Scholarly Articles and Other Contributions
 

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2003

Abstract

This article explores the many and varies legal characters that populated the bench and bar in Mark Twain’s work. Judges and lawyers have long captivated the minds and talents of authors, and Twain was a prolific creator of jurisprudential characters. This article’s thesis is that a careful study of Twain’s fiction reveals a disturbing pattern of inconsistency between the conduct of his attorneys and judges and the quality of justice that their actions bring about. In all too many of Twain’s tales, true “justice” is far more likely to be achieved where lawyers and judges violate legal rules through deception, ignorance, and disregard for basic procedural and substantive rules. The converse is also true. So many of Twain’s lawyers and judges who do follow the substantive and procedural letters of the law often become parties to grave injustice. The paper’s most important task is to discuss the lessons to be learned from this paradoxical portrayal of legal action. It is the hope that the discomfort that twain’s legal characters generate may inspire, in his readers, the desire to view legal conduct critically to ensure that, unlike in Twain’s work, there is no dichotomy between following the rules of the legal system and the achievement of true justice.

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