Home » Blog » The War of the Courtroom

On this Memorial Day in 2012, I think it would be good to look at some of the quotes of Winston Churchill about war, especially the war (World War II) which he guided the British through to ultimate victory.  Also, in as sense, a lawsuit and the courtroom can be like a  battle or a war so that some of these quotes are applicable to law practice. (of course, I mean no disrespect by this far lesser comparison and  don’t mean to diminish the great sacrifice that our soldiers endured in the real wars, the remembrance of which is what this day is all about).

Churchill had this to say about war and its struggles:

“Never, never, never believe any war will be smooth and easy, or that anyone who embarks on the strange voyage can measure the tides and hurricanes he will encounter. The statesman who yields to war fever must realize that once the signal is given, he is no longer the master of policy but the slave of unforeseeable and uncontrollable events.”

-How true this is when we counsel our clients to file a suit.  Especially, in the actual trial stage because no one can predict the turn of events in a trial.  A jury is unpredictable.  A witness doesn’t answer as we thought. The judge makes an adverse ruling keeping out key evidence or limits our theory of the case.  Everyone who has been in a trial knows that these type things frequently happen.

“Never give in–never, never, never, never, in nothing great or small, large or petty, never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.”

-This is true when real honor and convictions are at stake but many times these are not what is at stake, it is our pride and stubbornness.  It is then that we may need to consider whether the “good sense” that Churchill gives as an exception should not be used.

“However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results.”

-As we go along in the case, we may need to make adjustments as we see some theory or strategy not working.

“To build may have to be the slow and laborious task of years. To destroy can be the thoughtless act of a single day.”

-After all the hard work of developing our case and strategy, a few moments of anger, pride, or thoughtlessness may sink our case.

“You ask, What is our policy? I will say; “It is to wage war, by sea, land and air, with all our might and with all the strength that God can give us: to wage war against a monstrous tyranny, never surpassed in the dark lamentable catalogue of human crime. That is our policy.” You ask, What is our aim? I can answer with one word: Victory – victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror, victory however long and hard the road may be; for without victory there is no survival.” “We shall not flag or fail. We shall go on to the end, we shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender.”

-We also sometimes have to come to the conclusion, that the only way in which the wrong for which we are fighting to correct in our suit may take this type of determination.  That no settlement is possible.  There are these types of suits and claims that do rarely come along in our practice and we need to recognize them.

I cannot forecast to you the action of Russia. It is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma: but perhaps there is a key. That key is Russian national interest.

-This quote is helpful when trying to resolve a claim to realize that the key to finding a settlement is almost always one that features the self interest of the other side.

Although not from Churchill, there is another quote which is helpful in evaluating our cases and deciding about settlement.  This quote is from the Bible in Luke 14:31-32:

“…what king, when he sets out to meet another king in battle, will not first sit down and consider whether he is strong enough with ten thousand men to encounter the one coming against him with twenty thousand?  Or else, while the other is still far away, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace.”

-In a sense, this quote from the Bible is our process that we go through in settlement talks or mediation to determine whether to settle or not.

All of the above is wisdom of the ages for us to consider and maybe guide our path in our struggle.