were masters in the art of fence. They were not appreciated by the gallery because gallery auditors are too indolent or too indifferent to think—anything requiring thought is burdensome to their minds and obnoxious to their souls. If those three men were here today I doubt that you would hear them—for they would know that the method of selecting judges would be devised and determined not by the intelligence of the country, but by the popular agitators and professional politicians.
If we could only make men think! He who could make men think would be a generator of energy and a promoter of wisdom. What today is the greatest menace to the peace, good order and dignity of the State? The orator. Talk about the Reds! Why, discontent, dissatisfaction, class-hatred, socialism, communism, bolshevism and anarchy are by-products of some orator.
When statesmen wisely plan, when government would be conducted on sound business principles, when the civil establishment would be a model of excellence, when the judiciary would be wholly removed from the domain of