Monthly Archives: October 2016

Window into NC lawyers in the 19th Century, Kemp P. Battle’s memories

Kemp Plummer Battle

Kemp Plummer Battle

At the second-hand bookstore in the Raleigh-Durham airport the other day, I came across a copy of Memories of an Old-Time Tar Heel, the compendium of Kemp Plummer Battle’s memories and anecdotes. Himself a lawyer (also a railroad president, university president, Edgecombe County farmer, and more), so were his father, William Horn Battle, and others in his family.

So Battle’s memories include many a lawyer story. Those stories are windows into the North Carolina Bar in the mid-nineteenth century. Below is a good one that shows lawyers and also Battle’s densely-packed style.

Judge Thomas Ruffin, the younger, had probably the ability of his father. In his younger days, he was not a hard student of legal principles, although he gave his whole mind to the trial of his cases. Indeed, so eager was he for victory that there were accusations of sharp practice. But I personally had no evidence of this. On the contrary, when thrown intimately with him for a day or two once, I was struck by his high-toned principles. I remarked to one of the best of men, his law partner Judge Dillard, “Ruffin is a lawyer who can be relied on for utter fairness.” Dillard smilingly said, “He is a rascal like the rest of us.” He meant only that in the hot excitement of trials he might take positions which non-lawyers might think not strictly fair. But it should be remembered that lawyers giving their minds to the cause of their clients, studying mainly the arguments for their side, necessarily become biased. It is impossible for them to act as impartial judges. This is illustrated by what Judge James C. MacRae told me about a trial over which he presided. A certain lawyer made a speech advocating a construction of the law which did not meet the judge’s approval and he said, “Surely you do not claim that to the be the law?” “Well, Judge, I can’t say that I do, but I did not know how it would strike your Honor.”

Come to think of it, this practice may have survived the 19th Century.

Cahiers de Hoummous — “Cooks without Borders,” hummus insight bordering on wisdom

Cooks without Borders is a blog worth examining, if only for this one post:

Ottolenghi meets Zahav: Introducing the ultimate hummus recipe

She is asking the right questions of the right people.

And, she has also found two key secrets that MidLaw readers have seen before: (i) use canned chickpeas when you need to, and, when you do, (ii) you need to cook’em just a bit.

Cooks without Borders ihummusday-1431534933s a very good blog, even though it goes far afield from hummus. But, as good as that blog is, there is little or no commentary there about mid-size law firms, or about Tarboro or Edgecombe County, or about  North Carolina lawyers — and, there is nothing about the virtues of Guilford College, lifelong learning, or the liberal arts.

So, I’m not exactly sure why you’d read it. You need that stuff to go with your hummus.

Maybe you’d read it for the food commentary. Anyway, she’s got the hummus nuances about right.