Still Pissed Off About the Hawley-Smoot Tariff

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

From the Annals of Nevada Law

So I'm reading some old Nevada Supreme Court decisions (what? don't tell me you don't do it, too) and I stumbled across Dutt v. Kremp, 108 Nev. 1076, 844 P.2d 786 (1992). It's mostly a pedestrian case about doctors suing an attorney, claiming he sued them without probable cause, and as it was later withdrawn, I wasn't paying very close attention.

Then I got to the end. I should note that if you find law boring, you may as well skip this part. But for the law-talkin' folks out there, my question is this: have you ever seen another case where the judges attack each other on such a personal level? I haven't. From the majority by Justice Mowbray:

"The dissenting author's advocacy on behalf of the medical establishment, while characteristically turgid, is laudable, as are his past efforts on behalf of gaming concerns, business and industry, and assorted insurance companies. One is nigh moved to tears by these chronicles of destitution, misery and exploitation of the privileged few by the wicked little people.

"Mr. Justice Steffen, the world is not as you see it. I remind you that all persons--not just society's 'winners' -- are equal before the judicial courts of this land. I also urge you to open your eyes to the practical consequences of your rarified legal analysis; People suffer unjustly when they are fired from their jobs for little or no reason or when they are denied insurance coverage based on an arcane reading of some hidden policy exclusion. With respect to the rule you advocate today, it would undoubtedly discourage ordinary citizens from bringing a civil wrong to a court's attention or, for that matter, reporting criminal conduct. Finally, I suggest to you that the judicial task requires far more than sterile analytic skill; one needs compassion, humility, grace and, at times, mercy and the ability to forgive. In short, the judicial craft, as well as the law itself, demands a heart." (emphasis mine)

It gets even more amazing. The majority opinion was filed on December 22, 1992, signed by Mowbray, Springer and Young. On December 31, 1992, Justice Springer filed the following:

"I have heretofore filed an order, ordering that the clerk strike my name from the majority opinion filed in this case because Chief Justice Mowbray altered the original without my knowledge and inserted offensive material critical of Justice Thomas Steffen with which I strongly disagree. I agree with the decision of the plurality of Justices Mowbray and Young; hence, I concur in the result of that opinion only and not with the opinion itself."