Of Amateur Lawyers, Twitter Pundits & Holy Fools

I like to use the Magritte caveman image when writing about stupidity and cluelessness. There’s a lot of both in the air this week, same as it ever was. I used to have to search out stupidity and cluelessness, but it can be found everywhere on the internet.

I’m on the record about amateur lawyers. They drive me nuts and that goes for reporters covering trials too. Vanity Fair’s Gabriel Sherman is a reporter I respect and admire but the courtroom isn’t usually his beat. In a futile attempt to make like Dominick Dunne, he’s covering the Ghislaine Maxwell trial. Celebrity trials can make even the smartest reporter look like a fool.

Sherman’s report has a breathless, clickbaity title: The Prosecution Is Fumbling Its Case Against Ghislaine Maxwell.

Maybe so but one of Sherman’s stated reasons is amateur lawyering at its most amateurish:

Before the trial opened, I counted myself among the pessimists who expected the case wouldn’t provide a full accounting of Epstein’s alleged crimes or expose the powerful men that allegedly participated in his depraved lifestyle. My view has held throughout the trial. I was dismayed, for instance, that prosecutor Lara Pomerantz’s opening statement ran a short 35 minutes (roughly 10 minutes less than the government’s opening argument in the Elizabeth Holmes fraud trial, for comparison).

Sherman is confusing quantity for quality. In my experience, less is more when it comes to opening arguments. Jurors get bored when lawyers drone on and on and on. The opening argument is supposed to set the table for the trial to come. Long-winded openings can be self-indulgent and irritating to the jury. Short and punchy is usually better.

LA Law was a big hit teevee show when I was a law student. Several of my professors commended to our attention the snippets of arguments on the show. One prof said something like this: “Arguing a case is like show biz, always leave them wanting more. ”

Sherman *could* be right in his assessment of the Maxwell trial BUT not because of a short opening argument.

Our first musical interlude is a McCartney song with a Lennonesque bite:

I’ve had my share of fun mocking the Twitter famous. Some style themselves as influencers. They’ve never influenced me.

Other Twitter personalities style themselves as pundits. Some like to throw Nazi analogies around. Few have any idea what they’re talking about. This is a good example:

Uh, Ron, Call I call you that? Hitler was not exactly a fan of Judeo-Christian civilization. As to the Judeo part, remember the Holocaust?

Hitler was also hostile to Christianity. His boy Himmler wanted to create a whole new religion centering on his weird Aryan fantasies and even weirder Fuhrer.

One more thing, his first name was spelled A-D-O-L-F.

Being Twitter famous doesn’t ensure that you know what you’re talking about. The opposite is often true, right Ron?

For our second musical interlude we have an original and a cover:

Holy fools were a thing in the Middle Ages. They seem to be making a comeback in the thespian set.

There’s a takedown of actor Jeremy Strong in The New Yorker. Strong plays Kendall Roy on the brilliant HBO show Succession. I think of Succession as a dark comedy with tragic overtones. The title of Michael Schulman’s piece says it all: On “Succession,” Jeremy Strong Doesn’t Get the Joke.

I started off sympathetic to Strong, then the holy fooleries began to pile up and I had to laugh at his excesses. I concluded that he’s so good as Kendall Roy because he’s playing himself. In a word: cringeworthy.

Method actors, can’t live with them, can’t live without them.

I originally planned to call this post Finally Friday after the George Jones song. That’s why he gets the last word.

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