A nation is its culture and experience, its history. That is what determines its character. The same is true of the world. We learn or do not learn from the mistakes and accomplishments of ourselves and those who have preceded us. If we learn, we can accomplish more. If we do not learn, we may repeat mistakes. To learn from the past we must know and understand it. If we hide the past, we do not change what has happened but we may live to regret that we no longer remember it. ISIS or ISIL, the Islamic State of Iraq or the Islamic State of Syria, has been culturally cleansing the ancient Middle East for several years. Its members are offended by statues, monuments and artifacts that once, … [Read More...] about Cultural Cleansing
If you read last week’s column (hey, I can dream can’t I), you know I am preparing to help the National Judicial College teach Rural Court Judges. Last week we talked about the theory that our law arises from our history and culture, our Volksgeist. Or as Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. (1841-1935) put it, “The life of the law has not been logic; it has been experience”. Posey County, Indiana has produced several influential thinkers on what our law should be and do, that is, what is the proper purpose of our legal system? Our most famous citizen was and still is Alvin P. Hovey (1821–1891). Hovey was an attorney, a Posey Circuit Court judge, a general and the only governor to ever come from … [Read More...] about Do Right While We Help Ourselves
During August and September this year, as for several years before, the National Judicial College will be presenting Internet courses to judges from across America. Other members of the NJC faculty and I will discuss with student judges via computer and telephone how to bring more just results in our courts. The faculty is comprised of volunteer judges and staff in Nevada, Colorado, Indiana, Mississippi and Tennessee. My experience over several years of judging and continuing judicial education by both Internet and brick and mortar classes has led me to the conclusion judges should not concentrate on techniques but rather systems of thought, i.e., legal theory. “How to” knowledge is helpful … [Read More...] about The American Volksgeist
I recently received a respectfully worded request for excusal from jury duty. I granted it. The potential juror claimed a religious exemption. I am not a theologian although one of my nephews just received his doctorate in Theology from Oklahoma Baptist University. He makes no claim for religious exemption from jury service. I say to each his own. Should a person assert sincerely held beliefs that her or his god, faith, philosophy or belief prohibits jury service, so be it. Such positions, if rooted in the First Amendment, are fine with me. Religion should not be involved in our legal system. That’s what James Madison, Thomas Jefferson and the rest of the revolutionaries meant to … [Read More...] about Not a Problem
My sister is not an antique. She is sometimes cranky, opinionated and usually stuck in the last century. However, she is not an antique. Those few of you who actually read this column either know Janie or have heard of or from her. She is known for railing against many things, as old people often do, but usually saves her most acerbic wit for her three brothers. As Daddy’s favorite and Mother’s pet Janie could never accept her status as a possible antique. No, Janie is more like a superannuated coquette with political views that do not gladly suffer fools and opinions which are of the adamantine variety. But an antique, not so fast. Delores Jane (Redwine) Bartlett cannot be an antique … [Read More...] about The Birthday “Girl”
Jerry Clower (1926 – 1998) was a Mississippi storyteller whose most famous story involved some raccoon hunters. According to Jerry he and some friends treed what they thought was a raccoon but it turned out to be a lynx. The lynx was not amused when Jerry’s friend climbed the tree and poked the perturbed cat with a stick. When the lynx counter-attacked with teeth and claws Jerry’s friend called for the men on the ground to fire a gun up at the fighting twosome. Jerry told his friend they couldn’t shoot because they might hit the friend. The man yelled back, “Shoot anyway, one of us has to have some relief.” I thought of this homespun wisdom when Peg and I noticed our only peach tree was … [Read More...] about Some Relief
When the United States had gambling only in Nevada and then Nevada and New Jersey those two states were blessed with gamblers from California to New York. Each state’s own citizens benefited greatly from the rest of us. Now virtually every state and every group of Native Americans is mining this mother’s lode of camouflaged taxation, revenue enhancement that is. The rest of us may scoff at Illinois and its budget woes. However, as a country we have many Illinois type problems of our own, our 20 trillion dollar debt for example. Illinois in 2015 sold, mainly to its own citizens, $2.85 billion in lottery tickets. This direct tax fell mainly on those dreamers who could least afford it. A few … [Read More...] about Gambling, Governments’ Iron Pyrite
Although I wrote the first few Gavel Gamuts in 1990 the every-weekly column began in April 2005, about 700 articles ago. In light of our current political and cultural dissonance I thought it might be interesting to revisit the following thoughts from over a decade ago to assess what changes may have occurred. This Birthday Greeting to America was first published July 04, 2005. I hope those of you who read it then and those who are considering it for the first time will find it worthwhile in our on-going conversation of Separate versus Equal. Also, Peg and I are returning to Osage County, Oklahoma for this Fourth of July. Maybe we’ll find the bus station is now just a memory. Happy … [Read More...] about Are We Still Separate?
Amity, a lovely word meaning harmony and good feeling. The 1975 movie JAWS! was set on a New England island named Amity where the summer tourists provided lunch for a marauding great white shark. Local Police Chief Martin Brody (Roy Scheider) tried to warn them but Mayor Larry Vaughn (Murray Hamilton) overruled him. In this article, Gentle Reader, you may think of me as the police chief and Peg as the mayor. Peg’s Wal-Mart aboveground pool will serve as our beach. Just take a look at the photograph! That dark goo in the bottom of the pool is as scary as the shark. You will note Peg is covered from head to toe with HAZMAT protection. You may wonder why she is in the middle of the crud while … [Read More...] about Amity Pool
Douglas Bruce McFadden died June 14, 2017 and took a lot of intellect, humor and history with him. Fortunately, he wrote a book, The McFaddens: A Family of Frontiersmen 1258-1950 (now 2017), which left us his Posey County historical legacy. Doug was great fun to talk with about history and politics; he knew both subjects thoroughly. Of course, his family was the McFaddens of McFaddens Bluff, now Mt. Vernon, Posey County, Indiana. When the McFaddens landed here in 1805 they were greeted personally by General William Henry Harrison who told young Mary McFadden she was the first white woman to land in the Indiana Territory, which was then part of the Northwest Territory. As Doug says in his … [Read More...] about Doug McFadden Knew Where We Came From
James Russell Lowell (1818 to 1891) was the American poet best known for, “And what is as rare as a day in June.” The term “rare” is often used by poets from Lowell to Shakespeare to mean “fine”, that is, good. In Lowell’s poem The Vision of Sir Launfal, Lowell prattles on about perfect days with green grass and giddy flitting critters. He celebrates “dandelions blossoming” and “happy creatures” visiting us in droves. Apparently he was not visited by Southern Indiana’s Buffalo Gnats, giant mosquitoes and a spouse who views the appearance of June as the starting gate for indentured servitude by husbands. I dread June each year because I know Peg is convinced Mother Nature’s sole purpose for … [Read More...] about A Rare Day
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Unanimous for Murder
Unanimous for Murder picks up where JUDGE LYNCH! left off. A gripping story of small town murder and judicial shenanigans on the western frontier when the western frontier was east of the Mississippi.
Echoes of Our Ancestors: The Secret Game
Jim’s new novel tells the exciting story of a long hidden but important football game that occurred between representatives of Haskell Indian Institute (now the Haskell Indian Nations University) and professionals from the then Kansas City Cowboys in 1924 at a secret location on the Osage Indian Nation near Pawhuska, Oklahoma - where Jim was born.
“Judge Lynch Holds Court!” That was the banner headline in a Posey County, Indiana newspaper after seven African American men were murdered by a white mob during October, 1878.
Gavel Gamut Greetings from JPeg Ranch
“Gavel Gamut Greetings" is an anthology of topical and historical selections mainly about regional events and personalities that have appeared in my weekly newspaper column, Gavel Gamut.