We're "ok" with stooping so low in Poetic Justice: Law Poems as to include a judge's inspiration to rhyme-out his reasons for judgment. Why he would do so is beyond us but if he is that eccentric, we've got to support that!

Born, raised, and after a 10-year practise as an attorney, Justice Eakin now sits in Pennsylvania. He has been an elected judge since 2001 (the picture, below, was taken of his 2004 swearing-in ceremony).

One doubts that he'd be overly impressed with the opinion once voiced in 1975 by the Supreme Court of Kansas (Re Rome):

"Judicial humor is neither judicial nor humorous. A lawsuit is a serious matter to those concerned in it. For a judge to take advantage of his criticism-insulated, retaliation-proof position to display his wit is contemptible, like hitting a man when he's down."

These are, quite simply, his formal reasons for Judgment in Conrad Busch (appellant) v Geraldine Busch (appellee). On at least six ocasions has Eakin published his reasons in verse - see, for example, his dissent in A Horse Is a Horse Of Course. In Busch, he was sitting in appeal of a lower court judgment that had sided with Geraldine:

Conrad Busch filed a timely appeal,
Trying to avoid a premarital deal.
Which says appellee need not pay him support,
He brings his case, properly, before this Court.

He seeks to reverse the alleged miscarriage
Of enforcing the contract he signed 'ere the marriage.
Before we address how he grinds this ax,
We set out the trial court's findings of facts.

{Note: here, Justice Eakin briefly set out the facts of the law reports in normal judicial form before resuming verse.}

Justice Michael EakinThese factual findings are not in dispute
It isn't the facts appellant wants to refute.
It's the legal conclusions he would have us eschew
And therefore Busch sets forth for review.

No longer living in marital bliss,
Busch says the judge was reversibly amiss
For not overturning the pre-nup he signed
Before he and his bride had their lives intertwined.

Our standard of review is a narrow one:
Is there an abuse of discretion in what was done?
Was there an error in the law's application?
Or is this appeal mere financial frustration?

Appellant's mind may repose quite contented,
For his arguments have been very ably presented.
But while both his issues are very well taken,
Their premise, while arguable, we must find mistaken.

A pre-nup's a contract, and the parties are bound,
To honor its terms if disclosure is found.
To include fair recital of what each one's got,
Before it's put into the marital pot.

Full and fair the disclosure must be free
Of fraud or dishonesty.
Of this the parties had to agree
And set this out in paragraph three.

As the contract provides such disclosure occurred,
It falls on appellant to do more than demur.

He's now got the burden to prove otherwise
By clear and convincing evidence, not surmise.
The trial court in making its thoughtful decision,
Looked first to the testimonial deposition,

In which Busch admitted disclosure was made
Both he and his bride had a schedule to trade.
And trade them they did, though they were not appended,
To the contract whose terms remained unamended.

But clearly appellant was given the chance,
To review hers but chose not to give it a glance.
The first issue appellant has artfully hatched
Relies on the fact no disclosures attached.

The pre-nup says otherwise, which appellant contends
Means disclosure is not as the contract demands

Busch claims non-attachment means her compilation
Was lacking in contractual integration
Making the contract voidable now;
This is a conclusion we cannot allow

Busch wasn't concerned about his fiancee's possessions
For he knew her precision was near to obsession;
Her summarization would be clear and precise,
So he chose not to read it, despite counsel's advice.

When offered the chance to look at her estate
Busch declined, which settles this issue's fate.
By doing so, he waived attaching the list
The reference to exhibits need not even exist.

The issue is fairness;  were things fully disclosed?
Clearly her assets were completely exposed,
So enforcing the contract we cannot prohibit
For mere want of a staple attaching an exhibit.

Wife listed all her stocks and other property,
And estimated what their value might be.
Now he says her figures were stale and too low,
their worth was much higher, and he'd the right to know.

This is true in so far as his reasoning goes,
But this right was waived, the moment he chose
Not to look at her assets. In his blissful condition
He never relied on the list's composition.

Her listing of stocks and all the shares held
Was on her disclosure, and Husband could tell
What they were worth, if he really cared,
By opening the paper to see how they fared.

This contrasts with the Ebersole facts
As our case has something that Ebersole lacks.
There, a catch-all phrase lumped all the many
"Financial assets" of the marriage, "if any".

This aggregation was too vague to be fair,
As one couldn't tell what assets were there.
No matter how much Mr. Busch may implore us
This isn't the same as the contract before us.

In our case the assets were all clearly shown,
By the full list of holdings Mrs. Busch then owned.
So appellant's reliance on the Ebersole case,
While understandable, nonetheless is misplaced.

Busch had been married before, so he knew
What a pre-nuptial contract's intended to do;
When taking this wife, (he'd been wed twice before),
It's certain appellant knew what was the score.

He'd had a pre-nup with his previous wife,
And sought to avoid any mischief or strife
By asking his bride for a pre-nup himself,
To allow her to insulate personal wealth.

They wanted to marry, their lives to enhance,
Not for the dollars - it was for romance.
When they said "I do," had their wedding day kiss,
It was not about money - only marital bliss.

But a deal's a deal, if fairly undertaken,
And we find disclosure was fair and unshaken.
Appellant may shun that made once upon a time,
But his appeal must fail, lacking reason (if not rhyme)

REFERENCES:

  • Duhaime, Lloyd, Poetic Justice: Law Poems
  • Eakin, Michgael, Liddle v Scholz 768 A. 2d 1183 (PA 2001)
  • Eakin, Michael, Noel v Travis 857 A. 2d 1283 (PA 2004)
  • Ebersole v. Ebersole 713 A. 2d 103 (Pa. 1998)
  • In re Inquiry Relating to Rome 542 P. 2d 676 (Kansas 1975)
  • Irvine, D., The American Bench: Judges of the Nation (Sacrmento: Forster-Long Inc., 2008), at page 2129.
  • Kearney, K., "The Propriety of Poetry in Judicial Opinions", published in the Widener Law Journal, Volume 12, Number 2003.