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 01, 2011
“It’s better to know the judge than to know the law”

"It’s better to know the judge than to know the law” was credited by at least 1880 to New York attorney James Topham Brady (1815-1869). Brady was experienced in the corrupt Tammany Hall government in New York City.

New York lawyer Joseph Hodges Choate (1832-1917) said “It is better to know the judge than to know the law” in the 1890s, further popularizing the saying. Abraham H. Hummel (1850-1926), of the powerful New York City law firm of Howe & Hummel, is also sometimes given credit for the saying.


Google Books
The Yale Book of Quotations
Edited by Fred R. Shapiro
New Haven, CT: Yale University Press
2006
Pg. 149:
Joseph H. Choate
U.S. lawyer and diplomat, 1832-1917
“There are two kinds of lawyers,—one who knows the law, the other who knows the judge.”
Quoted in Arthur Train, Mr. Tutt Comes Home (1941). According to Richard H. Rovere, Howe & Hummel, Their True and Scandalous History, (1947), the lawyer Abraham H. Hummel also claimed to have originated this epigram.

The Vault at Pfaff’s
Brady, James Topham (1815-1869)
Lawyer, Essayist.
James Topham Brady was the son of Irish immigrants who first settled in Newark, NJ and then in New York City. Brady received a privileged education and, in 1831 while still a student, he aided his father, a lawyer, in various trials. Brady gained admittance to the New York bar in 1836. His first case dealt with the controversial topic of slavery, and “though he was unsuccessful his handling of the matter was masterly . . . He was endowed by nature with a facility of speech, which, assiduously cultivated and molded by long study, and embellished with felicitous classical quotations, became well-nigh irresistible with a jury, whilst his arguments, clear, logical, never verbose, were put with a force and sincerity which always impressed the court” (Knott).

Over the next two decades Brady came to be known as a leader of the New York bar. He was connected to almost every important case of the time, either as the defense attorney or the prosecutor (Knott). He became New York District Attorney in 1843, and he was later asked to be the United States Attorney-General, an honor that he chose not to accept.

10 February 1869, New York (NY) Times, pg. 5:
OBITUARY.
Death of James T. Brady—Sketch of His Life and Character.

Google Books
General Garfield as a Statesman and Orator:
Paragraphs from his speeches in Congress and on the stump

By James A. Garfield
New York, NY: National Republican Committee
1880
Pg. 37:
If Mr. Croker is to have his way, and in the place of Judges who have served the people well, is by his sole authority to appoint those who, he is satisfied, will show him “proper consideration” in the discharge of their judicial functions, we are in danger of relapsing into that condition with regard to our courts which the late James T. Brady — of ever honored and beloved memory — referred to, when he said that it was better to know the judge than to know the law.

22 October 1898, New York (NY) Times, “The Judicial Nominations,” pg. 2:
If Mr. Croker is to have his way, and in the place of Judges who have served the people well, is by his sole authority to appoint those who, he is satisfied, will show him “proper consideration” in the discharge of their judicial functions, we are in danger of relapsing into that condition with regard to our Courts, which the late James T. Brady, of ever-honored and beloved memory, referred to, when he said that it was better to know the Judge than to know the law.

Google Books
Thirty Years of New York Politics Up-to-Date
By Matthew P. Breen
New York, NY: The Author
1899
Pg. 775:
If Mr. Croker is to have his way, and in the place of Judges who have served the people well, is by his sole authority to appoint those who, he is satisfied, will show him “proper consideration” in the discharge of their judicial functions, we are in danger of relapsing into that condition with regard to our Courts, which the late James T. Brady, of ever-honored and beloved memory, referred to, when he said that “it was better to know the Judge than to know the Law.”

Google Books
Richard Croker
By Alfred Henry Lewis
New York, NY: Life Pub. Co.
1901
Pg. 187:
Choate, who does our present louting before Royalty at St. James’ observed of the Courts of New York and that suspicious instability wherewith they held the scales, “It is (Pg. 188 --ed.) better to know the judge than to know the law,” and was regarded for his sparkling wit as another Curran.

Google Books
Reflections of a Lawyer
By Morris Salem
New York, NY: Press of Goldman & Steinberg
1911
Pg. 18:
He does not know whether the judge will know neither of the parties, or will know his opponent, for, as Choate, the famous lawyer and orator said, “It is better to know the judge than to know the law.”

Google Books
April 1917, Journal of the American Irish Historical Society, pg. 112:
Joseph H. Choate put the mooted question cogently in his witty way when he protested in a brilliant speech against the bar relapsing into the condition described by James T. Brady, the brilliant advocate of a previous generation, when he said, “That it was better to know the judge than to know the law.”

Google Books
Tammany Hall
By M. R. Werner
Garden City, NY: Garden City Pub. Co.
1932
Pg. 125:
It was in the time of Tweed that the saying originated, “It is better to know the Judge than to know the law,” ...

Google Books
The joke’s on—lawyers
By Stan Ross
Sydney, NSW: Federation Press
1996
Pg. 51:
There are two kinds of lawyers: those who know the law and those who know the judge.

Google Books
Supreme Injustice:
How the high court hijacked election 2000

By Alan M. Dershowitz
New York, NY: Oxford University Press
2001
Pg. 116:
Roy Cohn once famously quipped, “I don’t care if my opponent knows the law, as long as I know the judge.”

Google Books
Mumbo Jumbo
By John H. Schumacher
Washington, DC: Barrelhead Books, Barclay Ross Publishing, Inc.
2001
Pg. 54:
A good lawyer knows the law.
Legal Maxim
A great lawyer knows the judge.
Better Legal Maxim

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityGovernment/Law/Politics/Military • (2) Comments • Saturday, October 01, 2011 • Permalink


That is a great quote-now how can we turn that into a lawyer joke

Posted by Lemon  on  11/30  at  07:26 PM

really such a great article. thanks for sharing such a great article…

Posted by Immigration Solicitors London  on  07/08  at  11:27 AM

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