Part 1: What's Real Intelligence--about the World and Ourselves?

Part 2: What's Real Intelligence--about the World and Ourselves?

Part 3: What's Real Intelligence--about the World and Ourselves?


My Bio



Aesthetic Realism seminar:
What's Real Intelligence--about the World and Ourselves?, part 2
with a discussion of Samuel Leibowitz
& the Scottsboro Case
By Michael Palmer

 It was his knowledge of ballistics in a noted case in the 1920's that vaulted Leibowitz to national attention.  Harry Hoffman, a motion picture operator, had been charged with abducting and killing a female motorist after her car had broken down on a Staten Island roadway.  The evidence seemed to point to Hoffman, and he was convicted, but he was able to win a second trial on a technicality.  When his attorney died, Hoffman appealed to Leibowitz to take the case, which he did. And after intensive study, Leibowitz was able to prove that Hoffman couldn't have killed the woman because the trajectory of the murder bullet showed it came from a righthanded shooter, while Hoffman was lefthanded.  He left the court a free man. 

     But, along with persons like Hoffman, Leibowitz also defended career criminals such as Al Capone and Vincent "Mad Dog" Coll. Trying to justify himself, he said he felt everyone has the right to a proper defense. But what did he really feel, trying to free those he knew were doing great harm to humanity?  In Self and World, Mr. Siegel describes a basic conflict of a lawyer when he writes:

"the desire on his part to be useful comes deviously, and sometimes head-on, against the desire to be comfortable. If he chooses the comfortable there will be protest within him."
There was protest within Leibowitz as he got notoriety and big money defending such men as Coll and Capone.  This deviousness was against real intelligence and he became increasingly reluctant to represent underworld characters, saying each new case was “a backbreaking chore,” and “the strain had become intolerable.” Just what the strain was I don’t think he was clear about, but as time went on the conflict intensified.  Writes Reynolds:
"He seldom slept more than an hour or two during a difficult trial. He [felt] he mustn’t lose;….[He knew] every district attorney in New York hoped to be the one to beat Leibowitz in a major case. "
     While my life is very different from that of Leibowitz, I too, was in a fight between wanting to be useful to people and a desire to be liked by flattering or joking.  I would avoid being really interested or deep about a person’s life.  And this was literally taking life out of me.  Once, in a class where I spoke somewhat smoothly about a friend I care for, Ms. Reiss asked me questions that had me make a more intelligent choice. "As you think about people,” she asked, “is there a deep feeling, ‘God, I want this person to succeed?' Do you want who you are to really be engaged in having a person be all they can be?...Do you think you’re afraid ? 
MP:   I like to avoid controversy. 

ER:   But, before you really say anything, there is how you think. If you were to have a conversation with Mr. Jones about what he is looking for-and you were really thinking of him and what he was hoping for and you were asking questions from the depth and not giving up—what would happen to you—would you be more yourself or less yourself?

MP:  I think, more.

ER:  Does it excite you? [Can you think] here’s a person I have a chance to add to, and to be added to by?  Do you think that is the most important American sport?...There’s a kind of good will for another Michael Palmer wants to get to.

She was right and I thank her for encouraging intelligence in me. It’s made me a more useful, happier person.

The Scottsboro Case —A Call for Good Will 
and Intelligence

 In 1931, in the midst of the Great Depression, the nation's interest was captivated by the Scottsboro Casethe trials of nine young Black men in the deep South, facing the death penalty on charges of raping two white women on a freight train between Chatanooga, Tennessee and Huntsville, Alabama.  A number of black and white youths and the women had all hopped on the train at the Chatanooga railyards. At some point, there was a fight and five of the whites were tossed off the train. Authorities in Scottsboro, Alabama stopped the train, arrested the black youths as the two women came forth, saying they'd been raped by the defendants. 

    For conclusion click here

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