Who said it and why?

“The law isn’t justice. It’s a very imperfect mechanism. If you press exactly the right buttons and are also lucky, justice may show up in the answer. A mechanism is all the law was ever intended to be.”

Who said it and why? Be sure to give the context. 

RGK

PS Thanks again to the West coast ugly truck owner and holder of an Admiralty in the Nebraska Navy.

3 responses

  1. Google says:The law isn’t justice. It’s a very imperfect mechanism. If you press exactly the right buttons and are also lucky, justice may show up in the answer. A mechanism is all the law was ever intended to be.

    Raymond Chandler (1888–1959). Sewell Endicott, in The Long Goodbye, ch. 8 (1953). Dean

  2. The Long Goodbye is a 1953 novel by Raymond Chandler, centered on his famous detective Philip Marlowe. In Chapter three (entitled Simple Justice) of the Last Goodby a close approximation of the words referred to in the post are uttered by a lawyer, Sewell Endicott, hired by someone else, to represent Marlowe. With a few omissions for the sake of brevity, here is what Chandler wrote:

    I spent the next three days in jail. It wasn’t so bad.

    It was quiet and it was clean. No one bothered me.

    On the third day, a guard unlocked my door in the middle of the morning.’Your lawyer is here. And don’t throw that cigarette on the floor.’

    He took me to the conference room. A tall man with dark hair was standing there looking out of the window. He turned and waited for the door to close. He took out a fancy cigarette case and looked me over.

    ‘Sit down, Marlowe. Cigarette? My name is Endicott. Sewell Endicott. I’ve been told to help you. It won’t cost you anything. . . .

    . . . Don’t you want my help?

    No, I told him, I didn’t. When a clever lawyer gets you out of jail before the police are ready to let you go, people talk. They say unkind things. . . .

    ‘I see your point,’ Endicott said, ‘but I have to tell you, I’m not in contact with Lennox. If I knew where he was, I’d have to tell the police. I’m a lawyer, and that’s the law.

    ‘You believe in the law?’

    The question annoyed him. ‘The law,’ he said, ‘is not justice. It’s just a half- broken machine. If you push the right buttons and you’re lucky at the same time,you might get some justice. Now, do you want my help or not?’

    I still didn’t. . . . Endicott looked at me coldly.

    ‘You’re strange, Marlowe. You know so little. All that money and power can also buy a lot of silence.’

    He opened the door and went out. The guard took me back and locked me in again.

    All the best.

    RGK

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