Contemplating the season of falling leaves, laws and politicians

It's been a good, mild summer and now it's fall. As the year wanes, summer tries to hold on, but everyone knows colder days are coming. The fall is always the best time for contemplation. Of course, that's not necessarily true for clients. My cases usually consist of corporations fighting each other. Clients who think they're right - and that's every client - don't exactly understand, or choose to contemplate, the other side's perspective. It was an oddity, but this summer my cases starred mostly individuals fighting with each other. The emotions in those personal cases make corporate clients' attitudes look rather sedate. It's like the difference between Don Trump and Ben Carson. When it is individuals who are fighting in court, they really don't like each other. It is personal, and their disdain towards opposing counsel is often extreme as well. A client recently said to me, "I went on that fancy law firm's website and they do a lot of talking about integrity. How can they say such hypocritical things when they're representing that so-and-so?" He didn't say so-and-so. I told my client they had a job to do and probably believed what their client was telling them. He told me there was no chance of that.

The truth is, when you're involved in death match litigation which impinges upon an individual's integrity and sense of self, it's not very easy for the litigants to see much of anything from the opponent's side of the fence. Legal fees get pretty high, pretty fast, when litigants feel their honesty and personal worth are at issue. When they have money, as most people do in these types of grudge matches, the costs are high in a lot of ways. As one example: they might not take the time to enjoy the crisper days of late September.

I recently observed that lawyers in these cases were attending depositions in polo shirts and recreational shoes! Of course, I'm not old-fashioned, but that still disturbed me. I'm hoping when the weather gets colder, these attorneys will start dressing better. There's nothing like a Harris Tweed, a corduroy vest and a bow tie in the autumn. My fear is these attorneys are going to show up for our October depositions in flannel shirts and Doc Martins.

Approaching autumn during a season of presidential primaries brings its own variety of conflict and contemplation. During the summer, political issues already collided with legal issues, and they will continue to do that as the leaves start to fall. Prominently featured, so far, is former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's brush with the law in respect to classified (or not) communications on her personal email server. When former State Department employee, turned Clinton personal server maintainer, Brian Pagliano, decided to take the fifth, Hillary's numbers started dissolving faster than the piles of autumn leaves I remember my father burning at the curb in front of our little suburban house before such terrible activities were deemed by local municipalities and Smokey the Bear to be inadvisable.

Then, of course, once the highest court of our land declared that gay marriage was constitutionally protected, Kentucky's Rowan County Court Clerk Kim Davis declared that she had it upon an even higher authority that Supreme Court law should not be followed. She named that authority, "God," a fellow (she does refer to him as male) with whom she seems to have close contact. "God's law" is certainly a concept for lawyers and theologians alike to drink mulled wine, sit in leather chairs, and contemplate. Needless to say, such legal issues take on a different meaning in a campaign year. Some presidential candidates like Mike Huckabee and Ted Cruz (after first consulting with their supreme being, which may be clerk Davis' God, Fox News or the ghost of Ronald Reagan) sided with Ms. Davis, declaring that the Supreme Court's decision was not the real law, and they were okay with not following it.

We can already see looming issues on the fall horizon. There is the Iran nuclear deal, the deteriorating economic situation in China, Trump's claim that the Chinese and Mexican politicians are a lot smarter than ours, and the ever-disturbing issues over police being shot or doing the shooting. Thankfully there will be positives as the fall unfolds, like cheaper gas, college football, the aforementioned tweed jackets and the season of the World Series. Meanwhile, in South Africa, a potentially new species of man-apes was uncovered by a spelunker. It appeared that a clan of these early evolutionary entries squeezed through a 7 ½-inch crack to get into a cave where they died (probably contemplating why they squeezed into the cave in the first place). It's rumored they were lineal predecessors of the current cast of presidential candidates, but that's not for sure. What is for sure, is that some of our current group of presidential candidates will have fallen away long before the last leaves fall from the trees.

Under Analysis is a nationally syndicated column. Mark Levison is a member of the law firm Lashly & Baer. You can reach the Levison Group in care of this paper or by e-mail at

© 2015 Under Analysis L.L.C.

Published: Fri, Sep 25, 2015


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