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A Fable
© Jerry Buchmeyer, 1980

The leader of an Emerging Nation, the Upper and lower Cannibal Islands(2), being an Enlightened Monarch, became determined to improve the quality of his judicial tribunals. To this end, he sought the opinions of jurists and other such experts in the More Advanced Societies.

Upon arriving in this country he was referred by the Colonial Office to Texas, and to a Very Learned Professor of Law, who had made the practice and procedure of our courts of justice the Study of a Lifetime. Whereupon, the Learned Professor explained to His Majesty that the American (and Texas) system of justice was the Very Best — and the most expensive — ever known to the Civilized World.

One reason for this, according to the Learned Professor, was the Jury System. Difficult questions of fact were referred to a jury of One's Peers, 12 reasonable men and women. Only if their verdict proved to be Entirely Unreasonable was a new trial (with a fresh jury) ordered, at the Expense of the Parties, in order that the Correct Result could be secured. When his majesty asked how 12 reasonable persons could arrive at an Entirely Unreasonable Verdict, the Learned Professor said he would deal with that topic a little later.

But the main reason for the Commendable Quality of Justice, proceeded the Learned Professor, is that our judges are famed for their absolute Fairness and Wisdom and Justice. This was demonstrated, for example by the fact that judges of the criminal courts extend Particular Indulgence to thieves, murderers and The Lot — all of whom are deemed to be Virtuous and Innocent until the contrary is established beyond a reasonable doubt. Further, as was well understood, should a defendant in a civil matter fail to appear when his case was called, the judges in those courts would nevertheless require the proof of the claim with Utmost Strictness — the presumption being that the Plaintiff might well be a fraudulent person.

His Majesty inquired how such Fair & Just & Wise judges were found and selected, and the Learned Professor patiently and kindly expounded: Elections. By Elections! By the traditional, God-Given, constitutionally-protected election of the very best of two judicial candidates, one Republican and one Democratic. By the informed choice of All The Citizens in a free and independent election.

His Majesty was interested in how AII The Citizens knew which particular candidate would be the Most Fair & Wise & Just, since only a few people in the Upper and Lower Cannibal Islands ever had disputes in court before a judge. This, the Learned Professor allowed, was also true in our country — but there was Absolutely No Danger that the choice of AII The Citizens in a free and independent election would be a scoundrel or even less incompetent, and not The Most Fair & Wise & Just, because the Republican and the Democratic parties always selected their Very Best Candidates with The Right Stuff to run for Judicial Office. When His Majesty thought he had read somewhere about the election of the Wrong Don Yarbrough or others of That Ilk, the Learned Professor said he was happy for these questions to be raised so he could discuss them a bit later.

His Majesty wondered about the difference between a Republican judge and a Democratic one: was the Republican mort Fair or Just, and the Democrat more Wise, or were both Equally So? The Learned Professor explained, Ever So Carefully, that there was no difference — No Difference At All(3) — that, indeed, when (as this year in Dallas and in Houston) all of the candidates who won the free and independent elections were Republican, the remaining Democratic judges at the courthouse could choose to Switch Parties, and become Republicans too, so they would not be defeated in the next election for not being Fair & Just & Wise.

His Majesty thought about asking whether a judge who did Switch Parties would become more Fair & Just & Wise, and how long this might last, or why the Republican candidates were more Fair & lust & Wise in one election and the Democratic candidates Were Moreso in the next. But, having heard that our elections were Really Quite Expensive, and not free, His Majesty mentioned Just That.

True, the Learned Professor agreed, this is Very True. But he pointed out that expense of campaigning among All the Citizens causes Absolutely No Problems — because the judicial candidates are permitted to raise The Money Necessary to Win from the lawyers who appear in court and their clients. When His Majesty wanted to know how the Fair & Just & Wise judges who had received money and votes from the lawyers (and clients) appearing before them in particular cases could still render the correct decision Without Regard For Consequences, the Learned Professor said this was for obvious reasons he would subsequently explain. (4)

At this point, His Majesty began to despair of ever being able to find judges in his country who were so Fair & Wise & Just as ours. And, since the Learned Professor seemed to be Running Down, His Majesty thanked him warmly — but observed that, on the whole, the legal system obtaining in the Upper and Lower Cannibal Islands was really Much the Same as that here.

Although his Majesty did select his judges, he was from the Upper Cannibal Islands and therefore took all his judges from that tribe — and this would be the same result obtaining even in a free and independent election, just as in this country. And, should a Rival Leader from the Lower Cannibal Islands take power, then all of the judges he selected would be from that tribe.

The only Slight Difference in the two systems, His Majesty felt, was that in his Emerging Nation all of the Ousted Judges were handed over to All The Citizens to be eaten, being reserved for public consumption on a National Holiday. So His Majesty thought that the practice of letting judges Switch Tribes so they would not be eaten, might be a good one, and at least Worthy of Study, so long as the judges were truly Fair & Wise & Just.

The Moral: Fables are not true. Thank Goodness.


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