October is a wonderful month, cool, warm, wet, dry, crisp and colorful. I was enjoying this marvelous gift of nature while I traveled home from work last Friday. As I passed Larry Williams’ McKim’s IGA grocery store in Mt. Vernon, Indiana I was reminded of another reason October is special. All along the Main Street edge of the store were signs of candidates for public office. Large signs, small signs, red signs, blue signs red-white and blue signs. Off color signs, professionally produced signs and some that looked as if they were produced by a committee. They reminded me of that marvelous protest song from the Sixties, “Signs”, that was written by Les Emmerson and performed by the … [Read More...] about Signs
In a Cajun funeral one’s family and close friends form the First Line and send him/her off with a procession dancing to “When the Saints Go Marching In.” Homilies are recited, personal remembrances are told, and a sad time becomes a good time. Although neither Cajun nor Creole, I was honored with a rousing send off from my close friends and even closer family on Saturday, August 16, 2014. We had my funeral at JPeg Ranch and I immensely enjoyed it. It was also nice to hear what was said and sung. One of my friends, Randy Pease who is a fine guitar player and song writer, wrote and performed “The Ballad of Jim Redwine”. Another friend, D. Neil Harris who is a judge in Mississippi and a … [Read More...] about To The Members Of The First Line
Why are so many people on all sides so angry about the United States Supreme Court life-time appointment? The answer may be in the question: it is an appointment and it is for life. The true genius of the Founding Fathers was they understood power corrupts and since human beings constantly seek power it must be diffused into three branches of government. What they did not anticipate was that the Supreme Court, the Judicial Branch, would slyly usurp the power of the Executive and Legislative branches, starting with Chief Justice John Marshall and the case of Marbury versus Madison in 1803 in which the Supreme Court declared it had the power to review and invalidate or validate decisions of … [Read More...] about An Imbalanced Three-Legged Stool
If CNN, MSNBC and FOX News were covering the entertainments in the Roman Coliseum in the First Century they would have been exhorting the lions. Of course, the reason for this is the ratings would suffer if they sided with the humans. The public demands spectacle, not fairness. Or as Mark Twain opined: “One of the most striking differences between a cat and a lie is that a cat has only nine lives". Pudd’nhead Wilson, Chapter VII. In William Shakespeare’s Othello, Act 3, scene 3, Iago complains: “Who steals my purse steals trash …[But] who filches from me my good name robs me of that which (does not) enrich him [but] makes me poor indeed”. Our current spectacle steals from both … [Read More...] about The Coliseum Revisited
When I was an undergraduate at Indiana University I wavered between majoring in English or Psychology. I ultimately concluded a life spent seeking answers to life’s mysteries from mice running mazes held less promise than one trying to find wisdom hidden in the words of pundits. Over the years since college I have often questioned my choice. The current hollow clanging of brass over Judge Brett Kavanaugh and Dr. Christine Blasey-Ford is only the most recent struggle of yin and yang between my two choices. Attempted rape is a terrible crime and a false accusation of attempted rape is a terrible tragedy. Both can result in a life sentence of anger, fear, frustration and loss of control. And … [Read More...] about Life Sentences
Freedom of Speech is a good thing. That includes the “right” to lie and disparage anonymously. Cross examination is recognized in legal matters as the greatest engine of truth. It is just as much a Constitutional Right as Freedom of Speech. The First Amendment to the United States Constitution protects one’s right to speak and the Sixth Amendment protects the right to “confront one’s accusers”, i.e. to cross examine them, in criminal cases. Indiana’s Constitution guarantees both Freedom of Speech and “Face to Face” cross examination. It is clear that those who founded both our state and our country considered both rights sacred. However, as with much of life and law the devil is in the … [Read More...] about Cross Examination, The Engine Of Truth
Law enforcement agencies often rely on Confidential Informants to investigate criminal matters. Many times crimes cannot be solved if those who commit the crimes or those they voluntarily tell about the crimes do not talk to the police. It is a truism that it is hard to catch a fish that does not open its mouth. As long as the police are simply investigating a crime there is no reason why “anonymous sources” should not be mined for information. However, once a law enforcement agency decides to ask a judge for permission to arrest someone or search someone’s home or business, the basis for the judge to determine probable cause must comport with Constitutional standards. And there are both … [Read More...] about Anonymous Sources
The Babylonians of Mesopotamia formed a written code of laws designed to resolve all human needs and control all human behavior. That was over 3,500 years ago. It did not guarantee Freedom of Speech. Fear not, after the Babylonians the Hebrews took a shot at it and adopted, after first rejecting, the Ten Commandments that were supplanted by first Greek then Roman laws. None of these directly recognized the essential right to publicly disagree. Then along came history’s greatest conquerors, the British, who promulgated a system of law that encompassed much of prior legal systems. What each Code contained was a written desire to account for all human behavior. But the right to peaceably … [Read More...] about It Sounds So Simple
August 25th. Ah, I now remember it well, thanks to Peg who sweetly asked me over our first cup of coffee, “Jim, isn’t this just a beautiful morning?” I looked up from the trial transcript I was proofreading and grunted, “Yeah”. Things went downhill from there. As Peg had interrupted my work I assumed she would be pleased to get me some more coffee; so I held up my cup and said as politely as Oliver Twist, “More”. Her response threw me off: “It’s in the coffee pot. Why don’t you see if you can pour your own while I concentrate on making the bed, emptying the dishwasher, feeding the cat, sweeping the floor and pulling the weeds in the garden? By the way, Happy Anniversary!” I went into … [Read More...] about Ah, I Remember It Well
Robert Frost’s poem The Road Not Taken poignantly emphasizes the dilemma of life’s choices. Frost must have spent a great deal of time on this subject as another of his most famous poems, Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening, talks about Frost coming upon a fork in the road of life and having to choose one. None of us needs Frost or anyone else to point out to us the games the fates play with us but it is handy to find a short form for our thoughts. I hope over the years if you have read Gavel Gamut, which originated in 1990, every now and then you have found a similar lodestone to hang on to. In that regard I plan to from time to time re-run some of the almost 700 Gavel Gamuts. Maybe … [Read More...] about A Road Once Taken
This famous Latin phrase, “Work Conquers All”, was originally a piece of propaganda used by the Roman poet Virgil (70 BC-19 BC) in his poem Georgics to curry favor with the Roman emperor Augustus (63 BC- 14 AD). Augustus wanted to encourage Roman citizens to quit their enjoyable lives of drinking wine and discussing politics to take up the hard work of farming. Peg, and maybe your spouse too, has carried on this tradition. In the beginning were the innocent sounding words, “Jim, are you taking a vacation this summer?” I thoughtlessly replied, “I dunno, why?” “Oh, I just thought we could spend some time together at the Ranch, relax and catch up on some things.” “Sounds good, I’ll check … [Read More...] about Peg’s Motto: Jim’s Labor Omnia Vincit
December 1 @ 9:00 am - December 2 @ 4:00 pm
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.