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A Texas Litigator’s Guide to Getting or Being Screwed and What to Do About It

Legally & Scientifically Speaking, Of Course.

This is my month of unorthodox topics as I approach my 67th year on the planet. I have been practicing law for over 35 years and had the privilege of working with and against some of the best law firms in Texas and the United States.  Thankfully, after all of this time, I am in a better place to really say it like it is.

For those readers who are picking this up on my science website,, please read on.  There will be plenty of science-related information to whet your appetite.

When I raise the subject of “getting or being screwed”, let’s start with our family.  To be clear, I am not just talking about my family, or yours, but our entire human family which for want of a better word is referred to as homo sapiens.  We branched off from a common ape ancestor about 7 million years ago and became distinctly human -albeit on the hairy side, about 300,000 thousand years ago in our homeland of Africa.  About 70-100 thousand years ago, our species decided to go on a family vacation out of Africa and populate the globe.

It didn’t go well with anyone or anything that came in contact with homo sapiens.  It is scientific fact that wherever homo sapiens ventured, the indigenous wildlife and fellow hominids were slaughtered to extinction and devoured.  As homo sapiens crossed over into Europe and Asia and even the Arctic regions, approximately 95% of all species were slaughtered for human consumption which included mastodons, giant sloths and sheep, and the incredibly unique marsupials which populated Australia.  We know of the existence of these extinct animals as their charred bones are found at every primitive human settlement in the world.

The ancient homo sapiens had yet to discover atomic power but championed the most effective way to kill as many large mammals as possible with minimal effort.  The preferred route was to scare the animals like mastodons and drive vast numbers into a confined area where they would be trapped and then slaughtered.

Our family was also very good at knocking off competitive species which existed for a short period along with homo sapiens.  The Neanderthals, for example, were anatomically different than homo sapiens given the large ridge over the head and larger brain.  Unfortunately, Neanderthals were not as physically adept as our human family and would never win a football game anywhere.  Although the scientific community is somewhat divided, our fine human family murdered their Neanderthal cousins and actually ate a number of them.  Genetic research has confirmed that a few humans and Neanderthals managed to escape the murderous conduct and engage in amorous activity.  This is confirmed by a minute presence of Neanderthal genes in the makeup of modern-day Europeans and Asians.

You know what they say about young lovers.

So, what does all of this ancient history have to do with litigation and “getting or being screwed”.  Well… everything.  Contrary to what all of us were told in Sunday or Hebrew School, homo sapiens – our family – are prone to very bad acts which are referenced in the Ten Commandments.  A sizeable percentage enjoy breaking most or all of these with gusto and have no sense of remorse.  If you get backed up about this, reread the above paragraphs on the destruction of indigenous life and fellow hominids.

The term “getting or being screwed” will not be found in Blacks Law Dictionary but is the apt term for the harm homo sapiens inflict on each other.  The ubiquitous “bell curve” neatly defines just about all the screwing humans can do to others.  On the far left are the few saints among us who have never entertained a bad thought or acted on it.  Very few of us can occupy this elevated station, but they do exist.  My mother fit in the category perfectly. That’s about it.

To the left of the center of the bell curve are bad acts ranging from mischief to jealousy all the way to adultery and what I would call crimes of the heart.  People destroy the ambitions of others including defenseless children, cripple the creative potential of others, and treat others with disdain given racial and other prejudices.  All of that is bad.

Things get really nasty as you move to the right of the center.  Then we are talking about causing physical injury to others, rape, murder, and other ghastly crimes.

As it turns out, law school equips all attorneys-in-training with the skill set to handle issues on both the left and right sides of the bell curve.  The left is relegated to violations of contracts, confidences, employment, and other promises.  You can also ratchet this up to families fighting over the estate leftovers of the departed and once loving couples fighting to the death over “Charley – the dog”.  We call all of the above “Civil” legal matters. Doesn’t sound very civil to me.  What do you think?

Translated to real terms these are lawsuits from a few bucks to billions over disputed contracts, patents, divorce, employment violations, theft of intellectual property, and hundreds of other items.

The lawyers to the right of center deal with the really horrific acts which are relegated to the practice of “Criminal Law”.  Lawyers have two items on the menu – work for the District Attorney or Defense Counsel.  These are nasty cases involving violent acts and reprehensible behavior.  For those excellent lawyers who ultimately leave the employ of the District Attorney and venture to the other side, there are tons of clients and dollars to be made.

The point I am attempting to drive home is that lawyers will always be necessary as the vast percentage of homo sapiens have been or will be involved in some screwing of someone else and their property.

That is not a surprise because humans have the propensity to screw others in vast numbers which explains the presence of constant turmoil, sadness, and population growth.  That’s what screwing is all about.

And that’s why lawyers are necessary and important.  Without laws, lawyers, and judges, homo sapiens would turn completely on themselves in the same way they drove every other species to extinction.  Lawyers provide a respite of sorts from extinction.

Of course, given the overwhelming selfishness of homo sapiens and sophistication of our weaponry combined with the destruction of the environment, I seriously doubt that lawyers will forestall what may be inevitable anyway.  And there is always the growing problem of lawyers turning on each other and driving the entire profession to extinction given an overindulgence of arrogance, greed, and selfish behavior.

The only moral of this story is to potentially view lawyers differently. We do serve an important function and purpose in society.  And given the genetic endowment of our species over 300,000 years, there will be plenty of work for us to do.

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