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PORTSIDE  December 2011, Week 1

PORTSIDE December 2011, Week 1

Subject:

Tidbits - December 5, 2011

From:

Portside Moderator <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

[log in to unmask]

Date:

Mon, 5 Dec 2011 21:41:00 -0500

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (122 lines)

Tidbits - December 5, 2011

* Re: Clarence Darrow: Jury Tamperer? (Richard
Rosenthal and Ken Hill) 
* Re: Report Finds Charters Struggling Like Other CPS
Schools (Claire Carsman)

==========

* Re: Clarence Darrow: Jury Tamperer?

Please forward my thanks to Johna Farrell for his fine
article about Darrow, a hero of mine since the 1930's
or early 40's when I read Stone's book.  Please publish
more articles like this and fewer predictable
ideological rants, which I usually agree with, but
nonetheless find boring & restrictive of your reporting
scope.

Richard Rosenthal

===

I haven't read Farrell's Darrow biography. My
impression, from reviews, was that it's highly worth
reading, but that its claim of new revelations about
Darrow's life is somewhat inflated. The Smithsonian
article was well-written, and Darrow's letter to his
son, I suppose, is about as close to hard evidence as
we are likely to get, but I don't think anyone is going
to see it as a shocking revelation. Farrell says that
the second trial ended in a hung jury. That's true, but
somewhat misleading. It would be more accurate to say
it ended in a negotiated settlement: Clarence Darrow
agreed not to practice law in California in return for
the State agreeing not to retry that count.

Farrell also neglects to mention that Darrow's move to
the practice of criminal law was not wholly voluntary.
Previously, Darrow had been forced to give up his
lucrative corporate practice because of his defense of
Eugene Debs. In the years after that, he established a
similarly lucrative practice as a labor lawyer. AFL
leadership were never wholly comfortable with Darrow;
for some, he was too radical, while others saw him as
an opportunist. All were dismayed by his handling of
the McNamara Brothers case, not just the bribery
accusations but the plea bargain that Darrow negotiated
for the brothers. (It almost certainly was the best
outcome they could have expected, and they were
unquestionably guilty.) After that, the criminal law
was pretty much the only field left to Darrow. In his
summary of Darrow's cases, there is a strange omission,
Darrow's last famous case, the Massie case. Like the
Sweet case, the Massie case had very strong racial
elements, but in the Massie case, Darrow represented
what most would now consider, and many then considered,
the racialist side. Four White defendants were charged
with the murder of a native Hawaiian man, whom they
believed to be guilty of the rape of a Navy officer's
wife. Darrow did not attempt to deny the defendants'
involvement in the death. His defense was "the
unwritten law." (The Massie defendants were convicted
of manslaughter, but the Territorial Governor commuted
their sentence to a token one.)

I don't point out these things out of any wish to
diminish Darrow. I've often made admiring references to
him here or quoted him. He was one of the titans of
American law and of American intellectual and political
life. I think he is worth knowing and understanding in
his full humanity. Granted, John Farrell had a limited
space in the Smithsonian article, and he was focusing
on the McNamara case. Still, I got the impression that
Farrell somehow felt he had to polish Darrow up a
little for the 21st century.

Ken Hill

==========

* Re: Report Finds Charters Struggling Like Other CPS
Schools

A simple statement from retired teacher and
administrator, Charter Schools are nothing but an
excuse to no longer support public education in this
Country.  We don't need pages and pages of  excuses
about how are education system isn't working.  Our
education system isn't working because we have bought
into test scores and we are no longer interesting in
teaching kids how to read and think. Michelle Rhee is a
horrible anti-teacher, anti-kid person. Her goal and
others like her want to turn public schools into
institutions of failure.  It sucks, and it's bad for
teachers who can no longer teach and for kids who no
longer have the opportunity to learn.  Reading? 
Thinking?  What happened to John Dewey and the thought
that a democracy depends on an educated public?

Claire Carsman

==========

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