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WHAT IS WRITTEN ABOUT: James Shellow

 

Gerry Spence writes
This fellow, Shellow, has hidden himself from international stardom long enough.  He has finally come out with it, and if you miss him and this monstrous little book you will fade away a lesser lawyer.

Here’s where I’m coming from:  I do not do drug cases.  They involve chemistry.  You see, my father was a chemist.  My mother was likewise.  They mixed around in their respective chemistry and came up with me.  I listened to chemistry talk at the dinner table and the supper table and at breakfast the next morning until one day I turned into a glowering, pimpled blob of juvenile insurrection against all that claimed to be scientific.

But then years later I met this Shellow fellow, this engaging, unpredictable, irascible trial lawyer, this walking, talking load of unquenched curiosity, this chemist, this scientist, this challenging humanoid who came laughing down from outer space and wanted to test everything, and I mean everything.  Had I met him as a youngster I probably would have emulated his rejection of conventional thought and become another Louis Pasteur or something.

But Shellow is a trial lawyer who is happier still to aim his intellectual disobedience at any presented proposition, especially one offered up by those pretended scientists of the prosecution.  They stand at his mercy, and those who claim to be experts in the identification of narcotics or forbidden drugs and who work for the government are fair game, one and all.  Have no pity.  They deserve, but do not relish, Shellow’s justice.

This book is about a way to think.  It is a book about rebelling against conventional theories and standard postulates. It’s about thumbing one’s intellectual nose at so-called scientific methodology when it is little more than subjective opinion and guessing - and it’s about having fun doing it.  You could take nearly any example of the many cross-examinations Shellow sets out here and read them for the pure pleasure of it.  Chemistry teachers should read this book and teach their students with his methods.  He gives credit to Frank Oliver and Socrates but I say both would have tipped their hats to Shellow.

There’s an honest playfulness in Shellow’s cross-examinations that one rarely encounters in a courtroom, and surely that one never witnesses in some dismal, shabby chemical laboratory in places where charlatans gather and come to their unimpeachable conclusions that Exhibit A is the forbidden stuff.  I have set this book on my desk, in front of me, where I can see it plainly, like one sees a ready friend in a lonely place, and when I want to work on the cross-examination of some expert - of any expert - I take it in my hands with reverence.  It is Shellow speaking, poking, asking, and leading the expert over the edge where the expert will surely drop into the black abyss of the stripped-naked pretender.  Oh, what fun!  And what a gift, at last, to justice.

Foreword, Cross-Examination of the Analyst in Drug Prosecutions

I know now that it actually started long before I had ever heard of Kim Pring’s case, when my pawky, precocious friend, the famous criminal trial lawyer from Milwaukee, Jim Shellow, introduced me to the Malleus Maleficarum, The Witches’ Hammer, the evil old tome by which millions of women were persecuted, tortured, and burned as witches in the two and a half centuries following its publication in 1487. With uncanny insight and more courage than an intelligent lawyer should display, Shellow sometimes cited the Mallleus to judges whose righteous breath, whose zeal and fervor for respite against some poor wretch before them was in perfect harmony with the pernicious spirit by which witches were persecuted – it being obvious to Shellow, as, quite frankly, it is to me, that the witch trial, under the force of the same blind and bigoted judiciary that does not care a whit for the human spirit, it is a common occurrence in the courtroom today – that nothing really changes, least of all that mean spirit of arrogant authority that craves to wield its malevolent power over those helpless wretches, those caught in the clutches of the state and charged with crimes, or those who are injured – the maimed, the defamed, the forgotten and the damned who pound at the doors of the judiciary begging for justice.

Introduction, Trial by Fire

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