LAW and DISORDER

MargaretBrownley-header

“The closest any of those lawyers came to

‘passing the bar’

was to walk by a saloon.”

                                            -Courting Trouble from Four Weddings and a Kiss

In Courting Trouble  my heroine Grace Davenport is in big trouble.—the kind of trouble no sane man would want to mess courtingtroublewith   Not even Wild West attorney Brock Daniels.  Not only is his beautiful  new client charged with killing her husband, her two previous husbands died under dire circumstances.  Things sure didn’t look good for Grace and when I sat down to write her story I had no idea how my hero would defend her. It was time to hit the books.

 My research for this story turned up many surprises. Namely, the number of lawyers required for frontier justice. Whenever a large mining boom began lawsuits were filed in incredible numbers. “Go west young man” went double for lawyers.

“We didn’t need laws until the lawyers got here.”

                                                                                                                            -disgruntled citizen

The wilder the town, the more lawyers (and doctors) it required. Not everyone welcomed the onslaught of lawyers, of course, but most accepted them as the cost of doing business.

Tombstone became a favorite gathering place for lawyers many of whom became rich and ran for office.  Residents dubbed the street occupied by lawyer offices Rotten Row.

A court could be held indoors or out.  In one  murder trial the jury sat on the coffin containing the corpse of the victim.  Most trials allowed for regular recesses for “liquid refreshment.”  One well-known lawyer was routinely locked up in a hotel room prior to trial to assure he would be sober enough to defend his clients.

Three for the price of one

 One of the strangest trials I ran across took place in California in 1845.  During the trial of Joseph Wilson, William Ide served as judge, prosecutor and defense attorney. As the district attorney, he questioned his witness and was careful to object to his own questions when needed.  He then moved to the bench to rule on the objection.

Women didn’t have the right to vote, but that didn’t keep them from making their presence known in court. Margaret Cody of Denver owned a notions shop with her husband but spent most of her time suing and being sued.  I found a dozen lawsuits she was involved in and that was just during Colorado’s Territorial years. When Colorado became a state, she happily continued to enjoy litigation far into old age.

It seems like everyone in the Wild West practiced law in one way or the other, which led a  character in my story to lament,  “Unless you know the trial of having a wife, you know nothing about law and order.”

Okay, I admit it; I’m hooked on The Good Wife (or was until they killed off Will). Anyone have a favorite TV or movie lawyer? 

margaret-brownley.com

So how does my hero defend the woman the town called the Black Widow?  You’ll have to read the story to find out.  While you’re at it, you won’t want to miss the other three stories (one by our very own Mary Connealy) in our exciting new collection.  To order just click the cover.

Here’s our exciting new June release!

 To order click coverNew Picture

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Margaret has published more than 46 books and is a N.Y. Times Bestselling author and two-time Romance Writers of America Rita Finalist. She writes historical novels set--where else?--in the Old West! She has written for a day time soap and is currently working on a new series. Not bad for someone who flunked 8th grade English. Just don't ask her to diagram a sentence.

24 thoughts on “LAW and DISORDER”

  1. Perry Mason -TV

    Al Pacino playing a a blind ex-army officer in Scent of a Woman when he represented Chris O’Donnell before the school’s disciplinary board -movie

  2. The collection sounds great, Margaret. And I love all your quirky sayings. They always make me smile.

    I’ve been a Law and Order fan for years. That show seemed to run forever, but it was always fresh and compelling to watch. I remember Andy Griffith’s Matlock. He was always so grandfatherly looking with that smile and bumbling style. Then he’d go in for the kill when you least expected it. Love those characters that are more than what they seem on the surface.

  3. Hi Karen, I’d forgotten all about Matlock. I love characters with the “Superman” gene. Bumbling or nerdy in appearance, but oh, so brilliant inside! I’m writing one of those characters now.

  4. Atticus Finch.

    I’m reading Michael Connelly right now, his Harry Bosch series and Connelly wrote The Lincoln Lawyer. LAPD Homicide Detective Harry Bosch’s half brother is the Lincoln Lawyer

  5. Vince Yates in my June release Stuck Together is a lawyer but he is too busy to do anything legal and besides he lives in a tiny wild west town where no one needs a lawyer. Still, he owns a set of law books and he’s read them. So to his way of thinking, that makes him a lawyer! 🙂

  6. Mary, you make me laugh! You’re just fill of lawyers aren’t you? Speaking of lawyers if you haven’t read Greg Iles’ new book Natchez Burning, I highly recommend it. His Penn Cage character is working on an interesting case involving his own father.

  7. Howdy Margaret, I’m laughing out loud at “Rotten Row.” This information is just terrific! And I can’t wait to read the stories in this book. Congrats! As for lawyers, not a big fan LOL of the profession: they need to use words people can understand LOL. But I do like The Good Wife. Mainly because of Chris Noth. The characters are all good and slimy in their own ways.

    Great post today!

  8. Margaret, Big Congrats on the new releases! How exciting to have two at once. You’ve hooked me on Courting Trouble. Oh my gosh, it sounds really fun. I got two Amazon gift cards for my birthday and they’re burning a hole in my pocket.

    Like some of the others have said, Perry Mason was my all-time favorite TV lawyer. But my all-time real lawyer was Temple Houston, youngest son of Sam Houston who was governor of Texas in the 1800’s. Temple was admitted to the bar at age 19 and cut quite a striking figure. He was 6’2″, long-haired, wore Prince Albert coats, elegant pin-striped trousers and a white sombrero. He carried a pair of ivory-gripped Colts and often fired them in court to make a point.

    Wishing you much success, Filly sister!

  9. Hi Linda, just to clarify, I have only one release. Courting Trouble is part of the Four Weddings and a Kiss collection. But the publisher is bringing each story out individually (eBook) and collectively (print and eBook). Don’t know why, but that’s how they’re doing things these days.

    I forgot about Temple Houston. I remember reading about him and thinking he’d make a fine hero in a romance.

    Take care!

  10. Thank you for the information. I had often wondered what legal practice was like in the Old West. As a practicing attorney, I am disheartened to discover that the public’s opinion on our characters are nothing new. However, I understand that there are those in my profession that show the prototype. I have often heard the questions, “How can you defend someone you know is guilty?” I always answer, “My job is not about guilt or innocence. It is about representing my client and protecting his or her interests and rights.” I am often reminded that it those persons that disdain my profession that want that exact type of representation, when it is their interests involved.

    I have also had a hard time with my profession, as we all know, Jesus was very hard on “the teachers of the law and lawyers” of his time. I just pray I mirror him in my work and he shines through, rather than my own selfish pride, which is hard to overcome sometimes.

    Again, thanks for the look into the legal practices of the Old West. I think I would have liked to practice during that time frame. Although, I think the jurisprudence has been greatly improved and provides greater protections (sometimes, too great) than then.

  11. Dora, thank you for such a thoughtful post. I imagine it is hard for lawyers to overcome poor public opinion. Yes, Jesus was hard on lawyers and so was Shakespeare and it does seem like they are disdained even today.But legal fiction and TV shows continue to be popular. Obviously, the profession holds a certain fascination. Maybe there’s comfort to be found in that.

    Have a great weekend!

  12. The cover for the anthology and novella is lovely.
    I have heard the name Rotten Row, but never knew that it referred to the street where lawyers had their offices. Was that just in Tombstone or in general use?
    I love anthologies and this one is now on my list.

  13. Hi Patricia B
    As far as I know, Rotten Row was a term used solely in Tombstone to describe the street of lawyers.

    I know there’s a Rotten Row in London. Rotten Row is actually a corruption of the The King’s Road in French. There’s also a Rottenrow, Scotland, which oddly enough is also a corruption of The King’s Road. Do you see a pattern here?

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