The Distinctive Vocabulary of a New York Lawyer

July 29, 2010

Back when I lived in Texas there was an TV ad (it may have run nationally) for a certain picante sauce made in San Antonio.  In the ad, a cook for a bunch of cowboys sitting around a campfire makes the mistake of using a picante sauce made in … New York City!  The last line of dialogue is, “Get a rope!”  Ha ha ha.  You used a New York hot sauce, therefore we will kill you.

The new Chairman of the Texas Forensics Science Commission demonstrated much the same mentality when he dismissed attention on the case of Cameron Willingham (executed in 2004 despite a severely flawed arson investigation) as a political tactic cooked up by “New York lawyers.”

Today, it was revealed that he used the same label for a Dallas Morning News reporter who dared to submit to him a list of questions about the Commission’s handling of the Willingham affair.  “The questions have the distinctive vocabulary of a New York lawyer,” Mr. Bradley wrote before refusing to provide any answers.

Mr. Bradley just can’t understand why New York lawyers (and Dallas reporters who sound like them) are so obsessed with the quality of arson investigations that have been used to convict hundreds of Texans, and may have sent one wrongly to his death.