Pamela Buchmeyer 2017-05-30 03:14:20
The Judge’s Daughter: Go Fish! Hello from Florida! Holy mackerel, my spouse gets a lot of job transfers. That’s why Florida has become our newest second home. You may have noticed from my writer’s bio that we’ve also lived in Cleveland and Chicago. Florida is better—down here there’s never a need to shovel sunshine. So I’m soaking it all up as a new “affiliate” member of the Palm Beach County Bar Association. I’ve found that Florida lawyers are extra friendly and extra funny, too. A few great stories and vignettes follow about island law and lawyering on the Atlantic coast. Fishing and scuba diving are evidently wonderful ways to decompress after the tension and stress of a legal practice. As one of my new friends said, “Good things come to those who bait.” With that in mind, please drop me a line. Let’s discuss. Maybe it’s true what the wise old salts say: that folks and fish are a lot alike—both get into trouble when they open their mouths. Now, let’s create some sunshine of our own. As always, it’s an honor and a privilege to follow in the footsteps of my late father, Judge Jerry L. Buchmeyer who for 28 years wrote a humor column for the Texas Bar Journal. I’m Going to a Real Dive Bar Yes, it’s true. South Florida is home to the nation’s very first underwater bar association. It’s called the DiveBar. And its mission is to bring together scuba diving lawyers and judges for fun, philanthropy, and ecology. Members explore sunken ships, swim near coral reefs, and generally enjoy the undersea beauty of Florida’s Treasure Coast. They also bring a whole new meaning to the phrase “swimming with sharks.” The DiveBar describes itself as “lawyers and judges making a difference in the underwater world.” And it also claims to be “the most exciting bar association in the country.” The DiveBar was founded by Bob Kelley, a Fort Lauderdale lawyer, who recently told South Florida’s Daily Business Review that he went to law school because “I realized I was going to do something with my life other than fish.” As you can see, Kelley’s the kind of attorney who’s also a reel expert, not afraid to tackle anything. The association’s motto? Carpe diem. The Scales of Justice Get Fishy Abigail McCall, a West Palm Beach attorney, had a whale of a problem. She’d volunteered to help run the annual fishing tournament hosted by the Young Lawyers Section, but oh my cod, what should they call it? A lesser lawyer might have floundered. But not McCall. She used her pre-law background in advertising and her lifelong enthusiasm for sport fishing to hook a reel winner: the Scales of Justice Fishing Tournament! Pure genius—hook, line, and sinker. Plus, you can get a T-shirt, printed with the same nifty logo that you see here and used with generous permission. “It’s a double pun,” McCall explained. “Besides the scales held by Lady Justice, we also weigh the winning fish on a set of scales for the contest.” The tournament typically raises around $10,000 for the local legal aid society and it’s a “KDW” tournament, meaning that prizes are awarded for the day’s weightiest kingfish, dolphin, and wahoo fish. Plus, an additional prize goes to the boat with the day’s heaviest combined catch. It’s not too late to enter! So, as a lawyer, what are you going to name your boat? May I suggest: the Hull Truth, the Sea-quester, the In-Solvent-Sea, the Miss Demeanor, the Prawn Brokers, or maybe even Row v. Wade. Island Lawyers: The Samoan Connection “It was the Law of the Sea … Civilization ends at the waterline. Beyond that, we all enter the food chain, and not always right at the top.” —Hunter S. Thompson, Generation of Swine: Tales of Shame and Degradation in the ’80s JUDGE JERRY L. BUCHMEYER (1933-2009) grew up in Overton and served as a federal judge in the Northern District of Texas after being nominated in 1979 by President Jimmy Carter. His monthly legal humor column ran in the Texas Bar Journal from 1980 to 2008. One of the most enduring characters ever written about by Hunter S. Thompson was a lawyer, the 300-pound Samoan attorney depicted in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Only the real-life lawyer wasn’t Samoan. He was a Texan born in El Paso. Oscar “Zeta” Acosta initially objected to the change in Thompson’s fictionalized retelling of their real-life adventures together. Acosta only relented and signed a release after his name and photo were included on the 1972 book jacket. “Compromise is the best and cheapest lawyer.” —Robert Louis Stevenson Treasure Island was written by Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894). But did you know the great author was also a lawyer? He read law at the University of Edinburgh and was called to the Scottish Bar but did not practice due to “weak lungs,” now presumed to be tuberculosis. The writer lived his final years on an island in Samoa, dying there at the remarkably young age of 44. Perhaps Stevenson met a few two-faced characters while studying law, which might explain another of his famous works, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Hot Case in Miami I happened to be quite near the Miami-Dade County Courthouse this past March when a local defense attorney suffered a most unfortunate incident. The attorney’s pants erupted in flames during closing arguments for his client’s arson case. “Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, my client’s car caught on fire not due to arson, but due to spontaneous combustion! Ouch, ouch! Excuse me, judge. Hot pants!” I’m paraphrasing here. The lawyer did flee the courtroom with smoke billowing from his right pants pocket, but luckily no one was hurt. He quickly extinguished the blaze in a nearby men’s bathroom and blamed the incident on the batteries he was carrying for his e-cigarette. A case of “liar, liar” or an unfortunate coincidence? The judge mumbled something about possible contempt charges and the jury still voted to convict. Lesson learned: “open carry” batteries can be a real hazard in the pants seat. Intimate Domain Paula LaRocque loves words. She’s a celebrated writing coach and a distinguished journalist who spent 20 years at the Dallas Morning News and also consulted for the Associated Press. Her delightful essays appear in her book On Words: Insights into How Our Words Work—And Don’t, where she’s especially attuned to misuse, miscues, and malaprops. Here are a few of the legal-themed misfires that LaRocque has gleefully collected. A newspaper reporter who wrote of the problem of “intimate domain.” Could be real estate, could be real matrimony. A job want ad: “… applicant must be prophetic in Microsoft Office.” Only the truly divine need apply. A political commentator: “This so-called reform bill flaunts the Constitution.” Flaunts is for showing-off; flouts is for showing disdain. Excited announcer during a wrestling match: “… he’s acting like a man repossessed.” Picture a lucha libre contest: Hey, Mr. Luchador, I’m here to repossess your mask. Onscreen text behind a TV anchor: “Troop Withdrawl.” Soldiers with Southern accents? TV news anchor describing a tribute dinner for a local dignitary: “… speakers shared antidotes during the banquet.” Just how bad was that food? A business columnist who wrote glowingly of a man “… who’d reached the pinochle of success in his personal Alger Hiss story.” Goodness, let’s hope not. Pinochle is a card game. Alger Hiss was a U.S. State Department official accused of being a Soviet spy—Horatio Alger was a 19th century ragsto-riches story. A newspaper once said about one of LaRocque’s speeches: “… she recommends against being too timid in writing and immolating the wrong people” Just for the record, no matter how horrendous the error, LaRocque has never suggested that a writer set themselves on fire. Not even a lawyer. PAMELA BUCHMEYER is an attorney and award-winning writer who lives in Dallas and Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. Her work-in-progress is a humorous murder mystery, The Judge’s Daughter. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. THINK YOU’RE FUNNY TOO? PROVE IT! Send your humorous articles of 600 words to email@example.com. Send deposition and trial excerpts to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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