De Gustibus - Poem by gershon hepner
De gustibus they say the law
knows nothing, meaning it’s a waste
of time if we do not ignore
our differences involving taste.
But though the law knows nothing, we
set up ourselves as arbiters,
with expertise that’s offered free,
rabbis, priests and carpeters
who hope that those who take a sample
of their advice will buy the store.
Though we may judge, we may not trample
on tastes we rightfully deplore.
Adam Liptak writes about President George W. Bush’s nominee for Attorney-General (“Nuance and Resolve in Rulings by Attorney General Nominee, ” NYT, September 23,2007) :
Judge Mukasey did not tolerate sharp conduct in litigation before him. “There is a school of thought that teaches that the best defense is a good offense, ” he wrote in imposing fines on a lawyer and his client for submitting an affidavit that he said contradicted the facts. “That school of thought may prevail on a battlefield or the athletic field; it should not prevail in the courthouse.” In 1995, he denied a request for a trial adjournment. “It is hard to credit a claim that counsel do not have the time to prepare for trial when they have used their energies to produce on the eve of trial 65 tendentious pages of argument” seeking the adjournment, Judge Mukasey wrote. When a former publicist for Marla Maples, Donald Trump’s second wife, filed a series of frivolous lawsuits, Judge Mukasey barred the courthouse door, forbidding him to file “any civil lawsuit in a court of the United States, regardless of the subject matter, without first obtaining leave of such court.” For good measure, he ordered the publicist, Charles Jones, “to staple a copy of this opinion to any future complaint.” Judge Mukasey’s court, the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, handles more than its share of major commercial disputes, securities fraud cases and complex criminal prosecutions. But some of Judge Mukasey’s cases concerned quotidian matters. In 1992 he refused to halt a television commercial that mocked Coors Light. “The parties have vigorously disputed whether the taste of beer, unlike the taste of milk, is adversely affected by pasteurization, ” Judge Mukasey wrote, responding with some newly coined legal Latin. “De gustibus cerevesiae non scit lex, ” he wrote, meaning, presumably, that the law takes no account of taste in weak beer.
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