Blog Posts


Unreasonable Dicta -- Or Why Herring Stinks

Much in the law turns on the mental state of the the parties involved in a dispute. Three mental states matter both in terms of the criminal law and civil rights law: intent, recklessness and negligence. Confusing these can yield disastrous consequences.
Today's United States Supreme Court...

The Vanishing Trial: Are Reasonable Minds To Blame?

We have 24 cases ready for trial in my firm. About half of these are civil cases, and most of those are suits against state actors accused of violating a person's civil rights. That might not sound like a lot to you, but consider that in order to get on that list, a case must either be at a point...

Truth, Lies and Focus Groups

I start trial in about ten days. The facts are gruesome. A mother driving home with her three young children is involved in a head-on collision with another car. Two of the mother's children are killed on impact; she and the surviving child are seriously injured. The driver and passenger of the the...

To Plead Or Not To Plead?

It was a close call this morning. My client was accused of sexually abusing a minor by digitally penetrating her vagina. The child was five at the time. She claims it happened; my client denied it. There was no physical evidence to corroborate the child's claim. So we prepared for trial.
On...

Confession Good For The Soul? Perhaps. But It Is Hell In A Courtroom

The following is an excerpt from Clarence Darrow in Hell, a play written by Kenan Heise and Dan Heise. In this scene, Darrow is accompanied by none other than Dante. Darrow has refused to confess his sins at the gates of Hell. He disputes now with Charon the need for such a confession. Indeed, he...

I Am A Dope: Classic Ad Hominem Attack

I own a small firm. I have four associates, and one lawyer who is of counsel to my firm, Karen Torre. Karen's a great lawyer, but we rarely see eye-to-eye on politics. The other day, she decided to tell the world I am a moron. I pass the column along as an example of bad rhetoric: Call it a failed...

The Power of Parables

"When a metaphor contains a radically new vision of world it gives absolutely no information until after the hearer has entered into it and experienced it from inside itself. In such cases the hearer's first reaction may be to refuse to enter into the metaphor and one will seek to translate it...

Query: Learning More About the ICC

I just learned that the University of Connecticut School of Law is starting an International Human Rights Clinic in the spring semester. The clinic will be taught by Professor Mark Janis. I have applied for permission to audit the course. It strikes me as a unique opportunity to learn about...

Child Witnesses

This will be a funky Sunday. Nothing will change that. Tomorrow morning I will cross examine a six-year-old girl. She contends my client touched her where she should not have been touched. I know what the issues are in this case, but I have never enjoyed the cross examination of a child.
Under...

The Kingdom of God?

I had a hard time sleeping the other night. It started around midnight, long after my wife and all the animals had gone to sleep. Indeed, I had drifted off at 8:30 or so. We are early to bed and early to rise, although I steal several hours in the dead of most nights to read, the purest of solitary...

© Norm Pattis is represented by Elite Lawyer Management, managing agents for Exceptional American Lawyers
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