For what noun are the adjectives “true” and “false” misleading? Facts. Facts are. That is why “true” is redundant to describe facts. When lawyers and judges use the phrase “true facts,” it drives me nuts. Facts are. Sorry to be repetitive. And “false” facts are not facts. So why call them facts? And I refuse to discuss “alternate” facts. Such facts may exist in an alternate universe but not here.
Of course we can get facts wrong. But so-called wrong facts are not facts. Whether promulgated by intention or negligence, they are imaginary… trumped up. Unlike facts that are, they aren’t. Example ‑ I attended a concert at Disney Hall last week. One of the selections was Igor Stravinsky’s “Requiem Canticles.” In the slick performances magazine (small “p” and in italics), given to concert goers, is a “composer profile” of Igor Stravinsky: “Born: 1875, Ciboure, France. Died: 1937, Paris, France.”
False. Those so-called facts are not the facts. I can prove it. I wasn’t around when Stravinsky was born, but all authoritative texts say he was born in Russia in June of 1882. Paris is where he composed many of his compositions and, if you believe what is represented in the movie Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky, Paris is where he is reputed to have had an adulterous love affair with the celebrated fashion designer Coco Chanel. Note: Unlike the descriptions to publicize the movie, I avoided the adjective “passionate” to describe the love affair. To so characterize a love affair that may never have happened would be contrary to the spirit and theme of this column and would, as they say, “be playing fast and loose” with the facts. And even if the illicit love affair happened, how do we know this particular one was passionate? On second thought, aren’t all illicit love affairs passionate? Why else would anyone have one?
But back to verifiable facts about Stravinsky. I know for sure he did not die in 1937. I saw him and Robert Craft conduct a concert of Stravinsky’s music at UCLA’s Royce Hall in 1957, a celebration of Stravinsky’s 75th birthday. And I have a witness. Prominent lawyer Andrea Ordin was at the concert, sitting next to me. The astute reader will have concluded that she had not yet gone to law school. Stravinsky died in New York in 1971. By the way, it was Maurice Ravel who was born in 1875 in Ciboure, France, and died in 1937 in Paris.
So should we pillory the author of the article who got his or her facts wrong? Sure. Why not? It happens to me all the time. But I am unable to do so here because the author of Stravinsky’s profile is not named. Should we then lay blame on editors of the magazine published by the Southern California Media Group for a gaffe they didn’t catch? Maybe so. Editors must ensure accurate reporting in their publications. But are editors responsible for inaccuracies in opinion pieces? That is another story.
This takes me to an article that appeared in the Daily Journal a couple of weeks ago titled, in bold print, “A Waste of Limited Judicial Resources” by Jonathan Goldstein (May 11, 2017). The article appears under the rubric “PERSPECTIVE.” So at least we know the article is Goldstein’s perspective. One such perspective is enough.
Above the photograph of his stern visage is a brief curriculum vitae in italics. It tells us that besides being a judge pro tem in various counties throughout California, he is “the only attorney appointed by the State Bar to serve as a special master in every county in California.” And he has “clerked for a former State Supreme Court Presiding Justice.” Must have been in some other state. We don’t have a presiding justice in our Supreme Court. We do have a Chief Justice.
In his article, Mr. Goldstein severely criticizes a panel of justices in the 2nd District for publishing an opinion that he concedes was correctly decided. He chides the justices for deciding “to brief and hear argument” in the case and suggests the court should have simply denied the appeal.
Mr. Goldstein you are a “special master.” You should have mastered your subject matter. In California, the right to appeal a criminal conviction is statutory. (Pen. Code, §§ 1235, 1237; Douglas v. California (1963) 372 U.S. 353, 356; People v. Vargas (1993) 13 Cal.App.4th 1653, 1659.) The initial appeal of a felony conviction to the California Court of Appeal is a matter of right, with further review being discretionary. (Douglas, at p. 356.) It is not the judiciary that is “the butt of jokes.”
So do we blame the editors of the Daily Journal for publishing Mr. Goldstein’s novel perspective? Of course not. Above Mr. Goldstein’s photograph appears this disclaimer: “The opinions in this article are strictly his own.” Let’s hope so.
Oh, I almost forgot. Disclosure. I have been a columnist for the Daily Journal for 29 years, and my views are strictly my own.