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November 20th, 2004

There’s a story I read somewhere of a judge interrupting an unsatisfactory witness and asking

Are you trying to flaunt your contempt for this court ?

to which the witness replies

Oh, no Your Honour! I’m trying to conceal it.

I was reminded of the story by this NYT editorial, which accuses a Rhode Island judge of abusing the contempt power to pursue a vindictive campaign against a reporter, Jim Taricani, but then fails to name the judge in question. A one-minute Google search reveals that the judge in question is Chief U.S. District Judge Ernest Torres Given that it was defending the right of reporters to publish the truth without fear or favor, what exactly did the NYT have in mind here?

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  1. Nicholas Gruen
    November 20th, 2004 at 21:39 | #1

    That line is in a Mae West movie – I think “She done him wrong” or “My little chickadee”. From memory

    Judge “If you don’t behave [or something to that effect] I’ll have to find you guilty of showing your contempt for this court”.

    Mae West “But your honour, I’m doing my level best to conceal it”.

  2. John Quiggin
    November 21st, 2004 at 06:39 | #2

    This reminds me that I should Google everything nowadays. The story is attributed to Wilson Mizner, but Mae West made it famous in My Little Chickadee, as you say.

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