had little use for judicial reasoning. In Dickens' Oliver Twist,
he put it rather bluntly: "'If the law supposes that', said
Mr. Bumble, 'the law is a ass a idiot.'"
Mr. Bumble was, understandably, very irritated when he made this
statement. He had been accused of stealing jewelry belonging to
Oliver's mother; and, after making sure his wife had left the room,
he responded: "It was all Mrs. Bumble." Brownlow, the
solicitor, advised Mr. Bumble "that is no excuse" because:
were present on the occasion
and, indeed, you are the more
guilty of the two, in the eye of the law; for the law supposes
that your wife acts under your direction.
Judge John R.
Brown of the Fifth Circuit treats the same subject (judicial reasoning)
with gentle humor.(1) Consider his examples of unintentional satire
occurring when judges found it necessary to define "low tides"
very precisely, or to explain the intricacies of "positive
testimony," or to justify a finding of negligence by a chewing
tobacco manufacturer in a difficult case"
"'If the law supposes that,' said Mr. Bumble, squeezing his
hat emphatically in both hands, 'the law is a ass a idiot.
If that's the law, the law is a bachelor; and the worst I wish the
law is, that his eye may be opened by experience by experience.'"
which are lower than lower low, and therefore lower than mean lower
low, occur at certain seasons and are called extreme low tide
State v. Edwards, 62 P.2d 1094, 1095 (Wash. 1936).
One might add these
cases to Judge Brown's examples: Lightburn & Co. v. First National
Bank, 232 S.W. 343 (Texas Civ. App. 1921)(because of the holding
that it was reversible error to overrule an objection to a question
asking how many boats Columbus has when he discovered America); Egbert
v. Lippman, 104 U.S. 333(1981)(because of reasoning that a patent
covering a corset which had been used by the inventor's wife
for several years before the patent application was filed was
invalid because "the inventor slept on his rights"); City
of Akron v. Barclay, opinsion by Akron, Ohio Municipal Court (Sept.
19, 1978)(holding that "jogging" is not "walking"
as that term is used in a city ordinance prohibiting walking on a
roadway where a side car is provided); Wilson v. Continental Insur.
Co., 274 N.W.2d 679 (Wis. 1978)(holding that the doctrine of res
ipsa loquitur did not apply in a suit against a university by a law
student who allegedly sustained mental injury in a "mind control"
course which the law school allowed a corporation to offer to minority
student because "mental disturbances can occur for a myriad of
reasons, particularly in a student experiencing the rigors of his
freshman year in law school"); and We've Carried the Rich
for 200 Years, Let's Get Them Off Our Backs July 4th Coalition
v. Philadelphia, 414 F. Supp. 611 (E.D. Pa. 1976)(just because
of the name, of course).
"It is a rule of evidence deduced from the experience of mankind
and supported by reason and authority that positive testimony is
entitled to more weight than negative testimony but by the latter
term is meant negative testimony in it's true sense and not positive
evidence of a negative, because testimony in support of a negative
may be as positive as that in support of an affirmative
Blackburn v. State, 254 Pac. 467, 472 (Ariz. 1927)
"We can imagine no reason why, with ordinary care, human toes
could not be left out of chewing tobacco, and if toes are found
in chewing tobacco, it seems to us that someone has been very careless."
Pillars v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., 78 So. 365, 366 (Miss.
At this point, Judge Brown would end by commenting upon the power
attributed to the federal judiciary as reported by a rather
"excited" judge in State of Connecticut v. Nadine Allen,
Vivien Jones and Barbara King ("each members of the world's
oldest and one of the top five professions"), 203 A.2d
248 (Conn. Cir. 1964)(3) so this et cetera will, too.