Thursday, April 24, 2008

On Dad and the Law--Part III

Having failed to achieve the dream of Merrill K. Gee and Associates, Dad launched into the idea of really making a go of it as a lawyer, i. e. being successful in the way that his uncle, Wesley Merrill and some of the other lawyers in town were successful. One thing he looked to to help him in that venture was The Bar. Every so often The Bar would have what they called a Convention. Apparently, all the lawyers who were in The Bar would get together and discuss better and bigger and more effective ways to sue people. They would always have a speaker who apparently was better at doing what lawyers do than almost any other lawyer who would talk to everyone in The Bar in a big meeting. At any rate, Dad was always very excited when in was time for a Bar Convention.

Of course, I felt keenly about Dad's success, so I would occasionally make suggestions. The one I remember best was I suggested that he get into the same line of work as Perry Mason, who seemed, at least, to win a lot of cases and seemed like everyone admired him. My very first job was to clean Dad's office and I suggested he change his little sign which read "Gee & Hargraves, Attorneys at Law" to "Gee & Hargraves, Criminal Lawyers". This I felt sure could not help but bring in the bacon so to speak and in no time at all my dad would be as widely admired as Perry Mason. But Dad nixed the idea right off. For one thing, he said, he could not put out such a sign. Doing so would land him in hot water with The Bar, which did not allow the advertising of a specialty in any form, not even on a sign. He could, of course, accept only criminal cases if he chose to do so, but he could not put out a sign saying such. When I asked him how Perry Mason got away with it, he only responded rather(flipantly, I thought) that he wasn't sure how Perry Mason got away with a lot of things he did.

Well, in a way, he got a chance to find out. It turns out that a Bar Convention was coming up in Sun Valley and The Bar had invited Raymond Burr to speak. Dad was really excited, which surprised me, because, of course, I could see through that in about 30 seconds. Lawyers, who, for the most part, as I said, were lawyers only because they couldn't think of anything more worthwhile to do after they finished college, and, therefore, not the sharpest tacks on the board, were going to be duped by The Bar into thinking they were hearing from Perry Mason, when, in fact, they would only be hearing from the man who pretended to be Perry Mason on television, but I was surprised that my own father, who could have thought of any number of things to do after he finished college and only went into The Law because he loved it, seemed as gullible as the rest. Well, anyway, he trotted off to Sun Valley, and, sure enough, when I asked him about when he got back, he told me that he thought it had not been particularly helpful, which, as I said, I could have told him in the first place and saved him the trip.

But after that, I began to watch Perry Mason with a more critical eye and I decided that I was glad that Dad didn't want to be like him. For one thing, Perry Mason had to handle a big major case every single week. What with preparing for the case, telling his private detective, Paul Drake, what to do, and studying in the law books really hard to find new things to object to, he could hardly have any time for his family--which, in his case, was probably ok because he didn't seem to have one, but I wouldn't have liked it with Dad because he wouldn't even have had time to take us for our yearly trip to Yellowstone, which we sometimes did even twice a year. Of course, I finally figured out why Perry Mason had to work so hard--he was famous and respected and all that, but he almost never made any money. The reason was that he always had clients who were very beautiful but they were almost always in need of money. That was their problem. They needed money and beautiful girls--at least, beautiful girls in Los Angelos, are always in some way associated with millionaires in some way i. e. they come into the bar where they work, or they are their secretary, or even their wives--but, at any rate, they always know these millionaire guys really well, but the only way they can get any of their money--even if they're married to them--is to murder them, which, of course, the District Attorney, Hamilton Burger, always thinks they did. (As an aside, I think if I were a millionaire, I would avoid Los Angelos like the plague, because in Los Angelos at least one millionaire, probably more, are murdered every week--I say probably more, because it only stands to reason that Perry Mason would not be involved with every single case involving a murdered millionaire). Of course, Hamilton Burger is so busy preparing cases and studying law books to figure out ways to overcome Perry Mason's objections, that he never learns anything from experience. You would think, for example, that he would eventually learn that just because a beautiful girl is desparate for money and the only way she can ever get any is to murder a millionaire, does not necessarily mean that she did, in fact, murder the millionaire, especially if it turns out that she is Perry Mason's client, but he never does--learn that, that is. But his chief investigator, Lt. Tragg is no better. He always thinks that because he happened to stumble into the murdered man's house and finds the beautiful girl standing over the murder man with a smoking gun, means that she killed him. Of course, he does have the excuse, that on the previous week, it was not a gun, it was a lead pipe, and the week before that it was a knife, and before that, a candlestick, so that is understandly confusing, and leads him, because the weapons are different, that because the beautiful girl is standing over the just-murdered man with the weapon in her hand, that she did it. Of course, the one who always does it is someone we hardly know, like the office manager, who happened to see the millionaire kissing his(the office manager's) wife's sister's best friend's milk man's niece, and is, therefore, understandly so outraged that he feels the only course open to him is to murder the cad. But, of course, we don't know any of this until Perry Mason points it out after having been told about the niece--and two dozen or so other facts, discovered by his men--by Paul Drake, in the middle of the trial when he whispers all these facts in Perry's ear right after he has made an objection--Perry is always at his sharpest after he has made an objection. But, of course, only Perry knows that it is the fact about the niece that is really the only relevant fact. Well he accuses the office manager, who promply confesses but everyone is very simpathetic, when they discover about the millionaire having kissed the niece and all. But the sad part is, of course, that in the last part, after Perry explains how he figured out about the niece, there is never enough time for him to explain, but you know it to be the case, that because he proved that the beautiful girl did not murder the millionaire, she doesn't get any of the money she would have gotten if she had and, therefore, he will have to try another case next week with the hope that there will be something besides enhanced reputation in it for him, which, of course, there never is.

Well, the point of all that rather lengthy digression, is that I was glad that Dad didn't become another Perry Mason. But he did attend one Bar Convention, about which he was very excited, and from which he was sure he had gotten the insight he needed to really make it big. But I will have to tell about that later.

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