Saint Patrick’s Day Thoughts

The Drums Go Bang, And The Cymbals Clang

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!

Billy made a comment yesterday about the St. Patrick’s day parade in South Boston. For background, he is  co-author of a book about the legal fight to allow the parade sponsors to decide upon the message of their parade titled: From Trial Court To The United States Supreme Court. He also participated as a lawyer in the defense of the parade organizers.

His book tells how the case proceeded through the courts in Massachusetts to the Supreme Court and shows that despite the law being obvious that the parade organizers had a right to control the parade’s message, the judges in Massachusetts twisted the law to rule that outside groups could decide the message of this private organization.

It is really a simple issue. It’s like forcing Cardinal O’Malley in his Easter sermon to include a statement by a group who believes Christianity is a hoax, or requiring AA groups to have at each meeting a person telling of the benefits of alcohol; or if I wrote a post critical of the FBI I’d have to include a statement by the agent in charge of the FBI’s Boston office.

The St. Patrick’s parade case eventually reached the US Supreme Court where that court in a 9 – 0 decision overturned the Massachusetts judges stating they were clearly wrong.  If you wonder why Billy sometimes has a jaundiced view of judges, he has felt it on his skin. He knows what it is like to have the law clearly on one’s side, for the issue to be clear, yet to lose time after time where willful judges ignore the law and impose their will.

You’d not know about the case in the way I framed it. The media reported it as the South Boston people wanting to keep a group of marchers expressing their pride in being gay out of the St. Patrick’s Day parade. That, of course, made the issue one of discrimination against gays which rubbed most people wrong. It also allowed the Massachusetts judges to justify their thwarting of a group’s rights because they thought that group’s message was biased.

Of course, this was all done to the plaudits of the media. I’ve thought had the group being excluded from the parade been Black and Tan veterans, or American Nazis, or even back in those days Republicans, the Massachusetts judges would have had no trouble correctly interpreting the law.

A state’s highest court being overturned in 9 -0 decision is quite a slap down. It does show how the law can be used against views that judges dislike. As a young lawyer I worked for this pretty smart lawyer, Frank DiMento. I couldn’t figure out how two different courts came down with opposite conclusions on identical fact situations. He told me to remember that “the law is what the judges say it is.” It was a disquieting nine words after having spent so many years studying the law to find out that the law really depend upon the vagaries of the judges.

Tip of the cap to Patty: Bob Oakes of WBUR interviewed an expert on judicial ethics who teaches law at Hofstra University in New York (aren’t there any law schools around here?) who opines there’s a good chance Whitey will be acquitted using the immunity defense, that Judge Stearns never should have ruled on that issue, and that Judge Stearns disgraced himself.

The little I can find out about Judge Casper all seems to be positive. I wonder now if J.W. Carney’s client is happy with his statement that any other judge than Stearns will be acceptable to the defendant. You have to wonder how Whitey will feel having as a judge a person who worked in the office with Fred Wyshak and Brian Kelly during the time of his indictment and many of the proceedings surrounding his case and also during the time of the highly publicized trial of Whitey’s handler, FBI Agent John Connolly.

What if Whitey did not know of her background? What will J.W. or Hank Brennan do if Whitey insists they file a motion asking her to recuse herself from his trial? If they refuse, can Whitey asked that they be removed?

When ADAs from Norfolk County were appointed a superior court judge they usually avoided sitting in Norfolk. If one did and an ADA she worked with was before her on a case to be tried, she would notify the defendant of her prior association with the ADA to see if the defendant had a problem with her sitting on the case. I wonder if Judge Casper will do the same thing for Whitey.

In less than 90 days the trial will begin according to its schedule. Whitey, as we know, wants to die in the Plymouth jail so he will be intent on seeking another delay. There is a huge wave of opposition to any more continuances of the trial date.

I suppose it is appropriate that March Madness begin today with the selection of teams to participate in the tournament. At one time we all thought March Madness referred to St. Patrick’s Day because in the Boston Irish tradition many would abstain from alcohol during Lent except for St. Pat’s day. Then they would make up in spades for the time they’d been on the wagon.

I think it was around this time of year I first heard someone had the DTs which I heard as the DPs. Back in those days DP was a derogatory term much used by the Irish (“the DPs are ruining the country”) to describe others who were similarly situated as they were two or three generations earlier. It’s a cycle that repeats itself.

I usually have a taste of Irish Whiskey today. Each year I have to figure out whether to have a Bushmill or Jameson. One is supposedly owned by the Brits so I’m supposed not to drink it. I don’t know why its such a big issue because Guinness is made by the Brits and I’ve never known an Irish lad or lass to turn one down, unless, of course, she wore a Pioneer pin.

Have a good day!

4 replies on “Saint Patrick’s Day Thoughts”

  1. The last’s book’s last word is “Infamy?” I won’t mention my other worst sellers: “Shots Heard Round the World: Americans Answer the Call to Arms,” a two-volume history which proves the people from South Boston and Dorchester played a critical role in all of America’s wars; “One Life: How the Supreme Court Deliberately Distorted the History, Science and Law of Abortion” (my antipathy to judges is deep-seated; judges distorting facts? Who’d a guessed it!). Nor will I mention my soon to be released second novel: “Mac the Dog: the Story of how Madeline, Andy, Tiger and Mac changed the World” (2013). My first novel, a 1,000 page opus, “The Savillians, the Story of a Celtic People” (1990), no one would ever dare to publish (not even I); it was an overly wordy monstrosity, but my dear friend from Savin Hill, Paul Walkowski, the internationally published author (one of his novels, on cocaine trafficking, was translated into Japanese; Paul also was long time columnist and also a writer for City Council President Jimmy Kelly) said that he liked The Savillians because of its metaphors. He was the one and only one who found something kind to say about it. When I had breakfast with Ralph Veranis, Jackie Madden and Jimmy DeMaris, they asked what was my style of writing. I answered, “Do you like abstract art?” A friend down the Cape, Bob McKenzie, spoke bluntly and laconically about “The Savillians”, “I didn’t like it!” As, my lifelong friend Knuckie from Savin Hill used to say, “You win some, you lose some, and some are rained out.” The publishing world has rained on my parade! Brother Jim said I’d be famous posthumously. I said, “Jim, that thought doesn’t console me.” Like the painters who try to sell their wares on Newbury Street, I guess I’ll keep on writing ’til the cows come home!

    1. Bill:
      I corrected the word “infamy.” I had no idea you wrote so many books although I did read the Shots books and have them in my bookcase. You book about the judges distorting the law may be true but don’t forget if the judges make the law they can make it out of anything they want. What they decide the law is today may not be the law tomorrow. Many people are still arguing over the meaning of the word “is” so if you put more words before and after that you just expand the arguments.
      I don’t know if I read your 1,000 page opus but in writing one should be mindful of Blaise Pascal’s words: “Je n’ai fait celle-ci plus longue que parce que je n’ai pas eu le loisir de la faire plus courte.”

  2. Matt, thank you for your kind words and for mentioning the book, “From Trial Court . . . Anatomy of a Free Speech Case” co-authored by Paul Walkowski and me. It took us about 2,000 hours write the book (you know, research, photos etc.) and we sold about 2,000 copies. It was highly praised by Constitutional law professors across the country. The Boston Globe and Boston Herald refused to even mention it. It was published by Branden in the summer of 1995, after the Veterans had won 9-0 at SCOTUS. I was surprised one March day when I went to the Newton Free Library and saw a half-dozen or so books displayed as recommended reading for Irish history month and there standing among works by literary giants Joyce, Shaw, O’Connor, Synge, Yeats, Heaney, and Kavanaugh (as I imperfectly recall them) was our humble tome, “From Trial Court . . .”
    May I also mention two other very imperfect books which I hastily wrote to gauge if there were an interest in the subject matter (there was not: each are ranked about 10,000,000 on Amazon’s Best Sellers—your work, “Don’t Embarass the Family” has hovered around the top 100,000 for months, which is excellent and a rarity for first authors): the names of those books are The Fix: The Corruption of Massachusetts Courts and Agencies and Character Assassins: Carr, Dershowitz, Mudd: Who’ll Live in Infamy.

    1. Bill:
      Your book “From the Trial Court to the Supreme Court” is an important book. It is anathema to the local mainstream media so it was not mentioned even though it dealt directly with a Boston issue. I guess the media is like the FBI believing if it isn’t isn’t published in their newspapers it doesn’t exist. Your other two books I’ve also read. Although I disagree with some of your assertions, as you know, they do give another view of things that the media wants to keep from the people.
      That after all is demonstrates the genius of the Founding Fathers who gave us the First Amendment. It allows the media to present just one side of the story. That’s what was so strange about the SJC decision in the St. Patrick’s day parade case that it (and the media) could not see that a private party has the right to present the side of the story it wants heard and only that side. You point out this in your book. At one time in this country newspapers were owned and published by the political parties themselves who told only their side of things.
      People who want to get out of the left/right, black/white mold of thinking would be well advised to consider reading books like you have written that give a different perspective on things.

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