A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from October 30, 2011
“Every man is innocent until proven broke”

"Every man/person is innocent until proven broke” is a joke in the legal profession, suggesting that justice is over for the person who can’t afford a good lawyer. The legal joke has been cited in print since at least 1954.

Johnny Hart’s newspaper comic strip, “The Wizard of Id,” was compiled in a book titled Every Man Is Innocent Until Proven Broke (1977).


18 November 1954, Van Wert (OH) Times-Bulletin, “Try and Stop Me” by Bennett Cerf, pg. 15, col. 2:
Recent description of a lawyer by a disgruntled competitor: “He’s the kind of member of the bar who believes every client is innocent until he’s proven broke.”

28 July 1955, Statesville (NC) Record & Landmark, “On The High Cost Of Justice,” pg. 4, col. 2:
He has never been allowed to enjoy the limited virtues of the flippant rule that all clients are innocent until proven broke. Loyalty suspects are guilty. Period.

Google News Archive
9 May 1974, The Age (Melbourne, Australia), “Good spanking and a dose of castor oil” by Peter Smark, pg. 2, col. 7:
Next I suppose we will have the Dean and Mitchell law firm ("Every man innocent until proven broke") setting up in Collins Street.

Google Books
8 December 1976, Calgary (Alberta) Herald, “Drinking driver cases ‘chaos’”, pg. 29, col. 1:
Mr. Evans told the Knights of the Round Table that “persons charged with criminal offences are innocent until proven broke.”

OCLC WorldCat Record
Every man is innocent until proven broke
Author: Johnny Hart; Brant Parker
Publisher: London : Coronet, 1977.
Edition/Format:  Book : English

Google Books
A Lawyer’s Life
By Johnnie L. Cochran with David Fisher
New York, NY: Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin’s
2003, ©2002
Pg. 56:
The phrase I like to use is that a person is innocent until proven broke. And when you’re broke, that’s it. You’re done. It’s not so much black and white, it’s rich and poor.

Google Books
The Innocent Man:
Murder and injustice in a small town

By John Grisham
New York, NY: Bantam Dell
2007
Pg. 147:
He loved to make money and had little patience with clients who couldn’t pay. His motto was “Innocent until proven broke.”

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityGovernment/Law/Politics/Military • (0) Comments • Sunday, October 30, 2011 • Permalink