Much is being made of now disbarred former Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas having compared himself to Mathama Gandhi and Martin Luther King at his ill-advised press conference this past Wednesday in downtown Phoenix.
But what’s there left to wonder about Thomas’s press conference?
It was just another exercise in the indefatigability of hubristic stupidity. Such thoughts occurred to me yesterday while working on more profitably productive matters.
And as I often do outside the presence of clients, I had music playing in the background as I worked. Depending on my mood, I enjoy many musical genres: from Barry to Buble, Celia to Carrie, Ennio to Etta, Jackson to José or Puccini to Prince. But I remain particularly partial to funky “Old Skool R & B“ and of late, to Soul Brother No. 1, James Brown.
The Concise Wisdom of “The Hardest Working Man in Show Business.”
So as I listened to James Brown’s “In a Cold Sweat” from his “20 All-Time Greatest Hits!” collection, I momentarily wondered about Thomas’s defiance in playing the ‘victim card’ after his defrocking. And right about then, by a serendipitous confluence of coincidence came the unmistakable head-boppin’ beat of James Brown’s “The Big Payback.” And of course, how apropos, especially as I heard the hardworking “Godfather of Soul” sing one of my all-time favorite lines, “I don’t know Karate but I know Kah-Rae-Zee.”
Replete with a prodigious amount of quotations as to have done John Bartlett proud, there was even one by Mahatma and how he “reminds us, “A ‘No’ uttered from the deepest conviction is better than a ‘Yes’ merely uttered to please, or worse, to avoid trouble.”
I’m assuming, of course, that Thomas took the time necessary to read all 247 pages and every one of the 74,350 words.
The Virtues of Concision.
And this occasions yet another rumination for those who vouchsafe comments about all those words. It concerns “Legal Writer” Judge Gerald Lebovits’s admonition that judicial brevity is no virtue – – – when too little is decided.
And yet, Judge Lebovits is an advocate of shorter judicial opinions, writing that, “Concision is a virtue.” In his excellent article, “Short Judicial Opinions, The Weight of Authority,”  he stoutly explains his argument, even noting Judge Vann’s famous reproach of a New York Appellate Opinion, “The discussion outran the decision.” See Wells v. Garbutt, 30 N.E. 978, 979 (N.Y. 1892). And also see Judge Ruggero J. Aldisee’s “Opinion Writing and Opinion Readers.”
So I’ve tried and admittedly not always successfully to plug up my own turista-trotting tendencies so that my writing is less in the breach and more in the observance of those hoary sisterly remonstrations.
Which finally brings me back to where I started: Andy Thomas and James Brown and “Mr. Dynamite’s” most telling tune of all that encapsulates what really happens when you run afoul of the rules: “Papa Don’t Take No Mess.”
So forget all the $50 dollar quotations.
Sometimes, it’s a simple as Brown singing:
“Papa didn’t cuss.
He didn’t raise a whole lotta fuss.
But when we did wrong.
Papa beat the hell out of us.”
 Short Judicial Opinions: The Weight of Authority, 76 N.Y. St. B.J. 64 (Sept. 2004
Photo Credit: From Wikimedia Commons, Mohatma K. Gandhi. This work is in the public domain in India and in the public domain in the United States; James Brown by Heinrich Klaffs at Wikimedia Commons and licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.