by Lowman S. Henry | December 21, 2002

Finding ways to look ridiculous and out-of-touch comes easy to many politicians.  Just ask Trent Lott.

Actually, you don’t have to go all the way to Washington, D.C. to find a politician with his foot in his mouth.  Just go to the august chambers of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court and ask for Chief Justice Stephen Zappala.

Truly here is a guy with no sense of humor, and an unwarranted high opinion of himself and the office he holds.  He and fellow Justice Ralph Cappy got their robes in a ruffle a few weeks back because the newest member of their court, Justice Michael Eakin, decided to write one of his opinions in rhyme.

Eakin, a former Cumberland County District Attorney who became a Common Pleas Court Judge, then rose to the statewide Commonwealth Court, and a year ago ascended to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court is an eminently qualified jurist.  He also something most other members of his profession are not “a real, down-to-earth person.”

It is clear the rarified air of the Supreme Court has not changed Justice Eakin, who has had a penchant for years of periodically penning his decisions in verse.  A little rhyme here and there to loosen the legal system’s stifling boredom.

So it was that the case of the aggrieved fiancé came before Justice Eakin.  It seems a young lady became engaged to a wealthy, much older man who presented her with a stunning engagement ring.  It turned out the ring he represented as being genuine and worth $23,000 was actually worthless cubic zirconium.  The engagement ended up on the fake rocks and a lawsuit ensued.

Somehow this mess ended up before the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, which in itself makes a mockery of the judicial system, but the high court ruled the misrepresentation of the ring was not fraud.

Justice Eakin disagreed saying:

            A groom must expect
Matrimonial pandemonium
When his spouse finds he™s given
Her cubic zirconium
Given their history and
Pygmalion relation
I find her relance was with

The Eakin verse didn’t sit well with Chief Justice Zapalla who told Eakin that “an opinion that expresses itself in rhyme reflects poorly on the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania.”   Justice Cappy weighed in expressing “concern” about how the public might view such a writing style.

Mr. Cappy should be more concerned about how we the people view him and his colleague the chief justice.  I for one view them as the personification of judicial arrogance, something that there is an abundant quantity of in this country.  Guys you made jokes of yourself by agreeing to hear such a ridiculous case, and Justice Eakin showed he has not lost touch with the real world.

So in tribute to the esteemed-by-himself Chief Justice let us end with this …

Justices Zappala and Cappy
At rhyme were not happy
That with star-crossed lovers Mike Eakin
Sympathized that her heart was a breakin’
The court’s dignity they felt undermined
Because in verse he had opined
In truth your opposition to his ditty
Shows you are just a bit dimwitty.