Good and bad lawyers (was Re: Phillip Johnson at Norshore...

From: Joel Cannon (
Date: Mon Apr 23 2001 - 17:54:27 EDT

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    Burgy has a point about good and bad lawyers.

    I work for lawyers as an expert witness so I am aware of this first
    hand. Nevertheless, good and bad lawyers will make points any way that
    they can ("Lawyers hit below the belt." was the counsel a good
    attorney gave me when advising an innocent and idealistic expert (me)
    about caution.) The verdict, decided by uneducated lay people, is the
    more important than truth in many if not most cases.

    Being in the legal process has been a fascinating and sometimes
    frightening look into something outside science. I found a
    Ph.D. physicist who had been a professor for over thirty years who had
    a stunning misunderstanding of Newton's laws, or that linear and
    angular momentum were conserved separately but had been merrily
    selling his services for many years.

    One of my favorite quotes comes from a colleague responding to my
    recitation of the overwhelming evidence in a case I was working on
    (and my disgust that this would be going to trial). His comment: "Now
    Joel---don't get overconfident based on the facts."

    A very relevant question regarding the legal enterprise and our
    current discussion is whether Phillip Johnson could be qualified in a
    court of law as an expert witness regarding the field of evolution
    despite the notoriously low standards for qualification of expert
    witnesses. I defer to legal experts but the answer is most probably

    > As one who has a lawyer in the family (my daughter), I'm hoping this was
    > a quip.
    > The fact that there are "good" and "bad"lawyers is a fact.
    > The fact that lawyers are an easy target for jokes is also a fact.
    > The implication that being a lawyer (or a biologist, or an accountant,
    > ... .) makes one part of a lower life form is noy agreed to. At least not
    > by me.
    > Burgy (John Burgeson)

    Joel W. Cannon | (724)223-6146
    Physics Department |
    Washington and Jefferson College |
    Washington, PA 15301 |

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