Thursday, May 1, 2008

On Dad and the Law--Part VI

There was one lawyer in our new neighborhood that Dad admired, even envied, and that was Jayson Holladay. The reason was that Jayson never went to court. "He has never had to go to court in his whole career. How on earth has he managed. He always gets his clients to settle out of court." Of course, that wasn't actually 100% true. Sometimes, and even Dad admitted this to be the case, after I started dating Jayson's extremely attractive daughter, Dawn, and found out from questioning her that it was the case, i. e. it was the case, and it had to go to court. But even then, when it went to court, that is, Jayson didn't go with it. He would hire another attorney to take it to court. But although, my dad couldn't figure out how Jayson did it, I figured it out without any trouble at all, because, long before I, or for that fact any of my friends, thought that Dawn was attractive at all--in fact, we wished that she and all the other girls would stop coming to church altogether, because we figured that if no girls came to church, they could never make us have dancing lessons again. At any rate, when we were of that frame of mind, which is the frame of mind we were of from the time we were about 10 until we were 15 or so, we pretty much that none of the girls who came to church were much to look at, but after I turned 16 or so they all started to look better, and Dawn especially so, but I digress. Anyway, long before Dawn started to be so pretty and all, we all admired Jayson because he was such a wonderful tennis player and had such a good tan. Of course, working on Ed Bullock's farm, I had a pretty good tan myself, as did most of the other boys at church, since most of us worked on the farm, but none of us had as good a tan as Jayson, because we stopped working on the farm as soon as school started in the fall, but Jayson didn't stop playing tennis. Of course, the other reason we envied Jayson is that he managed somehow to convince his wife that playing tennis was more important than going to church--or, at least, most of church. He would come and teach the Priesthood class (for those of you who went to Gary Hoff's Congregational Church, that is the equivalent of the Men's Auxiliary), and then before Sunday School, he would simply go out to the parking lot, jump into his little sports car, not even bothering to open the door, just jumping directly into the car, thus practicing in case he should ever lose a tennis match and have to jump over the net to congratulate an opponent, which he did not have to do often, if at all, but as I said, he liked to keep in practice by jumping straight into his sports car, and driving off to spend the rest of the day playing tennis, leaving most of the other men in the congregation looking enviously after him while their wives looked very sternly at them and sort of sent the signal, "Don't even think about it!" I often wondered how it went when Jayson had to teach his lesson on "Keeping the Sabbath Day Holy". It seemed to me that someone would very slyly and with very smug expression on his face, after Jayson had said that you should never shop or go to the movies on Sunday, say something like, "Or play tennis!" But, of course, in our church we were supposed to be big on obeying the Golden Rule, which, I suspect, in Jayson's class, at least, probably meant essentially, "I won't mention your weakness, if you don't mention mine."

At any rate, Jayson was very good at tennis, if not the best in the state of Idaho, among the very best. He even had his own court, and so when Dad would wonder out loud how he could get his clients to always settle out of court, I got to thinking about it and in my usual fashion, I figured it out quicker than anything. A client would come up to Jayson and say, "Mr. Holladay I want to sue my neighbor (or best friend, or employer, or whoever people always want to sue) Mr. Smith and I want you to be my lawyer in the suit." (Lawyers call a suing case a "suit", a practice that goes back to medieval times when instead of going to court when you wanted to sue someone, you donned a suit of armor and went after the chap with a lance or a spear or a sword, like in Ivanhoe, and so they started calling what you did a "suit" because you needed one in order to do it, but I digress). Well, after his client said that, Jayson would say, "I'm very glad you have decided to sue Mr. Smith. I have felt myself for a long time that he deserved to be sued so I will be glad to represent you in the case." (This, by the way, is a good way to tell whether you have a good lawyer. If he says, "I want to be your lawyer.", he isn't, but if he says, "I will be glad to represent you in this case" you know he paid very good attention at law school). But then Jayson would add, which no other lawyer in town would, "why don't we discuss your suit over a game of tennis?" Well, they would go out to Jayson's house and get on his tennis court and after they had hit the ball back and forth in a friendly fashion and Jayson had actually let them return a ball or two so that they thought they might actually do ok in this game, he would say, "Let's start the game and while we play I'll discuss what we should do." Jayson would then begin playing his best, which meant that his client was doing little other than chasing balls, which can get very tiring in a hurry. All the while he was doing this, Jayson was also explaining why the very best way to handle the "suit" was to settle it out of court. Well, after a couple of games, the client would cry "Uncle" (this is a sophisticated way for those of us who are well read to say essentially, "I give up.") But then Jayson would explain that if you once started playing tennis, the law required that you play at least two sets, or even three, if the first two resulted in a tie, which, of course, in Jayson's case, it almost never did, but anyway, the client, would get very discouraged, having chased so many balls and being, therefore, very tired and all, and would say, "Isn't there any way we could legally stop sooner?" and he(or she, and I don't mean to be politically incorrect, but it was especially true if it were "she") would say this in a most pathetic and even desparate tone of voice. "Well," Jayson would say triumphantly, "I think I can find a legal loophole to the two-set law, if you agree to settle your case out of court." And that is how he did it.

Of course, this strategy didn't always work. If the client turned out to be pretty good at tennis or in such good shape that they didn't mind chasing balls, they might insist on taking the case into court, in which case, Jayson had no choice but to hire another lawyer. Dad always wondered why he never hired him. Generally, he hired someone like Rolly Phillips father. I figured that out too. To understand it you have to realize that Rolly Phillips was far and away the best student in my class at Pocatello High School. She was, using the very sophisticated expression that some of us who went in for sophisticated expressions were want to use, "one smart cookie". Whenever she was in a class, you knew that she would get the highest grade in the class, with the possible exception of Lowell Turner, who would occasionally give her a bit of a run for her money. Of course, we might as well be up front about this, being the smartest in the class in subjects like Math, English, History, and Chemistry, was no great shakes in Pocatello, because no one (or, at least, almost no one) in Pocatello cared about those subjects. This was especially true of chemistry. I know this because I was the first in my class in chemistry--my father having bought me a genuine "Chemcraft Jr. Chemistry Set when I was in 7th grade. But, of course, neither Rolly nor Lowell was in my chemistry class, in which case, I'm not sure the chemistry set would have helped all that much. But anyway, almost no one cared much about those things. As further proof I point out that the English teachers awarded an award called the English Council of Teachers Achievement Award for writing an essay, but I was the runner-up winner (I'm not sure where Lowell was on the day we had to write that essay) because I was the only one in the class who spell Achievement correctly. And, I must admit it was a bit of luck. I was debatting for a long time whether the rule was "i before e except after c" or "e before i except after y" but, fortunately, when I finally decided to flip a coin over it, I came up with the correct answer. It would not surprise me if Rolly even actually spelled all the words in her essay correctly. But there is one subject about which everyone in Pocatello cared, and cared a great deal, and that was Physical Education, which we, in Pocatello, spoke about so frequently that we even had a handy abreviation for it. We called it "PE". Well anyway, when Rolly gave the valedictorian speech at our graduation (and by the way, she gave a wonderful speech, much better than the CEO, despite all his money and experience and all), but, as I said, Rolly was very smart), they announced that she had gotten a 4.0 grade average, and we knew there was something terribly fishy afoot. Now if I was not fast enough or strong enough to pass all the requirements to get an "A" in PE, in spite of having worked so hard and lifted so many heavy hay bales on Ed Bullock's farm, you know--everyone knew--that there was absolutely no way in (well, as I said earlier, you know where there is no way you can do something) that Rolly Phillips could do it. Of course, (and I have to make this perfectly clear), this was different times, so none of us boys--and I do say None of us--knew exactly what went on in girl's PE because we were all too much the gentlemen to ever peek, or even ask, but we did know that whatever it was, Rolly couldn't do it--not well enough to get an "A" or even a "B" for that matter. For one thing, whatever you might say about Pocatello girls, there were an awful lot of them that very very fast out of the chute and very strong. I know that they were strong for a fact because I have many friends (I not having learned this personally you understand, but I had friends who told me) who learned the hard way that when you kissed a Pocatello girl when she didn't want to be kissed, you knew she was very strong indeed. Now all of us knew, and we knew it perfectly well, that if you kissed Rolly Phillips when she didn't want to be kissed, the only thing you had to worry about was being sued by her father for Breach of Habeus Corpus, or whatever lawyers sue boys for who kiss their daughters when they don't want to be kissed. At any rate, when Rolly gave her speech, she sounded very nervous in spite of the fact that it was a wonderful speech (ask anyone who was there--and there were a good many, relatives being so proud and all of their kids having done so well in PE), and we all knew that she was nervous because she knew that we all knew that there was some real hanky-panky about that PE grade and most of us assumed that Mr. Phillips had bribed her PE teacher.

Anyway, I bring all this up, because it explains why Jason Holladay gave his cases to Rolly's father. He undoubtedly came up to Jayson with tears in his eyes and said, "Jayson, is there any cases you have that you can't settle out of court." and he responded with, "As a matter of fact there is. Mr. Jones wants to sue Mr. Smith, who certainly deserves to be sued, but Mr. Jones being as how he was runner-up in the state tennis championship last year, refuses to settle the case out of court." And then Rolly's father, (Mr. Phillips to you if you didn't come in as runner-up in the English Coucil of Teachers Achievement Award) said something like, "Is there any way you could give me the case. I have to bribe Rolly's PE teacher so she can get a 4.0 and therefore, I need the money.) Well, I'm sure, what with teaching classes in church and all, that Jayson was not normally in favor of giving bribes, but he recognized that in this case it was a worthy cause, so Dad didn't get the case.

At any rate, Dad, not being much in the way of tennis, never did figure out how to settle all of his cases out of court, and as we will see, if I get around to the writing the last part of his experiences, it was getting very discouraging for him.

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