On Burr’s War

Subject of a Grand Jury inquiry, Burr had assembled a team of legal eagles that were amongst the best & brightest of the time to conduct his defense. But make no mistake, his was the mind coordinating the effort to save his own neck. The prosecution team was formidable, being led behind the scenes by none other than Thomas Jefferson.  

On the eve of the arrival of the prosecution’s star witness, prosecutors made a motion to have Burr committed to prison for treason, even though he had not been charged with a crime to this point. They ultimately failed in their attempt to cage him, AB going as far as to voluntarily recommend that his own bail be doubled from $10,000 to $20,000 to prove his intention of sticking around to defend his position to the fullest extent of the law. His bail was doubled, four friends posted the additional funds, and he remained free.  Brilliant.

On the subject of the charges the government were trumping up, he had this to say:

“Six months ago, he [President Jefferson] proclaimed that there was a civil war. And yet, for six months they [government officials] have been hunting for it, and still can not find one spot where it existed. There was, to be sure, a most terrible was in the newspapers; but no where else.”

The government would then need to call nearly 150 witnesses over the ensuing weeks to try to find someone who could speak directly to overt acts of treason. And they would call them…

Published in: on December 19, 2009 at 2:29 pm  Leave a Comment  
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On The Law

Aaron Burr was one of the nation’s top litigators in his day. He was renowned for making simple, concise and shrewd arguments that were hard, if not impossible, to counter. Alexander Hamilton, while a master with words and an effusive orator, was himself not as effective in a courtroom as AB. In fact, many don’t know, but the two actually practiced side-by-side in several high-profile cases in their time.

Of the law and the many things he said of it, one of his more famous quotes amongst litigators and jurists:

“Law is whatever is boldly asserted and plausibly maintained.”

Burr was an economist with words. Each one was conservatively chosen for it’s very specific meaning, and all inference it could carry. He was a master of overt subtlety.

Knowing this, what do you think he was telling us about the law with this quote?

Published in: on December 9, 2009 at 8:26 pm  Leave a Comment  
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