Thu 21 Jun, 2007 06:00 am
In my recreational reading of legal literature, I often run into what appears to be a staple proverb among lawyers: "If the facts are against you, argue the law; if the law is against you, argue the facts; if both are against you, confuse the issue." I don't ever remember reading an attribution for this. ("As my old professor liked to tell his students ...", etc., doesn't count.)
With this in mind, I thought I'd ask you lawyers. Does any of you know the source for this citation?
Murphy's law (5.1 ... at least in a couple of German collections)
for thomas :
"If the facts are against you, argue the law. If the law is against you, argue the facts. If the law and the facts are against you, pound the table and yell like hell." - quoted by an Illinois native, Carl Sandburg, in The People, Yes (1936)
...FACTS AGAINST YOU...
if you are prepared to further "argue the law" (and waste your - no doubt - valuable time see) :
please report back to us with any newly aquired wisdom asap , thomas !
Okay, I think that settles it.
The earliest source I've found is Carl Sandburg, an American poet born around 1865. Though the aphorism has made its rounds, in the legal community predominately (Holmes) is credited with using the quote in an opinion (though I've been unable to locate that opinion). Likewise, though I've found substantial documentation that Sandburg first used the quote--I've been unable to determine where. And I would love to know if anyone has.
The Everyday Esquire