Pulling a Paul Drake

Back in the days of black and white television one of the biggest hits on the tube was Perry Mason.   Based on the character introduced in the the novels written by Erle Stanley Gardner, Raymond Burr played undefeated (or at least it seemed that way) attorney Perry Mason.  He was assisted by his dashing private investigator Paul Drake (played by William Hopper.)

It was a 30 minute show and as a general rule the show ended with Perry breaking down a key witness through brilliant cross-examination or Paul Drake would peek in through the courtroom doors with a missing witness or other key piece of evidence in hand.  Perry would ask for a brief recess and the Paul would cruise down the aisle to the front of the court and present Perry with goods that would turn the case in his client’s favor.

To me, that is “pulling a Paul Drake.”  I have always wanted to show up in some courthouse with the that key witness or other evidence that will blow the case wide open.  I’ve come close, but I’ve never had a moment that dramatic in my career.  In fact, it is unlikely that I ever will.  Modern rules of discovery mean that all the digging for evidence should be done before the parties go in the courtroom.  Therefore, it is highly unlikely that anything of a last-minute nature would get before a trier of fact (jury or judge.)

Just the same, when I do find some really good nugget that goes a long way toward helping my client’s case, I think about peeking in the courtroom, getting my client’s attention and then “pulling a Paul Drake.”

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