Book review in courier journal:
Honoring Kentucky lawyers
By Boyce F. Martin Jr.
Special to The Courier-Journal
A drunk lawyer is stuck in his shirt. A woman rents out her baby. A ghost story. Get a mug of hot chocolate, pull up a chair in front of the fire, and listen to true stories at the feet of one of the longest-serving judges in United States history. This reissue by the UK Press of Mac Swinford's book, originally published in 1963, brings to life again the fact that Kentucky's history is far more exciting than fiction.
I first encountered Judge Swinford as a newly employed assistant U.S. attorney in Bowling Green, Ky., in 1964. I quivered in my boots before the judge that May morning, his awe-inspiring presence in front of me and a packed courtroom behind. Judge Swinford began with a glowing historical rendition of freedom beginning with the Magna Carta and ending with the beauty of Kentucky from the Big Sandy to the mighty Mississippi. He inspired in us an appreciation of the Kentucky lawyers and judges he lauds in this little book.
Judge Swinford was admitted to the Kentucky Bar in 1922, three years before he received his law degree from the University of Virginia School of Law, and became a federal judge in 1937 and continued until his death in 1975. As an elder statesman of the court recounting the well-practiced stories of his long experience, Judge Mac Swinford had more in mind for his book than a compilation of chain e-mail jokes. The true end of this chocolate-box of stories is not just to give the passing pleasure of a good laugh, but to use the poetry of humor to honor the zeal and integrity of the Kentucky lawyer. With his disarming stories, Swinford raises up the prosaic practice of everyday law that "strengthen[s] the sinews of our democracy" through the talent of the Kentucky bar.
Boyce F. Martin Jr. is judge, United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. He lives in Louisville.