Monday, August 9, 2010

Now with sports.

I was doing a little research for a future post about the Ponzi scheme orchestrated by Thomas Petters, when I found something you might find interesting.

I can't remember whether we read it in criminal law or criminal procedure but at some point we read United States v. Foster, a case in which the United States Court of Appeals had to determine what the phrase "to carry a gun" meant. The dissent in Foster closes with a quote from Gavvy Cravath. Cravath was a Justice of the Peace and City Judge for Laguna Township California. His jury instruction for stealing was supposedly this:
Ladies and gentlemen of the jury. The defendant is charged with stealing $50 from Mr. Jones, I certainly hope that you have lived long enough to know what stealing means without my spending a couple of hours telling you the fine legal distinctions in the law on theft. Stealing means exactly what it says. The district attorney has the responsibility of proving that the defendant is guilty of theft beyond a reasonable doubt and to a moral certainty. If he hasn't carried that burden, you are to acquit the defendant. You have heard the evidence and are the only ones who can decide who is telling the truth and who is not. Now retire, deliberate and come to a decision.
Anyway, the thing that struck me in re-reading the case is that Judge Cravath was, as the dissent puts it "the first acknowledged home run king before Babe Ruth." That doesn't really put Judge Cravath's accomplishments in the right light. He led the National League in home runs, six times. It took 32 years for Ralph Kiner to beat that accomplishment. After he left baseball (his final season was with the Minneapolis Millers), he was elected judge despite never going to law school or, apparently, practicing law. Maybe recently retired four-time home run champ Ken Griffy Jr., will take a similar post-baseball career path.

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