March 18, 2005
Cast From Eden (i.e., court)
by Nick Morgan
March 18, 2005 02:46 PM
While Ben Glatstein is recognizing great analogies in legal reasoning, might I submit the following as entitled to top ten recognition? It's from Seiber v. Pettitt, 49 A. 763 (Pa. 1901), a lawsuit for "criminal conversation," which is the sexual "debauching" of another man's wife. This is just amazing:
If ever the manifest weight of the testimony established a fact, it established here long-continued adulterous intercourse. But the evidence pointed with more or less significance to the fact that the wife was as active in luring him from the path of virtue as he was in enticing her into his embraces . . . . The man who breaks up the home of his neighbor by debauching his wife, rendering his children worse than motherless, is not excused because he is weak, and, being tempted by the woman, falls . . . . It is but the old cowardly excuse set up by the first man, 'The woman gave me of the tree, and I did eat.' It did not save from the penalty the first defendant, and cannot, under the law, save this one.
One can only hope to some day be judged by a voice so deific, in the shadow of mankind's oldest precedent, the Lord's first injunction.
There is also the whole eating from the tree of knowledge metaphor to kick around. But seriously, wasn't there also an action for ejectment? And honestly, what's with the whole strict liability for eating apples thing?
Back in 1951 in my Criminal Law course, I first heard of "Criminal Conversation" and wondered why, with the First Amendment speech clause, there would be a crime involved with talking about it. But, I learned, this conversation could be soundless, except for the "ohs" and "ahs" and the "yes, yes, yes"es.