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Read an Excerpt
"The Honeymoon Knight," Lemann describes how two honeymoons took a wrong turn down one of New Orleans's mean streets.
Janet Roby and Gregory Kress were married on St. Valentine's Day in Erie, Pennsylvania. Greg was a handsome young man who worked in his family's business as a promoter of a "personality development" system that had been invented by his father. The system was designed to motivate individuals, and Greg spent a lot of time marketing the program to social welfare agencies, once even spending eight weeks in an Alabama prison to teach the program to the inmates. He was, in the words of his father, "a traveling motivational therapist." His bride Janet was a pretty, petite blonde, whose father was an aide to the city's mayor. After the wedding, the young couple planned to fly to Hawaii, but a thick fog descended over Erie that night, causing a cancellation of all flights and, instead, Janet and Greg drove to New Orleans for their honeymoon.
Young, happy, carefree, and in love, the Big Easy was the place to be the moonlit river, the quaint streetcars, the lovely mansions, the romantic French Quarter, the city that care forgot. But New Orleans can be unkind to strangers. The Big Easy on one street; the Big Killer around the corner. Janet and Gregory would take the wrong turn. . . .
In Chapter Eighteen, "The Lone Knight," Lemann provides an anecdote about one of his law partners.
We put O'Grady away in a Lafayette hospital. When he finished the program, Maddie, who had been commuting daily to visit him, went to pick him up, telling him there were only three ground rules to their new life together: first, no drinking; second, no lying; and third, no women. Surprisingly,O'Grady complied with the second condition by telling her that the other two were deal-breakers and that, in any event, he was moving in with a woman he had met at the hospital. Maddie drove him to the home of the new girlfriend. . . .
In Chapter Twenty-two, "The Fallen Priest," Lemann describes a courtroom scene.
The press and public opinion are an important part of the criminal justice system and are becoming increasingly important with the proliferation of media outlets. It has been suggested, for example, that the O.J. Simpson defense team attempted to inoculate the jury pool by generating favorable pre-trial stories about Mr. Simpson. Much the same way, politicians attempt to spin a particular slant on a story. Dragon slayers must carefully control the kind and the quantity of information available about a defendant.
The criminal case was allotted to Judge Fred Shaw at Tulane and Broad. Judge Shaw was crazy. Now lest I be misunderstood, he had good reason to be crazy and he may not have always been crazy, but crazy he was. His life had been Sophoclean. Although he was married with a family, his true love had been his mistress. After a twenty-year relationship, he finally had left his wife and family to marry the mistress, only to have her suddenly become ill with a rare blood disease. While at her bedside in the hospital, he had suffered a major heart attack and, refusing to stay in Intensive Care, he had been given a bed in her room. She died in his arms. Eventually, Judge Shaw reconciled with his wife and moved back home with his family. Then one night, the house burned to the ground and his wife and only daughter perished in the fire. He was left with only one surviving child, an alcoholic son who had accidentally set the fire in the first place.
Pandemonium reigned in Judge Shaw's courtroom. The alcoholic son had his own desk and minute clerk located right next to his father's bench and minute clerk and he functioned as a sort of deputy judge, interrupting and correcting his father at will during the course of judicial proceedings. Now as long as the Judge and the alcoholic son were in sync, things went pretty smoothly but, more often than not, all hell broke loose when, for example, the Judge sustained an objection and the alcoholic son overruled it simultaneously.
The pace was also crazy. Judge Shaw and the alcoholic son took their respective seats at eight o'clock in the morning and it was not uncommon for them to adjourn for the day an hour and a half later. In earlier years, when the Judge was in his prime and the alcoholic son was too young to preside, the Judge had consistently tried as many as three jury trials a day as one jury deliberated, another was selected. And court usually wouldn't adjourn until three o'clock the following morning. In short, Dino wouldn't stand a chance with Judge Shaw or, for that matter, with the alcoholic son. . . .