Mr. Brown sat down on the sofa at my invitation. He placed his briefcase on his lap, and said, “This won’t take long. I understand that you were an eye witness to the accident down the street when a child, my client, was hit by a car.”
“Yes, sir,” I responded.
“The reason I am here is because in your account of the accident you say, ‘The boy stopped at the curb. Looked both ways, then dashed out into the street.’ The word “dashed” is rather prejudicial against my client; could you use a different word to describe what the boy did?”
“Of course,” I replied, “I could say he “darted” into the street.”
His expression told me that was not what he hoped for! He thanked me and went on his way. ———
His visit was a follow up to an accident I had witnessed the week before. As I was going home from work and children were going home from school, I witnessed a car hit a boy in the street. It happened in the middle of the block, not at a corner. I stopped. The boy was not severely injured, but possibly had a broken leg. I gave an account of what I had seen to the policewoman who arrived quickly on the scene. The woman driver was very distraught. As best I could tell, she told the story, much like my version of the story. There was no issue of speed or any other carelessness of the driver.
I assume the boy’s family was intending to sue the woman who likely had insurance. I do not believe she was to blame for what happened. I imagine they got a few thousand dollars out of the situation because the insurance would probably settle out of court for less than fighting the case.
I’m thinking of this issue today because I heard that some people are fighting Neil Gorsuch as a nominee to the Supreme Court because he “probably” is not for the “little” man. Well, in my situation above, I was not for the little man in spite of the fact I was sorry that his poor little leg was probably broken, and I knew he hurt really badly. And I knew he was only about nine years old, and he likely did not have a lot of experience for judging speed and distance. And he might not have known not to cross in the middle of the block. None of those things, however, should have any bearing on what the law and justice demand.
What does the law say? That is the purpose and duty of the members of the Supreme Court. They are not intended to rule on the basis of “feeling sorry for the little man.”