Monday, December 15, 2008

Law books in Lester del Rey’s Badge of Infamy

The legal predicaments of attorney Marc Dreier, Governor Rod Blagojevich, and financier Bernard Madoff remind me of the case against Dr. Daniel Feldman, the main character in Lester del Rey’s
novel Badge of Infamy (1957). Here’s a lengthy passage from the novel that details a courtroom discussion about the odd conduct of Dr. Feldman,
medical regulations, and the existence of law books on Mars:
Jake picked up two ragged and dog-eared volumes from his table. "Case of Harding vs. Southport, 2043, establishes that
a Lobby is responsible for any member on Mars. It is also responsible for informing the authorities of any criminal conduct on the part of its members or any former member known to it. Failure to report shall be considered an admission that the Lobby recognizes the member as one in good standing and accepts responsibility for that member's conduct.

"At the time Daniel Feldman arrived, Dr. Christina Ryan was
the highest appointed representative of Medical Lobby in Southport, with full authority. She identified Feldman as having been a doctor, without stipulating any change in status. She made no further report to any authority concerning Daniel Feldman's presence here. It seems obvious that Medical Lobby at Southport thereby accepted Daniel Feldman as a doctor in good standing for whose conduct the Lobby accepted full responsibility."

Wilson studied the book Jake held out, and nodded. "Seems pretty clear-cut to me," he agreed, passing the book on to Matthews. "There's still the charge that Dr. Feldman operated outside a hospital."

"No reason he shouldn't," Jake said. He handed over the other volume. "This is the charter for Medical Lobby on Mars. Medical Lobby agrees to perform all necessary surgical and medical services for the planet, though at the signing of this charter there was no hospital on Mars. Necessarily, Medical Lobby agreed to perform surgery outside of any hospital, then. But
to make it plainer, there's a later paragraph -- page 181 -- that defines each hospital zone as extending not less than three nor more than one hundred miles. Einstein is about one hundred and ten miles from the nearest hospital at Southport, so Einstein comes under the original charter provisions. Dr. Feldman was forced by charter provisions to protect the good name of his Lobby by undertaking any necessary surgery in Einstein."

He waited until Matthews had scanned that book, then took it back and began packing a big bag. Doc saw that his possessions and the microscope were already in the bag. The old man paid no attention to the arguments of Matthews before the bench.

Abruptly Wilson pounded his gavel. "This court finds that Dr. Daniel Feldman is qualified to practice all the arts and skills
of the medical profession on Mars and that he acted ethically
in the performance of his duties in the case of the deceased Harriet Lynn," he ruled. "The costs of the case shall be billed
to Medical Lobby of Southport."
You can download Badge of Infamy as an eBook from or as an audiobook from Librivox. Looking forward to reading the rest of story about Mssrs. Dreier, Blagojevich, and Madoff!

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