A Matter of Principle

Meet Earl Warren.  No, not THAT one.  Earl’s real namesake was Uncle Earl, not the famous Supreme Court Justice.  But he did have an all-consuming passion for the law.

His first experience in court was as a young man, pleading guilty (because, well, he was guilty) to a speeding ticket.  The judge, pleasantly surprised at his honesty, cut Earl’s fine in half.  Thus began his education into how the law really works - and a journey through the courts of Florida, and all the way to the highest court in the land:

The U.S. Supreme Court.  

There Chief Justice Moorehead, more politician than judge, awaited those fateful papers bearing the name of his hated historical rival – papers that would eventually prove to be his undoing.  

The story of what became, for Earl, a Pyrrhic Defeat of epic proportions began in law school, where he saw his classmates transformed from regular human beings with a conscience into veritable machines, driven by emotionless logic and ambition, leaving him in the dust as he alone continued to cling to his idealism.  But there was one person who seemed to understand him.  

Marilyn was everything Earl was not.  She worked hard to reach the top of her class, trying her best to mentor Earl in the ways of how to succeed in law school, but it just didn’t seem to take.  He continued to tilt at windmills, challenging the citation when he got caught for having a beer at the beach, and appealing a speeding ticket because, well, this time, he wasn’t guilty.     

That last tilt would, years later, end up on the desk of Chief Justice Moorehead, who was locked in a behind-the-scenes battle with Justice Baker, leader of what was left of the liberal wing of the court and Moorhead’s hated nemesis.  Their feud eventually became centered on the hapless appeals to their conscience made by Earl.

Earl eventually graduated, following Marilyn to Miami, where he opened a law practice, taking on civil rights cases and representing Haitian refugees.  She didn’t seem to mind, even though he did not fit in so well with her upwardly mobile, young professional friends and colleagues.   But there was always a little bit of daylight between them.

Meanwhile, back at the Supreme Court, Moorehead’s nostrils flared when he saw the papers on his desk bearing the name of one Earl Warren.  But the unseemly manner by which he lashed out at Earl shocked and horrified his colleagues.  Undeterred, Moorehead published his diatribe in a court opinion.  

The result was not what he expected.