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VOL. 129 | NO. 149 | Friday, August 1, 2014

Dan Conaway

Dan Conaway

Ask a Lawyer

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JUDGED BY LAWYERS. Q: What do you when you have a lawyer buried up to the neck in sand?

A: Not enough sand.

Lawyers can’t catch a break.

Q: What the difference between a lawyer and a catfish?

A: One is a bottom-feeding, crap-eating scavenger. The other is a fish.

Both of those jokes were told to me by lawyers, but then the funniest line I’ve ever heard in a meeting came from a lawyer.

We were sitting in what would be the last meeting in my ad agency conference room. Across from us were three IRS agents – all men, right out of central casting in short-sleeve, permanent-press, white Van Heusens accessorized by pen-packed pocket protectors, bad ties, bad glasses and bad moods. In front of each one was a laptop and in front of each laptop was a huge accordion-style file folder with a baby blue, industrial-strength rubber band wrapped around it to keep its weighty, smelly contents from spilling out like guts in an autopsy.

This particular autopsy was not going well when my lawyer, Paul Lawler, leaned across the table and said, “I don’t believe you boys understand, my client is as broke as the Ten Commandments.”

Here’s the thing. You don’t need a lawyer until you need a lawyer, but a good one can save your life and a bad one can cost you everything. Folks, in this election – with more judges on the ballot than spandex during Elvis week – we need a lawyer to tell us the difference between the qualified and unqualified, between the good and bad.

We don’t need a political party to choose our judges for us any more than we need a political party making any key decision for us in our everyday lives, and what happens on benches across Shelby County affects our everyday lives. We don’t need churches, synagogues or mosques anointing our judiciary any more than we need any of them making our laws and making us bow to them to the exclusion of all others.

We especially don’t need Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey’s ham-fisted attempt to pack the state supreme court with toadies bought by Koch brothers’ money and other out-of-state interests.

We need the opinion of the people who stand before those benches practicing law day-in and day-out, who bring matters before those courts where knowledge of the law and its even-handed, thoughtful application matter most.

The Memphis Bar Association Qualification Poll asked the simple question, “Which candidate is best qualified to serve?” 1,383 active Shelby County attorneys answered, and those answers, expressed in percentages, can be found at memphisbar.org.

For instance, in Ramsey’s aforementioned attempt to have all three Tennessee Supreme Court Justices removed, here’s what the Memphis Bar said:

- 78.3 percent said to keep Justice Cornelia Clark.

- 78.2 percent said to keep Justice Sharon Lee.

- 79.3 percent said to keep Justice Gary Wade.

We need good lawyers and good judges. Each group knows the other, and they know the difference.

I’m a Memphian, and we should listen to our lawyers.

Dan Conaway is a lifelong Memphian, longtime adman and aspiring local character in a city known for them. Reach him at dan@wakesomebodyup.com.

PROPERTY SALES 38 38 12,796
MORTGAGES 27 27 8,030
BUILDING PERMITS 137 137 30,071
BANKRUPTCIES 44 44 6,108