Sunday Gazette-Mail from Charleston, West Virginia on August 24, 1975 · Page 106
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Sunday Gazette-Mail from Charleston, West Virginia · Page 106

Charleston, West Virginia
Issue Date:
Sunday, August 24, 1975
Page 106
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The Lodestone of Fortune SPEAKING OF BOOKS MoreF. Lee Bailey By Doane R. Hoag MARQUETTE COUNTY, MICHIGAN, August 24,1824 - One of the strangest stories of early American history had its beginnings when three young men --.O'Driscoll, Grant, and Withers -- slung their rifles and bedrolls over their shoul- der0nd set out on a hunting trip in the gloomy wilderness of northern Michigan. Very few people ventured into the area, for it was an unmarked forest without trails, roads, or human habitation. Even the Indians were afraid to go into parts of it, for they said it was there that spirits of the night fashioned the thunder and lightening. Men, they warned, should not go into it. And sometimes it seemed that they were right. For strange things did happen in that remote and lonely jungle. Trappers who ventured into it were sometimes never seen .again. BuHhe three men who started out this morning scoffed at the superstitions and set out cheerfully and confidently. Intending to be gone only three or four days, they smiled at their friends, waved goodby, climbed over the mossy logs and disappeared. Three weeks later they returned. Their clothes were in tatters. Their guns and blankets were lost! They were so weak from hunger 'they could hardly stand. At first they could not even speak, could only babble incoherently about the things that had happened to them in that dreary forest. It was days be- foreliney could tell their story. He had lost it the day before. Yet here, at the foot of the same ghostly white tree they had passed twenty-four hours earlier, it lay. While following an exact compass course, he and his two friends had moved in a complete circle and come back to the precise spot they had been before! Bewildered and frightened, knowing the compass they had relied on was useless, the three young hunters began crashing aimlessly through the forest, searching blindly for a way out. Actually, it took them three weeks to find their way back home, and they were almost dead of hunger and exhaustion when they got there. Never again did they venture into the forest, and seldom did anyone else, either. For years, few settlers made any attempt to go into the wilderness to live, and it was left almost entirely to itself, just as it had been by the Indians. Twenty years passed. Then, in 1844, a surveyor named William A. Burt was sent out by the government to map the area, which was now included in the State of Michigan. Following a compass course just as O'Driscoll, Grant, and Withers had so long before, ;Biirt began blazing the line for what was to become the east boundary of ^Township 47 North of :Marquette County. A few miles inside the forest, Burt looked incredulously at his compass. No wonder men had been getting lost up here! The needle had suddenly gone crazy. It had swung almost a quarter of the way around the dial -- 87 degrees! ; "FOR THE DEFENSE. By F. Lee Bailey with Johi Greeiyi, AtheMm. $11.15. In the epilogue to this, his second book of criminal cases, F. Lee Bailey, among the handful of trial lawyers known to laymen and one whose cases have a habit of turning up in newspaper headlines, makes a harsh judgement on the state of justice in this country. "Americans generally," Bailey writes, "Like to boast that ours is the finest system of justice in the world, and most of us probably .believe it. Those with actual experience in the system know better, guilty or innocent, convicted or acquitted, they have learned at first hand the cold fear of being a defendant in an American court." His book, case histories of some of the trials in which he served as defense counsel and once as defendant, supplies supporting evidence for his melancholy conclusion. Stepping into the forest, they related, they had immediately been swallowed up. It was so deep and dense that the sunlight hardly reached the ground. Every tree looked alike, and they had to travel entirely by compass to keep from getting lost. On the third day, toward evening, O'Driscoll, who was leading, suddenly stopped short, staring straight ahead. "jWhat is it?" Grant asked him. "That tree!" O'Driscoll replied. He went up to it slowly, the others following uneasily. The tree had been struck by lightning sometime in the past and stripped of its bark and needles, leaving it a ghostly white skeleton in the dark forest. At the foot of it O'Driscoll stopped. Half hidden in the ferns and bracken lay a small leather- bound Bible. He bent down and picked it up. On the cover, in gold letters, was his own name. John C. O'Driscoll; A hard-headed engineer, Burt knew at once what it meant: No evil spirits, ;ho ghostly: manifestations were responsible for; the corn- pass' behavior. Iron! Somewhere in this unmarked wilderness there was a deposit of iron ore the likes of which no man had ever seen before! Only such a deposit as that could account for the erratic her havior of the compass needle. He was right And within a few weeks after his report was published, the wilderness was teeming with prospectors in one of the country's greatest mining stampedes: For almost a century, the needle of the compass that explorers and hunters had carried in: their hands, had been trying to lead them to a fortune - but until-William Burt came alone, all had been too blind to see. (Copyright Doane Homg 1975) What Hamlet said almost four centuries ago about the law's delay appears to be as true as ever. His book demonstrates that trials in America are slow, tortuous, very costly; that contention in the courtroom may take tangential turns that scarcely touch on the main issue, that the innocent stand in as much jeopardy as the guilty and that the variables and unknown factors in every case are beyond what even the brightest lawyer can anticipate. And, Bailey argues, not every lawyer who accepts a case is bright or always competent in the area or field in which the case falls. Bailey's cases include those of Capt. Ernest L. Medina on trial for his actions (or lack of them) at My Lai; of Glenn W. Turner, the head of a complicated cosmetics enterprise that some say was interested in selling franchises not the product; of Billy Phillips, a New York City policeman accused of murder- Coast of lost ships "SHIPWRECK." Text by John Fowles, Photography by the Gibson of Scilly. Unptglnated, Little, Brown. |7.W. '; If you fancy the romance of being shipwrecked, head for the southwest tip of England, where the Isles r Stilly and the coast of Cornwall lie in wait for y o u . / "Proportionate to their size, no islands in the world have a more lethal record than .the Scillies," writes the novelist John Fowles in the introduction to "Shipwreck," a haunting photographic record of . maritime disaster, "ai^ few mainland coasts can, in tfiis^ dark rivalry .surpass those of. West Corn' ' ' · .1 i a t v · Moreover, to add to the danger of the shoals and rocks, there was the ancient occupation of^ "wreck- ing"--.'bt "wreck-inducing" and "wreck-plungering' '-practiced by a people who had long suffered what Fowles names "the atrocious economic disregard (of) the rest of England." V " ; : Legend attests, to,traditions of dousing true beacons and mounting "horn; beacons" to the heads of wandering cliff to]) cows. ^ Better-authenticated stories are told of murdering shipboard animals because of a too literal read, ing of in ancient Plantaganetsta tue whose gistin a 17th-century formulation rah "neither bird, nor beast having escaped, for if anything had escaped .alive, 'tis not be adjudged Wreck' · arid could not then be plundered i; v . Over: the last century, four generations of one Sciilon^ the Gibsons, have taken a more benign form of plunder--magnificent photographs of the vast array of ships that have been wrecked in these treacherous waters, L The sampling in this photographic album ranges in time from 1872 (the wreck of the paddle steamer Earl of Arran) to 1967 (the supertanker forrey Canyon), and in.sub.- ject matter from lovely old-fashioned three-masters to squat functional trawlers. __ .Why are these photos so bewitch'- ing? Fowles, in his introduction provides arid answers. The appeal, of calamnity, in the face of which' we can say: "There but for the grace : of God; . . ." The profound emotional symbolism of the sea and the ships that sail it. Sheer esthetics: The "lovely assemblage of rope construction and canvas cutout, pre-echoing Matisse arid Naum GabO; , . ." And most of all the sense of ambiguity ;and implausibility conveyed by these majestic hulks with their rigging all undone like smashed harps. For these photographs record.the 'interval between crash and breakup, which rarely lasted more than a ing a pimp arid a prostitute and wounding a customer, and of two Midwest executives who were accused in separate cases of plotting a bombing and the killing of a brother, All in all,, not a very savory list. Bailey, who is nothing if not a passionate man, appears to be most pleased at securing the acquittal of Medina. Although he says of the trial that it "was the finest example I have ever encountered of the American criminal .justice system working the way it was intended to work" He also contends that at many points the Army was more concerned with fixing charges against the captain than a t . getting at the truth, that the trial had to be held for reasons not always to do with justice. Phillips, the New York City policeman who testified about the corruption of his fellow of ficers before the Knapp Commission, is about as far from Medina in character, circumstances, and. the nature of the crime charged against him as can be imagined. Yet Bailey suggests that here too Phillips was indicted for murder as a way of getting back at him for his testimony before the commission. Unlike Medina, Phillips was found guilty: And finally, · Bailey feels that his own indictment in a fraud case grew out of the hostility of the postal authorities, whom he had criticized in an earlier case .-·-.- Along;With this tendency to find conspiratorial motivies on the other side, Bailey becomes a partisan of theman he is defending. Medina had been an "outstanding young officer" and "is a very good man." Phillips, though no "choir boy," has "guts." Turner is a man he could trust. Although these characterizations may be deserved; they tend to make a personal narrative oiit of a study in law. Perhaps Bailey cannot work as well as he does as a defense lawyer unless he feels. few ninths and was usuaUy more as, he does about his clients. But like a" week? AsFbwles ; pnt$ it;'£. somehow these'personalities blur "What we are seeing; herei is the;th£legal-edges of the cases. They Condemned,cell, the haunted calm emerge less as legal battles than as of the days1 betweeni sentence and " ~ execution.' 'Yet. they seem frozen; for eternity--executions stayed A remarkable visual record. By Christopher Lehmaiut-Haapt. Mr. Lehman-Hflupt is a itaff writer for the New York times. Spy tools PLUMBER'S KITCHEN," the secret story of American spy weapons, by Donald B. McLean, Normount Technical Publications, Wickenburg, Ariz. Frankly, 1 can't imagine anyone curling up on a cold winter's night with this book: As you can see from the title, it's a technical publication pure arid simple. . Basically, it's an account of the "envisioning, creating and procuring Jspecial' ordnance and devices for men and missions behind enemy lines." So if you want to know more about the silencer and other handy little implements of spying; read on. - Skip Johnion confrontations of Prince Valiant with the forces of darkness. · Moreover, in his retellings, Bailey pAills out the more dramatic episodes of his cases and ticks off his .victories over the prosecution or less than truthful witnesses, his confrontations with judges or law' yers on (he other side. And he, tells us a good deal about the members of his own team. But somehow the trials as legal entities lose their -shape. Only in one case, that of an executive accused or trying i t o ; bomb a rival's truck,:is ithprn how the law works it is being manipulated by an unscrupu- · lous prisoner to free himself of potentially grave charges including murder. The legal bind the govern^ ment manages to get itself-iti and the process by which it does so is, to a layman at least, the most fascinating chapter in the book: As a picture of a ciminal lawyer in action, "For the defense" gives us a sometimes tingling picture of the shoals'and hazards as well as the satisfactions of the profession. But as a study of the operation of the law, in spite of good reading, it is only moderately successful . Thomas Lask Mr. Laik h a staff writer for the New York Times. '26m CHARLESTON. W. VA. August 24, ftift,

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