Webster: Conn's hot streak, Garfield's heroics, teen's temptation

There have been persistent rumors of trees along the highways of Eastern Kentucky. If Eric The Conn is taken down by old Doc Coburn and his wild western counterpart, Sen John McCain, and if they personally come to Route 23 and saw down the billboards, we might even see those trees.

More likely, Mr. Social Security will just paint stripes onto his frame and continue to dangle for us.

But you have to hand it to the guy — 3,143 cases without a defeat is quite a hot streak.

We thought he was just good. And of all the alleged scammers who ever refused to talk to 60 Minutes, he was one of the best. And as far as taking the Fifth, he knew just what not to say and when not to say it.

Sitting right there behind him on C-Span were people we knew, and some of the major figures of our time were asking questions about a Subway at Stanville.

For those of you in the wilderness, Stanville is between Betsy Layne and Ivel. Betsy Layne was apparently once a person, later a village with a geodesic dome, but the dome came after the town was immortalized by the old mountain song about an above-ground train which declared that "Reuben had a train, run from hell to Betsy Layne." Ivel got famous for another man who started out as a hero, only to get shot down in Washington.

James A. Garfield led the North in a Civil War battle just down the road from lawyer Conn's statute of liberty. Less people were wounded at that battle than get hurt at the Saturday night knife fights on nearby Mud Creek.

Nonetheless, Garfield proclaimed himself a war hero, and Abraham Lincoln named him a brigadier general, and he was sworn in as such in the Pikeville city park.

Lincoln went on to earn his own statute in Eric Conn's parking lot, after himself getting shot down in Washington.

The Senate investigators were astounded that doctors only examined Conn's clients for 10 minutes. We could have told them that 10 minutes is a long time for even non-whore doctors to examine somebody in Eastern Kentucky.

In other news involving legal stuff, the most sensible judge in Eastern Kentucky was ordered not to use his common sense any more.

In Garfield's time, a 14-year-old unmarried girl would be considered an old maid. Nowadays, she is free to come to school half naked and tempt.

But a strange group called the Kentucky Judicial Conduct something or another has declared that it is flat wrong for a judge to consider either sexual temptation she has sponsored, or the natural human response to it when trying to decide what to do to a guy who could not resist.

The judicial board forbade anything that looks like an expression of sympathy for a defendant.


As a species, temptation and yielding to it are the keys to our evolutionary survival. You cannot outlaw either and be safe. That is dangerous, and so is having courts run by those said to be victims.

I go regularly to courts in which the prosecutor runs things, where guilt is presumed and judges act like they haven't read the law which allows reasonable bail, where judges always pretend to believe cops. That is all dangerous.

In 43 years of lawyering, the single most effective thing I ever saw a judge do was done by Frank Fletcher. A young man was seeking to get out of jail and stood before Fletcher, who asked him if his mommy was in the courtroom. When the young man said she was, he told her to come up and stand beside the defendant.

She started crying and Fletcher, using the common sense recently outlawed, said to him, in a packed room of errant youth and their families: "Now look. You've got your mother crying, because you won't work and you take pills."

That was more effective than rehab or prison or church. It was unconventional, brilliant, but may have been illegal because it introduced human emotion into the legal process.

Reach Larry Webster, a Pikeville attorney, at websterlawrencer@bellsouth.net.