The fust case I ever had in a Justice Court I emploid old Bob Leggins, who was a sorter of a self-eddicated fool. I giv him two dollars in advanse, and he argud the case as I thot, on two sides, and was more luminus agin me than for me. I lost the case, and found out atterwards that the defendant had employed Leggins atter I did, and gin him five dollars to lose my case. I look upon this as a warnin' to all klients to pay big fees and keep your lawyer out of temtashun.
My xperience in litigashun hav not been satisfaktory. I sued Sugar Black onst for the price of a lode of shuks. He sed he wanted to buy sum ruffness, and I agreed to bring him a lode of shuks for two dollers. My waggin got broke and he got tired a waitin', and sent out atter the shuks himself. When I called on him for the pay, he seemed surprised, and sed it had cost him two dollars and a half to hav the shuks hauld, and that I justly owd him a half a dollar. He were more bigger than I was, so I swallered my bile and sued him. His lawyer pled a set-off for haulin'. He pled that the shuks was unsound; that they was barred by limitashuns; that they didn't agree with his cow; and that he never got any shuks from me. He spoak about a hour, and allooded to me as a swindler about forty-five times. The bedevild jewry went out, and brot in a verdik agin me for fifty cents, and four dollars for costs. I hain't saved many shuks on my plantashun sence, and I don't intend to til it gits less xpensiv! I look upon this as a warnin' to all foaks never to go to law about shuks, or any other small sirkumstanse.
The next trubble I had was with a feller I hired to dig me a well. He was to dig it for twenty dollers, and I was to pay him in meat and meal, and sich like. The vagabon kep gittin' along til he got all the pay, but hadn't dug nary a foot in the ground. So I made out my akkount, and sued him as follers, to wit:
|Old John Hanks, to Bill Arp||Dr.|
|To 1 well you didn't dig||$20|
Well, Hanks, he hired a cheep lawyer, who rared round xtensively, and sed a heep of funny things at my xpense, and finally dismissd my case for what he calld its "ridikulum abserdum." I paid those costs, and went home a sadder and a wiser man. I pulld down my little kabbin and mooved it sum three hundred yards nigher the spring, and I hav drunk mity little well water sence. I look upon this case as a warnin' to all foaks never to pay for enything till you git it, espeshally if it has to be dug.
The next law case I had I ganed it all by myself, by the forse of sirkumstanses. I bot a man's note that was giv for the hire of a nigger boy, Dik. Findin' he wouldn't pay me, I sued him before old Squire Maginnis, beleevin' that it was sich a ded thing that the devil couldn't keep me out of a verdik. The feller pled failur of konsiderashun, and non est faktum, and ignis fatuis, and infansy, and that the nigger's name wasn't Dik, but Richard. The old Squire was a powerful sesesh, and hated the Yankees amazin'. So atter the lawyer had got thru his speech and finished up his readin' from a book called "Greenleaf," I rose forward to a attitood. Stretchin' forth my arms, ses I: "Squire Maginnis, I would ax, sur, if this is a time in the histry of our afflikted kountry when Yankee law books should be admitted in a Southern patriot's Court? Hain't we got a State of our own and a code of Georgy laws that's printed on Georgy sile? On the very fust page of the gentleman's book I seed the name of the sitty of Bosting. Yes, sur, it was ritten in Bosting, where they don't know no more about the hire of a nigger than an ox knows the man who will tan his hide." I sed sum more things that was pinted and patriotik, and closd my argyment by handin' the book to the Squire. He put on his speks, and atter lookin' at the book about a minit, ses he:
"Mr. Arp, you can have a judgment, and I hope that from hensefourth no lawyer will presoom to cum before this honerabul court with pisen dokyments to proove his case. If he do, this court will take it as an insult, and send him to jail."
I look upon this case as a warnin' to all foaks who gambel in law to hold a good hand and play it well. High jestice and patriotism are winning trumps.
My next case was about steelin' a hog. Larseny from the woods, I think they call it. I didn't hav but one hog, and we had to let him run out to keep him alive, for akorns was cheeper than corn at my house. Old Romulus Ramsour sorter wanted sum fresh meat, and so he shot my shote in the woods, and was catched carrying him home. He had cut off his ears and throwed 'em away; but we found 'em, with the under bit in the right and swaller fork in the left, and so Romulus was brot up square before the jewry, and his defense was that it was a wild hog. The jewry was out about two hours and brot in a verdik: "We, the jewry, know that shortly atter the war the kountry was scarce of provishuns, and in considerashun of the hard time our poor peepul had in maintainin' their families, and the temtashuns that surrounded 'em, we find the defendant not guilty, but we rekommend him not to do so any more." The motto of this case is that a man ortent to keep hogs in a poor naberhood.
After this I had a diffikulty with a man by the name of Kohen, and I thot I wouldn't go to law, but would arbytrate. I had bot Tom Swillins' wheat at a dollar a bushel, if he couldn't do any better, and if he could do better he was to cum back and giv me the prefferense. The skamp went off and sold the wheat to Kohen for a dollar and five cents, and Kohen knowd all about his kontrak with me. Me and him lik to hav fit, and perhaps would, if I hadn't been puny; but we finally left it to Josh Billins to arbytrate. Old Josh deliberated on the thing three days and nites, and finally brot in an award that Kohen should hav the wheat an' I should hav the prefferense. I hain't submitted no more cases to arbytration sinse, and my advise to all peepul is to arbytrate nuthin' if your case is honest, for there ain't no judge there to keep one man from trikkin' the other. An honest man don't stan no chance nowhere xceptin' in a court house with a good lawyer to back him. The motto of this case is, never to arbytrate nuthin' but a bad case, and take a good lawyer to advise, and pay him fur it before you do that.
But I got Fretman. I didn't, but my lawyer, Marks, did. Fretman was a nutmeg skhool teacher who had gone round my naborhood with his skool artikles, and I put down of Troup and Calhoun to go, and intended to send seven or eight more if he proved himself right. I soon found that the little nullifiers warn't lernin' enything, and on inquiry I found that nutmeg was a givin' powerful long recessess, and employin' his time cheefly in carryin' on with a tolerbul sized female gal that was a goin' to him. Troup sed he heerd the gal squeel one day, and he knowed Fretman was a squeezin' of her. I don't mind our boys a squeezin' of the Yankee gals, but I'll be blamed if the Yankees shall be a squeezin' ourn. So I got mad and took the children away. At the end of the term Fretman sued me for eighteen dollars, and hired a cheep lawyer to kollekt it. Before this time I had lerned sum sense about a lawyer, so I hired a good one, and spred my pokit book down before him, and told him to take what would satisfi him. And he took. Old Phil Davis was the jestice. Marks made the openin' speech to the effek that every profeshunal man ort to be able to illustrate his trade, and he therefore proposed to put Mr. Fretman on the stan' and spell him. This moshun was fout hard, but it agreed with old Phil's noshuns of "high jestice," and ses he: "Mr. Fretman, you will hav to spell, sur." Marks then swore him that he would giv true evidense in this case, and that he would spell evry word in Dan'l Webster's spellin' book correkly to the best of his knowledge and beleef, so help him, etc. I saw that he were a tremblin' all over like a cold wet dog. Ses Marks, "Mr. Fretman, spell 'tisik.'" Well, he spelt it, puttin' in a ph and a th and a gh and a zh, and I don't know what all, and I thot he were gone up the fust pop, but Marks sed it were right. He then spelt him right strate along on all sorts of big words, and little words, and long words, and short words, and he knowd 'em all, til finally Marks ses, "Now, sur, spell 'Ompompynusuk.'" Fretman drawd a long breth and sed it warn't in the book. Marks proved it was by a old preecher who was a settin' by, and old Phil spoke up with power, ses he, "Mr. Fretman, you must spell it, sur." Fretman was a swettin' like a run down filly. He took one pass at it, and missd.
"You can cum down, sur," ses Marks, "you've lost your case;" and shore enuf, old Phil giv a verdik agin him like a darn.
Marks was a whale in his way. At the same court he was about to nonsoot a Doktor bekaus he didn't hav his diplomy, and the Doktor begged the court for time to go home after it. He rode seven miles and back as hard as he could lick it, and when he handed it over, Marks, ses he, "Now, sur, you will just take the stand and translate this lattin' into English, so that the court may onderstand it." Well, he jest caved, for he couldn't do it.
He lost his case in two minits, for the old squire sed that a dokter who couldn't read his diplomy had no more right to praktise than a magistrate what couldn't read the license had to jine two cuple together.