This book is dedicated to my friend Judge Pat Brian, after whom Judge O’Shea is modeled. Judge Brian copied the quote at the beginning of this book from the original ruling in the Ft. Smith, Arkansas courthouse presided over by the original Judge Roy Bean. And Pat subsequently used it as a model for some “creative sentencing rhetoric” in his own courtroom. Pat died of pancreatic cancer on June 28, 2010. Three months earlier, I delivered an early draft of Daddy’s Little Felons to him. His wife Sherry reported that he laughed out loud many times over the few days it took him to read it. Here’s to you, Your Honor.And the quote mentioned above was an original he'd copied by hand during a visit to Judge Roy Bean's Fort Smith, Arkansas museum. Pat Brian subsequently used versions of the Judge Bean ruling in his own court as he handed down extremely poetic sentences. Here's the Judge Roy Bean quote:
Jose Manuel Miguel Xaviar Gonzales, in a few short weeksit will be spring. The snows of winter will flow away, the icewill vanish, the air will become soft and balmy. In short,Jose Manuel Miguel Xaviar Gonzales, the annual miracle ofthe years will awaken and come to pass. But you won’t behere. The rivulet will run its soaring course to the sea. Thetimid desert flowers will put forth their tender shoots. Theglorious valleys of this imperial domain will blossom as therose. Still, you will not be here to see. From every treetop,some wild woods songster will carol his mating song.Butterflies will sport in the sunshine. The gentle breeze willtease the tassels of the wild grasses, and all nature, JoseManuel Miguel Xaviar Gonzales, will be glad. But you willnot be here to enjoy it.Because I command the sheriff of the county to lead youaway to some remote spot, swing you by the neck from aknotting bough of some sturdy oak, and let you hang untildead. And then, Jose Manuel Miguel Xaviar Gonzales, Ifurther command that such officer retire quickly from yourdangling corpse, that the vultures may descend from theheavens upon your filthy body until nothing shall remain butbare, bleached bones of a cold blooded, bloodthirsty,throat-cutting, murdering son of a bitch.
Once a year for about four years, I'd take my Explorer Scouts to sit in on hizonner's Friday "show cause" hearings. A show-cause hearing completely encapsulates the legal process. Someone is re-arrested for anything from parole violation to not following the judge's explicit instructions for self-recognizance release, and they must go before the judge to explain themselves. Believe me, this is better than television.Judge Roy Bean, Fort Smith, Arkansas, 1881. The crime occurred on a Saturday night. The trial finished by Sunday noon, and the sentence was executed before 1:00 PM the same day.
One of my sixteen-year-old Explorers was sitting the gallery, enjoying the proceedings along with the company of an attractive young lady. They were just about to exchange phone numbers when her case was called. For prostitution. Talk about one mortified Explorer Scout!
Pat Brian had the nation's lowest recidivism rate, and I confess that defense attorneys hated it when my scouts came to visit the judge's court, because Pat seemed really keyed up to perform for the boys. Some of his special one-liners really raised some eyebrows: "I hope you brought a toothbrush, because you're going to jail!"The ACLU also seemed extra attentive to Judge Brian's sentences, perhaps because they thought making a drunk driver wear an "I AM A DRUNK DRIVER" T-shirt in lieu of jail time constituted cruel and unusual punishment.
All I can say is that the drunk driver should thank Baby Jesus he didn't live in Singapore (see the YouTube video of a first-offense).
Of my 18 Explorer Scouts one year, 4 became attorneys, 5 became doctors, and 4 became airline pilots. Judge Brian inspired the attorneys, my internist and doctor friend Grant Hawkins was an assistant, and my Delta Airline pilot friends Bill Peterson, Jim Althaus and Don Wilkinson also worked extensively with the boys. Just goes to show how powerful a good example can be in helping a young man set some life goals. Come to think of it, a couple of my former scouts have become quite successful in advertising.
The point of this is not only did Pat Brian inspire some young men to go into the legal profession, but he inspired me to write this novel.
Thank you, Your Honor.