Thursday, June 24, 2010

6/24 - Continued Tangent

Apologies in advance to anyone who finds this irksome, but I disliked this week's letters so much that I cannot feel inclined to waste good literary comparisons on them. There is too much of a technical nature about multiple letters.

On the other hand, Wimbledon has gotten off to a rousing start. They have had success closing the roof on Centre Court to finish matches that would have been called for darkness (although Djokovic-O. Rochus nearly got called by the curfew), Roger Federer has had two surprisingly difficult matches despite his playing decently (although he was definitely not moving to his forehand side particularly well in the first round), the Isner-Mahut match has exceeded not only expectations but imaginations, as well as the scoreboard on Court 18 by reaching 59-59 in the fifth set without concluding on the second day of play, and Queen Elizabeth II was very well briefed about the accomplishments of Martina Navratilova and others. We also learned in his post-royal-lunch visit to the ESPN studio that Roger Federer does not plan to emulate Bjorn Borg and stay away for 25 years after he retires.

In honour of Her Majesty's return to the AELTCC after an absence of 33 years, I shall address each question as if Royalty were concerned in each. My apologies to those pundits who have snarky things to say about either Wimbledon or Queens, and I shall pre-emptively remind one of them who strikes me as likely to support Dinara Safina's wish that they would tear up the grass and put in hard courts to refer to the L in AELTCC, and remind that person that it is the US Open that is the parvenu.

L1: My original impression of this letter was divided, but I vociferously object to the Prudecutor's assertion that the obligation to dance falls disproportionately or exclusively upon females. My personal interpretation was either that the company is all-female (apparently like the site to which the former Prudecutor has relocated) or that LW1 is made in the mold of Mizz Liz Probert, and employs a generic "she" in the same context as one might employ the generic pronoun "he" without referring to either gender specifically.

Speaking of Mizz Liz, I must compare her favourably to LW1. Even in the hottest Probert tirades against those of the male persuasion, there is often something likable. LW1 reminds me rather of some flashy QC who would prefer to plead out a case rather than admit that it might be possible to secure an acquittal. Forced to dance three times in three months - well, isn't she special, to paraphrase the Church Lady. And of course nobody else has ever felt any sort of discomfort about this before she came along, and naturally it's up to her to set the whole thing right as easily as Mizz Liz Probert intended, when she had just passed the Bar, to end world hunger or stop nuclear war if she could only decide which to do first.

The cross-examination will not dwell for too lengthy a period of time of the duration and nature of the dancing in question. It would be too much to hope that employees are required the sort of display that landed Claude Erskine Brown in such trouble when he was photographed in the Kitten-a-Go-Go Club (which he attended solely in pursuit of his legal career, having taken a brief in a case of an assault which had occurred there, so that it was to his advantage to be able to cross-examine witnesses about the geography and visibility of the club with some knowledge). To satisfy the Prudecutor, it should not take long to establish that this is not a case of Male Gratification at Female Expense. But my main point of interest might lie in what LW1 has done to discern the history and rationale of this odd custom, as well as the reactions of the other victims. She appears to give off an air of singularity which is rather off-putting. Has no other employee ever objected to this practice, or all they all slores who are only too delighted to strut their stuff?

[MATCH UPDATE: Mahut has just held for 64-all, guaranteeing that this set will be at least 130 games long if neither player retires. Given that they bet on everything at Wimbledon, down to the number of rain delays and total duration of time that there will be play on Centre Court with the roof closed, the bookmakers could be losing fortunes to anyone taking a wild shot in the dark at some wild score being reached or length of match played. 65-64 Isner - Mahut will now serve to stay in the match for his 61st consecutive service game. Whatever happens in this match, I expect Mahut to be the tour leader at year's end in Holding Serve to Extend a Match.]

Now, if Royalty were involved, would we have this problem? LW1 certainly seems to think as highly of herself as if she were, if not a queen, at least a duchess. [65-65] Certainly whenever royal personnages dance, they must anticipate attention, and they have presumably been sufficiently well schooled in coping with attention to be able to acquit themselves. [66-65] Alternatively, perhaps a Queen Regnant might have a Designated Dancer to perform in her stead. After all, Royals often marry by proxy, so that dancing by proxy seems quite a reasonable proposition.

As LW1 has already succumbed to this cumpulsion three times, she may have missed her best opportunity to evade the humiliation. A far-thinking person might have anticipated on the first occasion of the ritual [66-66], with any luck someone else's so that she'd have been prepared to nip it in the bud before her own first turn occurred, that there might be any number of suitable excuses to avoid being pushed into conformity without making quite the case of declining that will likely be made if she retracts at this point. [67-66] She could have claimed a religious affiliation that precluded dancing, or even just a sore ankle. [67-67] She could have had a Claire Simmons moment and said, "No thank you," [68-67] as icily as if she were packing a lorgnette in the best New York society tradition, or alternatively have declined as if she were graciously conferring a great favour upon the company.

As to what she should do now, I am tempted to cast her in the role of Nancy Kerrigan [68-68] and advise her to just take an active role in the proceedings. What we need is for LW1 to be working with Tonya Harding, and for Tonya's ex-husband to arrange for LW1 to be whacked in the knee. The more I consider the possibility, the more like the unlucky Ms Kerrigan LW1 seems. Just Tuesday I was reading the chapter of *Inside Edge* in which Christine Brennan was discussing a couple of occasions on which Ms Kerrigan didn't do herself any PR favours. [69-68 from 0-30 down] The analogy seems apt.

Moral: If LW1 were a wife of Henry VIII, perhaps she would be Catharine of Aragon, forced to put pregnancy after pregnancy on public display, although the results of her labours were somewhat less fruitful as well as less frequent.

L2: [Match point at 30-40] [Isner wins 70-68] I am inclined to recuse myself, as I tended to throw things upon occasion for some years, although at this point my temper seems to have limited itself to occasional yelling at the computer or something inanimate when I am alone. I can't recall ever hitting anything - that would not have been my forte anyway. Any violence was always self-directed. My best guess is that I just wore out the worst of the temper, though it never quite died off. Beyond one rather misshapen tennis racquet with which I continued to play for a couple of years after bouncing made it somewhat lopsided, and once breaking a cheap pitcher I'd bought by throwing it out a window onto rocks, I don't recall much property damage, though.

The Prudecutor's coming up with a diagnosis is somewhat alarming. Everything seems to have a diagnosis these days, and sooner or later all sorts of highly unpleasant people will be considered to be in Protected Classes. It reminds me a bit of a case in which a civic employee repeatedly showed up to work drunk. After some years of this conduct, he was fired, as the town in question was known for its quick responses to such situations. He then sued for wrongful termination, claiming that his diagnosed alcoholism constituted a protected disability. I don't properly recall the details, but believe that the case was settled for at least six figures.

One regal case this calls to mind would be with the genders reversed, that of George IV and his Queen Consort, Caroline of Brunswick (George II had a highly successful marriage to Caroline of Anspach). Despite his flagrant misconduct with Maria Fitzherbert, she managed to display such ill (as well as wanton) temper that she managed to lose the sympathy of nearly the entire public. If LW2 were Royalty, she could probably just have him imprisoned at her pleasure, and it might please her to make that imprisonment indefinite. Or take a page from Mary, Queen of Scots, who just had Darnley murdered.

As it would feel rather indelicate to cross-examine LW2 or the significant other, I shall confine myself to a small piece of tentative advice (mentioning in passing that there's something about LW2's phrasing in wondering whether this is something she can reasonably ask him to work on that strikes me unfavourably but mildly so) to try selecting a likely reaction to ask him to avoid when he loses his temper during the next week or so. If he can exert that much control, it would seem plausible that the relationship can be saved; if not, it might be a red flag. That is about as much as it seems fair to say when recusal seems so correct.

Moral: If LW2 were a wife of Henry VIII, she might be Catherine Howard, who received rather the worst of Henry's temper, although partially due to her own conduct. At least LW2 can console herself that she has not caused any outbursts, and perhaps might not do so at all, besides taking comfort from the reduction in the number of decapitations.

L3: Who'd be a quack? I would not like to take a malpractice case from either side if there were any shinier and newer taxi for hire towards whom I could direct the attentions of a potential litigant. One could hardly get a case laughed out of court the way it was possible to do when Claude Erskine Brown took Tricia Benbow to dine at La Maison Jean-Pierre and her dinner plate chanced to contain an unordered live mouse. Perhaps in the US La Belle Benbow would have sued, but the only suit that resulted, Regina vs O'Higgins, was for Dirty and Dangerous Practices.

It seems reasonable to devote a vast quantity of cross-examination to whether the error(s) in treatment rise to the level of actionable malpractice. The Prudecutor seems to be jumping to conclusions when she calls it a"physician-caused death". "Physician-unprevented" might be more accurate. How LW3 can be certain test results were ignored instead of discounted remains to be seen as well. And does "received proper care" really mean "been properly diagnosed"? I'm really not at all sure. LW3 seems remarkably positive. Why? Unseemly as it might be to question that certainty, it might rise to actionable legal malpractice to accept LW3's evidence unquestioned.

As for the Canada comment, perhaps some obliging solicitor will be able to inform us whether what LW3 really meant was that there wouldn't be enough money in it to justify suing in Canada, or perhaps that it would be harder to prove the case. Knowledge of the law is, as we all know, a bit of a handicap to a barrister. Also, can hospitals in Canada or anywhere apologize without rendering themselves vulnerable?

The debate is reminiscent of the struggle over whether a priest should be admitted to Lord Marchmain in *Brideshead Revisited* with Charles against, Bridey for, and the women each in various states of flux. Unfortunately, the medical field is too technical for me to feel comfortable endorsing any verdict.

If LW3 were Royalty, then there would be all sorts of interesting motives if it really were an ailing father left alive and the mother dead. Is LW3 the eldest son, who would be the most interested party of all? Of course, there would be no chance of keeping such distressing news from a reigning monarch unless he had already made such displays of temper that bad news was only related extremely gingerly if ever.

Moral: If LW3 were married to Henry VIII, (s)he might be Katherine Parr, jostling for position among Henry's advisors while coping with his declining health and preparing to marry Thomas Seymour quickly afterwards.

L4: Another letter which is far too technical. What can one say? Either the defendant needs to quaratine himself for a certain period of time or he doesn't, and either he did or he didn't. A case for the whitewigs. I am inclined to wonder where we would be without Facebook, which reminds me of the Rumpolean fondness for the right to silence, but will let it go for now.

If LW4 were Royalty, the ideal solution to the problem would be to hold a Progress and, as Henry VIII found to be a useful method of coping with irritating nobles, bankrupt the offender by visiting him for three months and putting him to unsustainable expences in the running of his household for the duration. A nice touch would be to make sure that all his favourite mistresses contacted social diseases during the Visitation.

Moral: If LW4 were married to Henry VIII, she might be Jane Seymour, left untreated after the birth of Edward VI, and soon thereafter deceased.

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