I’m just a plainspoken Colorado criminal defense lawyer, but the way I see it…
This is a story that comes from Georgia to Colorado via Rhode Island criminal defense lawyer John Macdonald.
The bad news is that a great, great lawyer — who once cross-examined himself during a court hearing — is dead. Herb Shafer, of Atlanta, Georgia, died late last month. The good news is that he was 93, and scared the bejesus out of prosecutors and judges for more than 50 of those years.
So unafraid of either was he, that when a county court judge and a district attorney persisted in unethical private meetings in the judge’s chambers during trial, he told a reporter outside the courtroom exactly what he thought of both. He was overheard, and hauled back into the courtroom for a contempt hearing, against himself.
The transcript of that hearing, edited very slightly because my kids read this blog (one word in particular smacks of euphemy), tells the rest of the story; the district attorney asks the questions, Herb Shafer nails the answers:
Okay. The statement you made to the reporter about “I’m not going to let these popsuckers breathe until this jumps off my ass and onto theirs,” can you just be specific for me and tell me who the people are that you’re referring to as popsuckers?
Well, the judge, definitely. You, definitely.
Are there any other potential popsuckers out there?
Well, I don’t know. It depends on whether I nail them. If I nail them, if I find that they’re doing anything unethical, I’ll do more than call them a popsucker. I’ll institute the necessary proceedings if I see them doing anything unethical. Yeah.
I don’t know. Whoever.
Well, I’m just inquiring if we’re the only popsuckers out here in your view or if there are other popsuckers?
So far you’re the only popsuckers out here.
Are there any potential popsuckers or possible or probable popsuckers or people you suspect to be popsuckers, or are we the only confirmed and adjudicated popsuckers in the county?
Well, I don’t know that you’ve been adjudicated a popsucker yet, Mr. District Attorney, but you will be.
And if I understand the story right, Georgia to Rhode Island to Colorado, that district attorney was indeed later so adjudicated.
I suspect Herb Shafer will not soon be forgotten.