April 24, 2008
Meursault Concludes the Semester
Posted by Alan Childress
Although I almost understand Jeff's inspiration from Albert Camus at the close of his semester, I think the better lesson comes from The Stranger, especially as I just finished teaching both Evidence and Legal Ethics. Rather than moving a rock uphill, the main character Meursault has to grapple with lawyers and the odd conception of relevance and character that a trial, even for killing a man perhaps justifiably, can become (my bold):
[My lawyer] sat down on the bed and explained to me that there had been some investigations into my private life. It had been learned that my mother had died recently at the home. Inquiries had then been made in Marengo. The investigators had learned that I had 'shown insensitivity' the day of Maman's funeral. ... He asked if I had felt any sadness that day. The question caught me by surprise and it seemed to me that I would have been very embarrassed if I'd had to ask it. Nevertheless, I answered that I had pretty much lost the habit of analyzing myself and that it was hard for me to tell him what he wanted to know. I probably did love Maman, but that didn’t mean anything. At one time or another all normal people have wished that their loved ones were dead. Here the lawyer interrupted me and he seemed very upset. He made me promise I wouldn’t say that at my hearing or in front of the examining magistrate. I explained to him, however, that my nature was such that my physical needs often got in the way of my feelings. the day I buried Maman, I was very tired and sleepy, so much so that I wasn’t really aware of what was going on. What I can say for certain is that I would rather Maman hadn't died. But my lawyer didn’t seem satisfied. He said, 'That's not enough.'
...I pointed out to him that none of this had anything to do with my case, but all he said was that it was obvious I had never had any dealings with the law.
Yeah, I have had clients almost like that. And legend in one law firm I worked for (a long time ago) was the principal of some company who was alleged to have colluded with his competitors to have fixed prices. "That's not true," he insisted to us emphatically, almost feeling wronged. "We voted fair and square!"
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