SAN FRANCISCO LETTER [dated December 29, 1865]
THE BLACK HOLE OF SAN FRANCISCO
A PLEASANT FARCE - text not available
INSPIRATION OF LOUDERBACK
Louderback, Prosecuting Attorney in the Police Court, has discovered something at last. How it thrills me to think of it! For two long years I have waited patiently for that man to discover something, and he never could do it. He has always gone through with his same old formula, in every case before the Court, and has never shown any inclination to branch out into anything fresh. That formula was as follows: Mr. Louderback addresses the witness:
"Did this all happen in the city'n county of San Francisco? "
L.-- "You are sure of that, now? "
W-- "Yes, sure."
L.-- (With severity)-- "Remember, you are on your oath-- we can't have any prevarication here. You are certain it all happened in the city'n county of San Francisco?"
W-- "Yes; certain. I know it did."
L.-- (To witness)-- "That'll do-- set down" (To Judge)-- "Your honor, I don't think there is any use in hearing the evidence on the other side-- the defendant appears to be guilty."
As long as he flows along comfortably in that regular old groove of his, Louderback is bound to succeed-- is bound to succeed as well as he ever has done. And why he should suddenly bulge out and go to "discovering" things in this startling and unexpected manner, is a mystery to me, and must be a source of distress and uneasiness to his nurse. But here is what the Call says:
A practice has obtained in the Police Court, which will no doubt convince the public that San Francisco practitioners are as shrewd as 'Philadelphia lawyers.' It is a habit certain attorneys have of engaging to defend a person charged with some petty offense, and getting some other person to represent them, while they state to the Court that they are retained on behalf of the prosecution, and then have the Court dismiss the case without investigation, by stating there is no prospect of obtaining a conviction, and that the time of the Court would be needlessly occupied. The Prosecuting Attorney has discovered the dodge, and will hereafter resist all such motions.
"The Prosecuting Attorney has discovered the dodge" -- the Prosecuting Attorney discovered it! Good God!
PERSONAL - text not available
[reprinted in Mark Twain: San Francisco Correspondent, (Book Club of California, 1957), p. 96-97.]
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