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Dye Raymimber Grogan?
© Jerry Buchmeyer, 1981

What makes a good trial lawyer? Mr. Dooley knew.(1) And, of course, he’d tell you — with unminced words, beginning rather innocently with “D’ye raymimber Grogan?”

"He was me lawyer in thim days. Whin I had wrongs that I didn’t propose to have trampled on, I took them to Grogan, an’ Grogan presinted thim to th’ coort.

“Dear me, but ‘twas a threet to see an’ hear him. He’d been a pedlar in his youth, an’ ye cud hear his voice as far as th’ Indyanny State line. Whin he talked to th’ fudge ye’d think he was hollerin’ insthructions to a ship-wrecked sailor against th’ wind. I can see him now as he knelt on th’ (lure an’ called Heaven to witness th’ justice iv his cause, or stalked acrost th’ room to where me opponent sat an’ hissed in his ear, ‘Polthroon.’ Whin he spoke iv th’ other lawyer as ‘me lamned Brother’ he done it in such a way that ye expected th’ other lawyer to reach fr a gun.
But Dooley was not just impressed with a golden throat; he would eloquently describe what, un(ortu-nately, is now often known as “body language”:
“An it wasn’t all talkin’ ayether. ‘Twas th’ hardest kind iv exercise. His arms were always in motion. He wud bate th’ table with his fist till th’ coort house thrembled. He wud shake his head till ye’d think he’d shake it off. If he was th’ lawyer in a case of assault an’ batthmy he’d punch himself in th’ jaw an’ fall over a chair to show th’ jury how it happened. If ‘twas a murdhem thrile he’d pretind to shoot himself through th’ heart an’ sink to th’ ground dead with his head in a waste-paper bas-ket an’ his foot in a jumyman’s lap. If ‘twas a breach iv promise suit he’d kneel on th’ flume in front iv a juryman that looked soft an’ beg him to be his. Theme was no kind iv acrobat that ye iver see in a circus that cud give annything to Grogan. An’ whin he’d filled th’ air with beautiful language an’ baten th’ coort room furniture into slivers, he’d sink down in his chair overcome be his emo-
tions, with th’ tears pourin’ fr’m his eyes, an’ give ye th’ wink fm’m behind his han’kerchief.”
Many say that the “meal” trial lawyers, the “Gro-gans,” are a vanishing breed today Well, deja VU: ac-cording to Mr. Dooley, they were already gone in his time (circa 1900):

“He was th’ gr-reat man, an’ whin th’ likes iv him were alive ‘twas some fun goin’ to law. But now, mind ye, if ye consult a lawyer he receives ye in his office, looks out iv th’ window while ye’me tellin’ th’ story iv th’ crool wrong done ye be ye’em neighbor, taps his nose with his eyeglasses an’ says: ‘Ye have a perfectly good case. I advise ye to do nawthin. Ninety-four dollars, please. Oh, if ye insist on thryin’ th’ case, I’ll sind the office boy over with ye. He always reprisints th’ firm in coort.’

. . ‘No, sir, th’ law is a diff’rent profissyon fr’m what it was whin DanI Webster an’ Rufus Choate an’ thim gas bags used to make a mighty poor livin’ be shoutin’ at judges that made less. Th’ law to-day is not only a profissyon. It’s a business. . . . I can’t promise to take a case f’r ye an’ hoot me reasons fm thinkin’ ye’em right into th’ ears iv a lamned judge. I’m a poor speaker. But if ver ye want to do something that ye think ye oughtn’t to do, come around to me an’ I’ll show ye how to do it,’ says he.”



 


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