Erma Bombeck says the grass is always greener but usually only over the septic tank. For all other locations what’s beyond the next hill is pretty much the same. But we humans do not let reality interfere with our favorite myths so we keep seeking Eldorado even when we may be happy where we are. And in America the gold ring is often searched for “out west”. That has been true from Plymouth Rock in 1620 until California four hundred years later. We just feel like our lives will be better if we head west. The Gold Rush of 1849 is the eponym for this belief that paradise awaits us across the Mississippi River. Horace Greeley exhorted America’s youth to fulfill our Manifest Destiny although … [Read More...] about The Legacy
For those of you who read last week’s Gavel Gamut and are wondering about Peg’s and my cinematic futures let me report we have not yet received a call from Martin Scorsese. I know he has been busy. We remain both confident and hopeful. However, as we await stardom life goes on. Specifically, what we have going on is the interminable saga of our move from JPeg Ranch Hoosier in Posey County, Indiana to JPeg Osage Ranch in Osage County, Oklahoma. Peg and I bought a cabin in Osage County last December. Our plan was to vacation there occasionally as we have numerous family members in Oklahoma. What we have discovered is the truism of the ancient admonition, “Where your treasure is there will … [Read More...] about Nothing’s Plenty For Me
Many of you have read JUDGE LYNCH!, the historical novel Peg and I wrote about the lynchings of four Black men on the campus of the Posey County, Indiana courthouse in 1878. And several of you even participated in the making of our short movie about the murders. That was our first effort at movie making and probably yours too. To those of you who volunteered to endure the cold, rain and tedium of my directorial debut, thank you! Please do not forget the compensation you received; wasn’t Shawnna Rigsby’s bar-b-cue good? You might be interested in some of the behind scenes manipulation I engaged in to get my friends to commit suicide, get shot, get chased by night riders on horseback and to … [Read More...] about Our Best Entertainment
You may already know Peg and I bought a log cabin in Osage County, Oklahoma. Our home in Posey County, Indiana is a converted barn with 4,000 square feet of finished space and our barn/home also has a barn. Our cabin in Oklahoma is 2,000 square feet and we had to add a barn. Four thousand square feet of stuff does not smoothly fit in 2,000 square feet of space. However, my suggestion to Peg that we simply leave everything but our toothbrushes was not kindly received. Ergo, we are in the process of triage. I have learned the hard way to not suggest which items are disposable. My role is to take down and re-hang not to judge what should be preserved. Benjamin Franklin and his wife, Deborah, … [Read More...] about Hang Together Or Separately
In the first grade Doug Givens and I fought every day after school. Doug lived one block south of 12th Street and I lived one block north. Each afternoon at 3:15 p.m. Doug and I would meet at the intersection where he would turn right and I would turn left. We would flail away as we grabbed one another and held on until our white tee shirts tore away. We engaged in this behavior for about two weeks. Our war ended without a formal armistice when our mothers figured out why they were meeting at the J.C. Penny Store tee shirt counter two Saturdays in a row. I have no clue why we started fighting, but our mothers had both of our fathers make sure we knew peace was the preferred new normal. Back … [Read More...] about Could Things Get Worse?
After last week’s scintillating column on Constitutional Law I know you are eagerly awaiting promised round two on politics and the United States Supreme Court. Of course, America’s judiciary eschews any notion that court outcomes are sometimes a product of the political views of the judge or judges who decide the cases. At the National Judicial College where I have served as a part-time faculty member since 1995 one of the guiding principles is the effort to have completely impartial judging of all cases. That is a proper goal. However, is that goal always achieved? Let’s take a look behind the black robes of history starting with America’s most famous case, Marbury v. Madison, decided in … [Read More...] about Legal Slight of Hand
Harvard law professor Michael Klarman was the keynote speaker at the June 2019 Indiana Graduate Judges Conference. As an attendee I received a signed copy of Klarman’s book, The Framers’Coup, The Making of the United States Constitution. Gentle Reader, to give you some perspective on the exhilarating experience of a law professor’s book, the tome’s Note and Index sections run from page 633 to 865. Of course, the substance of the book contains 632 pages of which several pages thank the law students who did the grunt work. Regardless, I do recommend the book to you as an interesting and often surprising exposition of how our Constitution survived the throes of birth. As Klarman says of our … [Read More...] about Of Founders and Russians
America is a wonderful country from the amazing amalgam of cultures in cities such as Miami, New York City, San Francisco and Portland to the majesty of Yellowstone and the Mississippi River. We are truly fortunate to have the privilege to live here. As for Peg and me, we are most familiar with two counties in two states, Posey County, Indiana and Osage County, Oklahoma. Of course, the basic element of all inhabited areas is the same, the inhabitants, and those inhabitants are more alike than unalike wherever we live. I have found this to be true from Russia and Ukraine to Palestine and Bahrain as I have taught judges from several foreign countries and from every state in … [Read More...] about A Tale of Two Counties
In December 1991 my family and I ate at Luby’s Cafeteria in Killeen, Texas. There was no trace of the bodies, blood and shattered glass from the October 16, 1991 mass shooting. We still felt their presence. Although I remembered the city riots of the 1960’s and 70’s and had closely followed the violence of 1968, the utter randomness of the Luby’s murders stoked more personal concerns. To slaughter people one did not even know struck me as much more horrendous than the misguided criminal actions of zealots. While America’s 20th century experience with deadly violence from 1900 up to the 1960’s was extensive and tragic, as Jasmine Henrique reported in her article Mass Shootings in America: A … [Read More...] about Mayberry We Miss You
If you read last week’s column you probably noted the current general topic is judicial education. Specifically, the focus of last week’s session was the definition of what is a judge and how did the concept of judging arise? We went back about 130,000 years to the hypothetical, and questionable, theory that Homo sapiens may have existed in North America before it had a name. The reason we are delving into these arcane mysteries is because the National Judicial College in Reno, Nevada has tasked some of its faculty, including me, with teaching an annual on-line course to judges from across North America. By design the course concentrates on general and basic aspects of what judges do and how … [Read More...] about The Circumspect Caveman
Mr. A.H. Holloman owned and operated a gravel pit near the small town of Frederick, Tillman County in southwest Oklahoma. The pit is about one half mile wide and 7 miles long. Holloman discovered numerous artifacts of ancient human occupation in the pit in 1920. The supposed age of the items suggested modern civilized Homo sapiens created them 130,000 years ago. However since this conflicted with the generally accepted theory that Homo sapiens arose in the Olduvai Gorge in Tanzania, Africa 60,000 to 80,000 years ago, the scientific community discarded the archeological evidence at the Holloman dig for many years. Then Professor David Deming of Oklahoma University published an article … [Read More...] about In The Beginning …
There are no upcoming events at this time.
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.