Judge Thorpe rests his eyes

[page 72, line 24]

Tom Thorpe I believe was the imminent jurist. Y’all have had many imminent jurists over here in Dallas. I was trying a rather sleepy case. It took a half day to present the evidence, but it was not an exciting case. My man was charged as being a con guy pulling a deal and taking — was charged with theft, and the victims were two young men which I was trusting the jury would figure out were gay. Back in those days we didn’t have enough sense not to play to prejudice, and I thought that was going to work. So the trial went on. It broke a record even for me because I counted in the course of that trial — and I believe it was Judge Thorpe was the judge. I counted — there were seven jurors asleep. Five of them at one time. This case took only a half an afternoon. The judge, in my opinion was also asleep.

Well, the jury apparently dozed — slept through the good parts about this case listening to the ones that were awake, and they found my guy guilty. And I got fired. There was a motion for new trial, and I was called as a witness to testify at the motion for new trial about everybody sleeping. Well, I opined that at least seven jurors were asleep, five at one time. And not being a complete fool and I — because Judge Thorpe was presiding at the motion for new trial.

And I said, “Well, it appeared” — when asked, I said, “It appeared that Judge Thorpe was asleep also.” Judge Thorpe said, “Just a minute. I want to make sure the record is clear. I was just resting my eyes. I was not asleep.”

Well, having been a visiting judge for the last five years, a whole lot of it in this county, I think that there is opportunity for judges to need to rest their eyes. I guess I do that from time to time.

Now, I’m going to leave. I know some of these other fine gentlemen are much more capable than I in giving you great words of wisdom, great observations. They participated in the making of the history of this great community and state. You’ve heard of Judge Richburg of course if you’ve been in Dallas any length of time. But over in Hunt County we had our nearest but pale attempt at that. His name was Judge Homer Wacasey. He had been a county commissioner in the 40’s a couple of different times. Then he because a justice of the peace. As a brand new lawyer I would go and talk to him, and he was kind enough to talk to me. He was about 78 years old at the time and I said, “Judge Wacasey” — I guess I was 24 or 23. I said, “Judge Wacasey, how old do you get before you begin — how old is it that you get to where you start — when you start failing to notice a good-looking woman?” I’m trying to work this. A lot of these good stories have to be improved, and I’m trying to clean this one up a little bit. But anyway, I said,

“How old is it that you get, Judge, before you fail to notice good-looking women all the time?” He said, “Paul, I’m 78 years old, and you’ll have to ask somebody a whole lot older than I am.”

The other thing and what I would like to leave you with is that he told me something. And although I’ve been a criminal lawyer, been involved in criminal law all these years, he told me that prisons don’t make for good men. He told me that old age makes for good men. And I thought about that and observed perhaps my own conduct and think there’s some merit to that. And I’m happy to report to you, folks, that I still notice good-looking women, and I’m on my way to being a better man. Thank you.


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