Excerpt Two from Chapter 18: A Kid’s Improbable Journey, Jesuit Guidance… And Vignettes of Trial Lawyers

Six months before the McKenzie trial, I was in England with John Conlon at a joint seminar for American Trial Lawyers and English Barristers. Talk about smooth, erudite use of language. I saw an English Barrister defend an alleged rapist at the “Old Bailey” in London. The defense was “consensual” sex. When the barrister cross examined the alleged rape victim (prosecutrix), he suggested consensual sex, asking the question: “Madam, let me suggest to you that you extended to my client, shall we say, the maximum in cordiality on a voluntary basis.” Wow, did I love that phrasing and that use of the language!… sexual intercourse: “the maximum in cordiality.” The English Barrister was on the mark with that “maximum cordiality.”

I brought that erudite phrasing all the way across the Atlantic from London’s “Old Bailey” to Detroit Recorder’s Court, and used it to cross examine the hooker that was on Fred Baker’s arm at the time Baker was shot. I attacked her credibility by showing that her profession was that of prostitution. Using my best barrister-inspired phrasing to a “T,” I opened with the question: “Madam, let me suggest to you that yours is, shall we say, the oldest profession known to mankind,” to which she instantly responded: “No… yours is; lawyers have been screwing people a lot longer than hookers have.” There you have it. I think her history is incorrect, but I went down for the count just the same. Even my dear friend and co-counsel, Bob Mitchell, was stifling a laugh until he saw my face, and then he couldn’t hold it in any longer. Touché! Round one to the witness. And, somewhere in my embarrassment and my uncertainty on how to follow up with my next question, I heard the refrain from my mother’s voice and the logic of her eighth grade education: “Don’t you ever forget where you came from.”