Page:The Green Bag (1889–1914), Volume 25.pdf/532

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The Rules of the Game the law and the equity of the books — and the great common law and chancery rules lying around loose everywhere to fill in the chinks overlooked by the statutes — harmonize with justice? The case had been fully and fairly presented. The evidence, under the liberal rules of his court, made the facts quite clear. The arguments of counsel on both sides had been con cluded. There was no serious con troversy as to the facts. And, indeed, there was no appreciable difference of opinion expressed by the lawyers on the opposing sides as to the law. There was unanimity among all in the court room as to "the natural and inherent justice of the case." The diffi culty at hand consisted in endeavoring to apply the law to the facts in such a way as to harmonize with "justice," and — keep within the law. The lawyer for the claimant-executor contended that the law was in complete harmony The counsel with justice for theinresiduary this case. legatee had nothing to say about justice. That was not his cue. He was not interested j ust then in justice. He was not retained to defend or look after justice. Justice could take care of itself. It was not his affair. Besides, he was an ex-judge himself and well versed in the techni calities of his mistress. What he was there for was to uphold the majesty of the law; not of justice, nor yet of the equity of the books. He wanted for his client what the law gave, the full technical letter of the law — nothing less and nothing more. He wanted the pound of flesh — but of course he did not put it that way. The case was simple. The material evidence was undisputed. It was the lawyers who were disputing, and making vicious jabs at each other, and at the ex ecutor, a lawyer not in active practice.

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An old maiden lady had died leaving her all, a small patrimony, by will to her brother. She named her nephew as executor. She had depended entirely upon this nephew during the last three years of her life. He provided a house for her, cared for, supported her, and paid most of the bills. The legatee brother staid away, paid nothing, and let the nephew take all the responsibility, and also pay the bills. The estate consisted principally of a note against the nephew-executor. It had been understood, or at least legally implied, that what he paid for her was to be applied on this note. This would use up about half of the note. Having the note in his possession, to apply the payments thereon and make an adjustment, the executor neglected to regularly file a claim against the estate. He had always held the note — both before and after the testatrix's death. So he made the adjustment on the back of the note on December 22, that being the date he had made the en dorsements in the years that had gone before. It so happened that the time for filing claims expired December 29, a week later. Of this the executor was entirely unconscious at the time. It was not until long thereafter, upon filing his final account, that his lawyer discovered to him his predicament — that it was necessary for him to file his claim, that he had failed to do so, that the time had expired, and that his claim was therefore barred. The legatee brother, whose interest in the sister developed after her decease, knew the claim was just and equitable, and that as a matter of simple decency it ought first to be paid before he took the estate. But he stood on the strict letter of the law, he insisted on his