A Good Legal Opinion, Like Wine, Only Improves With Age

by Jamison Koehler on June 6, 2011

There was a judge in Philadelphia, recently deceased, who complained every time a defense attorney cited an old case. Pennsylvania’s case law is pretty favorable when it comes to criminal defense, and there were a host of tried-and-true cases, many of them now 30 or 40 years old, that we would trot out with some regularity.

Even today I get pleasure from just thinking of the case names:  White, Labron, and Timko for car stops, Banks and Queen for drugs, Matthews for stolen property, Alexander for aggravated assault, Rainey for resisting arrest, and so on.  They were like old friends that passed away upon my leaving Philadelphia.  And there don’t seem to be many equivalents in Virginia or even D.C.

I was always at a loss whenever I cited one of these cases only to find myself facing the judge’s inscrutable stare.  “Counsel,” he would say.  “Don’t you have anything more recent you could cite?”

How do you respond to something like that?  Anything more recent than, say, still good law?  Because a good case, like wine, only improves with age.

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