Cal. Litig. 2014, Volume 27, Number 2

McDermott on Demand: Horsing Around

By Thomas J. McDermott, Jr.

There’s a James Thurber cartoon from the mid-40’s New Yorker in which a group of people are sitting around a card table participating in a séance with a spirit medium. The medium says, "I can’t get in touch with your uncle but there’s a horse here that wants to say hello."

How often do we trial lawyers and appellate lawyers bring in the horse? Even when we have an unbeatable case, a rigorous and refined argument all ready and leading to victory, we can’t keep our mouths shut in court, and we can’t keep our pens quiet while writing a brief. We go on and on before the jury or the judge, eventually leading in even the horse, just in case someone wants a horse.

Why is this? Well, introspective introverts seldom become trial lawyers. It’s either this or the circus. The desire to show off may overwhelm the need to shut up.

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