Thursday, April 26, 2012

"...smiles, coquetry, shrugs, sauciness..."

I recently moved into a new office that has a small "library" in the common area. This library has a number of very old books in it. One of them is called Cross-Examination of Witnesses, first published in 1929. Since I was preparing for a trial, I decided I'd see if this tome had any useful nuggets in it.

Well, not exactly.

My favorite part so far is Chapter 13: THE FEMALE WITNESS. The entire chapter is vintage gold, so it is difficult to pull out the best passage. This will have to suffice:
Apropos of the woman witness, Frederic T. Harward, of the Detroit Bar, has this to say:
"That man who cross-examines a woman faces indeed, a delicate task. They are quicker-witted than men and some of them seem to know intuitively what your next question is going to be and have the answer ready before you can ask the question. Then, too, they use every weapon in their armory, smiles, coquetry, shrugs, sauciness, and if you press them too closely, they will resort to tears; then too they always have as a last resort, the ability to faint at a convenient and dramatic time. Yes, he is brave indeed who engages in such combat with a woman. ..."
And so on. One marvels that this is the first I've ever heard of Mr. Harward, of the Detroit Bar, given the brilliance he displays in this passage.

Another chapter, entitled "THE HUMOROUS AND RIDICULOUS," seeks to demonstrate the use of humor in cross-examination, but it does so almost exclusively with long quotations of the cross-examination of "colored" witnesses—with the witness's dialect dutifully transcribed, as in this hilarious answer:
A.     "I undahstand you mean like dis heah; foh me to tell you how fah he would have to go when he was going at de rate of speed ah said he was going, until he got to da place wheah he was at."
I have read this passage several times and still have no idea why it is supposed to be humorous or ridiculous. They say that the past is an undiscovered country, or something like that.

That said, overall I find this to be a very humorous book. If you ever find yourself in a collection of very old law-related books—in other words, any law library—seek it out!


  1. I certainly hope we have the opportunity to use "sauciness" as a label again. According to the website The Political Graveyard, Mr. Harward was from Wayne County, Michigan and a Democratic candidate for Michigan's 3rd circuit judge in 1923, 1935, and 1941.

    A man of the same name can be found at as one of the authors of "Ashton Power Wrecker Equipment Company, Incorporated, a Michigan Corporation, Appellant, v. the State of Michigan and the Department of Revenue of the State of Michigan" a paperback available at Amazon.

  2. Hmm, catchy title. I wonder if that was just a case that Mr. Harward argued in front of the Supreme Court, the materials of which was included in this "Making of the Law" collection ... Clicking on the "additional contributors" link at the amazon page seems to back this theory up.


Comments on posts older than 30 days are moderated because almost all of those comments are spam.