Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The Law of Being Average

A little less than two years ago, I tried a case in Essex County in which I defended an elderly African-American gentleman of whom I had grown particularly fond over the course of the case.  At trial the good guys (a/k/a "the defense") won and returned a verdict of "no cause of action" against the plaintiff.  It was a well-earned and well-deserved result.  

The plaintiff was a gentleman pathologically incapable of telling the truth - having told five distinctly different versions of how the accident happened in the lead up to trial and - much to the surprise of his attorney - a sixth, brand-spanking new version of it during direct examination at trial.  Every now and again trying a case is an experience akin to shooting fish in a barrel.  This was such a case.  The plaintiff was an atrocious witness - seemingly incapable of any semblance of consistency.  On the contrary my client was a benchmark of consistency, having told the police shortly after the accident substantially the same story that he told the jury.  

The disparate manner in which the two parties testified permitted me to use as the central theme of my summation, "Consistency is the hallmark of the truth", which I repeated several times throughout my closing argument in an effort to remind the jurors that when one is being honest it is easy to be consistent.  As mentioned above, the jurors apparently agreed with me.  We had a panel of eight and after they deliberated for a while they unanimously determined that whatever had happened to the plaintiff my client had not been the cause of it.  I like winning so I was - of course - happy with the result.  More than that, however, given that I was defending a little old man who had been diagnosed with bladder cancer about nine months prior to trial and whose trial testimony had to be videotaped during a day trip to rural Virginia because he was too weak to travel to New Jersey, I was happy to have produced for him a result that I thought - and still think - he was entitled to achieve.  

This year marks the final time that I shall oversee my annual March Madness Pool, which I have been doing for too many years to accurately count (although I am comfortable placing the total number of pools somewhere between fifteen and twenty).  Even with "only" forty-eight entrants of which to keep track this year, it is a lot of work.  Worse yet, it is work that I have even less interest in doing this year than I did last year.  2014 is not a likely candidate for a rebound.  

Any hope I had of going out on top in this annual test of collegiate basketball knowledge disappeared when Harvard wiped out New Mexico on Thursday night.  I decided to be oh-so-clever and pick New Mexico to win the National Title.  Forty minutes after their tournament started, it was over.  And I was left to remember why it is I have always despised their coach.   

This time in two weeks or so when the 2013 March Madness Pool Champion in crowned it shall not be me. It has never been me.  Not once.  Not now.  Not ever.  

Consistency is indeed the hallmark of the truth.  And the truth is that when it come to picking winners in the NCAA tournament, I stink.  Always have.  Always will....

....maybe just maybe consistency is not all that is cracked up to be. 


No comments: