A Misread Mystery?: A JUDGEMENT IN STONE
Posted by Barbara Leavy on Apr 11 2013, 10:49 AM

                                         A MISREAD MYSTERY, A JUDGEMENT IN STONE 

     In 1977 Ruth Rendell published A JUDGEMENT IN STONE. Ten years later (1987), H. R. F. Keating issued his list of the 100 best mysteries in English or translated into English. His list was chronological and involved no ranking among his choices.  By then Rendell as Barbara Vine had published two of her highly acclaimed novels: A DARK-ADAPTED EYE (1986) and A FATAL INVERSION (1987).  It is possible that Keating had no opportunity to read these books, since there is always a time lag between when a book is dated and is actually available or is actually read.  Then again, Keating might still have preferred A JUDGEMENT IN STONE to A DARK-ADAPTED EYE. Such choices will always be subjective, even if they are made by a vote of many readers.

     In 1990, the British Crime Writers Association (CWA) issued its list of the 100 best mysteries, ranking them.  Not surprisingly, it listed three books by Ruth Rendell (from hereon the name used will be Rendell even if the book bore the name Vine).  Of the four lists that will be described here, it was the only one that cited Rendell more than once,  By then Rendell had published THE BRIDESMAID, THE CROCODILE BIRD, ANNA'S (ASTA'S) BOOK and others that the avid readers of Rendell that I know might have chosen.  In a more modest list of his five favorite mysteries, Ian Rankin listed LIVE FLESH, but only, he says, because it was the first Rendell he had ever read and he could have cited many more.  In any event, A JUDGEMENT IN STONE was on the CWA list.

     Perhaps inspired by the CWA, in 1995 the Mystery Writers of Ameica issued its list, also ranking them. A JUDGEMENT IN STONE was its choice.  And again, by then, other major novels by Rendell had appeared. In 2007 a populist group put online its list of the 100 best mysteries, also ranking them.  The list seemed to be a combination of those by the CWA and the MWA; in any event, I am not sure about this group and the basis on which its choices were made.  But it is worth noting that once again, A JUDGEMENT IN STONE was the only Rendell book on the list.  To wind up this description of the four lists of the 100 best mysteries issued between 1987 and 2007, the one book they had in common was A JUDGEMENT IN STONE, which appeared on all four of the lists.

     Since, once more, any such choice is subjective, even when it is made by a collective vote of many readers, I was curious about this unanimity of the four lists in citing A JUDGEMENT IN STONE.  So many major Rendell books had appeared after Keating's compilation that if I listed my favorite ten in rank order, I might not list this favored book at all. I was therefore curious about the reasons for the place given to this 1977 book, after which Rendell had published so many incredibly good novels.  This essay will suggest that the choices made on all four lists might have involved a misreading of A JUDGEMENT IN STONE.  It may be audacious on my part to suggest this, but I will support my argument by a close analysis of the mystery, about which I have already written in my own book, THE FICTION OF RUTH RENDELL.  But many points I did not make in the book will be made here.

     One more date, 1997; it will be significant in looking at the content of THE JUDGEMENT IN STONE. That year, Ruth Rendell became The Baroness Rendell of Babergh CBE.  With her title came a seat in the House of Lords, which was hers for her lifetime, which is why she is a life peer.  Rendell chose to sit with the Labor  Party, unlike her friend and fellow mystery writer, P.D. James, who was similar titled and made a life peer and chose to sit with the conservatives. This is not to make any invidious distinction but to emphasize Rendell's political and social positions. Given these, one would expect that Ruth Rendell's more than sixty novels as well as collections of short stories would reflect her views.  But this is not the case. First, even when she takes a stand on social issues in her fiction, she is not rhetorical; that is, she does not write in order to persuade her reader to adopt her views. When the contents of her books involve egregioyus violations of human rights--human trafficking and slavery; forced female genital mutilation; arranged marriages between reluctant parties; laws (now repealed) again homosexuality; and violent domestic abuse--she is very sensitive to cultural issues but is not polemical.  She is very cognizant of cultural relativism and is forthright in her condemnation of certain practices, but, again, her books are not written as attacks on such practices. In one of her Wexford books, NOT IN THE FLESH, the inspector is ironically mocked for his assumptions about Muslim ways of life.

     Even noteworthy is that there are few major writers who are as scathing as Rendell of England's underclass, or what is sometimes called the undeserving poor. When portrayed as characters in her books, these are people who prefer being on the dole, what in the U.S. is called being on welfare, than working.  They often instruct their children in how to commit petty and not-so-petty crimes and take the position that such misdemeanors or felonies are payback for the social injustices done to them. When their or their offsprings' crime are therefore attributed to environmental factors, theirs is the viewpoint of a rather despicable group of people. And they have learned to work the system in such a way that as supposed victims they become the oppressed of criminal justice proceedings. (See HARM DONE.) Late in the Wexford series, the  enign and incorruptible inspector remarks at how so many protections of the accused have hampered his ability to do his job. At the same time, a committed working class is presented in some books as suffering from the increasingly bleak downturn in the English economy, the shrinkage of jobs, and the demoralization and discouragement these factors cause.  In ---------------- Wexford's daughter Sylvia and her husband Neal are both unemployed at the same time and seem unable to maintain their middle-class way of life.  The middle-class, consisting of both white and blue collar workers, are the main characters in Rendell's mysteries, both as victims and perpetrators of crime.

     Now if someone familiar with Rendell's books wanted to pick one of her novels as an exception to what has just been described, it might be A JUDGEMENT IN STONE. It is a book that supplies a good example of the complexity of Ruth Rendell's writing as well as the way in which her books often raise more questions than they answer, needing re-reading to grasp the ambiguities of the subjects she treats in her books.  And it is important to state from the outset that one of Rendell's persistent themes throughout her many books is the controversies surrounding whether it is nature or nurture (heredity or environment) that is most significant in the making of human character and personality. Moreover, Rendell's books, if followed chronologically, reveal that she is very aware of the temporal swinging of the pendulum between different theories of human development.  Any reading of A JUDGEMENT IN STONE that focuses on how the environment creates criminals has to be reconsidered.

     A JUDGEMENT IN STONE is an early standalone by Rendell. It is also not a whodunit.  The omniscient narrator, who sometimes commends directly to the reader, begins the book with this sentence, "Eunice Parchman killed the Coverdale family because she could not read or write." It will turn out that she has an accomplice, Joan Smith, and why the two of them impulsively massacre four members of a famil is related mainly in flashbooks until the ironic conclusion in which Joan is seriously and probably fatally wounded in an auto accident, and Eunice is arrested--again, because she could not read nor write and therefore could not destroy the evidence that will convict her.  The remaining Coverdales, those not in the house when the massacre takes place, quarrel among themselves about their inheritance, Rendell invoking Dickens' Bleak House as a commentary on the killing and the aftermath.

     Given the affluence of the Coverdales and the plight of Eunice Parchman whose illiteracy seems to have condemned her to a life as a servant, it is easy to assume that A JUDGEMENT IN STONE, in addition to being a good story and psychological thriller, has something to say about England's still extant class system.  I began to follow my own hunch that this might have something to do with the popularity of  the mystery, a liberal writer  applauded by a liberal reading public, who could not find other Rendell books that would elicit such approval.  I began wih readers' reviews on Amazon.com (U.S.) and Amazon.co.uk (Great Britain).  This was a fairly simple beginning but it helped strengthen the hypothesis that I had formed. (At some point, I will flesh out this posting by consulting professional reviews of the book, but for now the readers' reviews revealed something I took to be significant.)

     The readers who posted reviews in the U.S. gave A JUDGEMENT IN STONE high ratings, but the basis of their enthusiasm could apply to almost all Rendell mysteries.  The book was suspenseful; it held their interest to the very end, and was a page-turner; the characters were well-drawn and individualized; the plot was ingenious.  Only one reader added something else to this high but repetitive praise.  He noted that Ruth Rendell had a keen eye for social issues, but never said what the issues were in A JUDGEMENT IN STONE.  Most of the reviewers in the U.K. were similarly generalized in their praise of the mystery, but some of them stood out from the rest. One reviewer said that he had been a prison guard and he had met many convicted murderers who reminded him of Eunice Parchman. One can add what he did not say. As a prison guard and not a bank president ir even a prison warden, for example, he not only felt more sympathy for Eunice than for the Coverdales but he also identified with Eunice's place in society. He seems to have been the kind of prison guard to be wished for as prison employees, for his empathy, for his empathy would make a significant impact on the criminal justice system.  Also, he is a Rendell reader and in being so, the level of his reading, perception, and intelligence can be assumed to be a high one.  She rarely if ever writes mysteries that are essentially puzzles in prose and rarely attracts or keeps readers who are looking for such books. The reviewer did not say that the prisoners he guarded could not read or write, as was probably true of many, but the inference was clear.  Such prisoners became social misfits--Rendell compares illiteracy to a physical disability--and their crimes were a form of lashing out.

     Another reader in the U.K. was more specific.  In his review he wrote that A JUDGEMENT IN STONE was the best book ever written abut the effects of England's class system.  It might have been a surprise to find such a statement from a reader in the U.S. where money and power, not inherited class bestows status (unless of course your family came to this country on the Mayflower, which in some social circles counts for a great deal). As weill be seen shortly, Rendell gives a minor character, also a servant, a brief say on class in England. Still, the overall plot of the book would sustain such a reading from the U.K.: illiterate Eunice Parchman was servant to the wealthy Coverdales, and for many reasons, her resentment grew over the period of time between being hired and her part in the massacre.  A turning point in her position occurs when Mrs. Coverdale leaves her a note instructing her on errands to be run, but Eunice cannot read it.  Made frantic by her dilemma, and also angry, her malice toward the Coverdales quickly intensifies. It is therefore not unreasonable to come to the conclusion that this is indeed a book about English class distinctions and an indictment of the resultant prejudices and snobbery.  But Ruth Rendell rarely makes any reading of her books that simple.

     Assuming the class system is being critically exposed in A JUDGEMENT IN STONE and that the disparity betweeen the wealthy Coverdales and the resentful Eunice Parchman resulted in a crime that could be blamed at least in part on the victims, what would constitute the different classes. And how would several distinctions define the relationship between Eunice and the Coverdales? Rendell gives us several options to choose among, and in so doing alerts us to the need to withhold any final interpretation of her book. Does class depend on the wealth that allows some to patronize those who have but a meager income and an enduring struggle for economic survival.  The pleasant but rich--if conspicuously consuming--Coverdales are decidedly nouveaux riche, which does not confer the class status on them according to English traditions.  Ironically it is the brief appearance in the book of a minor servant that makes this point as she scoffs at the Coverdales.  They are arrivistes whereas her family had occupied that part of England for five hundred years.

     In the course of Rendell's story, before Eunice and Joan Smith become suspects, two young men are suspected of the massacre until they present themselves to the authorities and establish their alibis. The men are more than a little indignant and do see their situation, the widespread publicity that led to their coming forward, as a class issue insofar as they equate class with money.  But because suspicions against them are only temporary and apparently do no enduring harm, they do not vociferously pursue this thought.  Ironically, had the two men been of a higher class, even temporary suspicion spread among colleagues and friends might have hounded them and adversely affected their lives, or so Rendell's readers can learn from the plots of other mysteries. As a result, readers of A JUDGEMENT IN STONE are not likely to view the ex-suspects as a significant example of class distinctions in England.

     Only one person has class distinctions on her mind, finding the Coverdales fascist in their oppressive victimization of Eunice.  And that is their daughter Melissa.  She is a universigty student who has been radicalized by her eduction (in another Rendell book, a police officer scathing refers to teenage bolshies).  Although she adores her father to the point where she makes a choice in his favor that will result in her death, she accuses her father of patronizing person  s such as their servant Eunice and of thereby being a fascist. Melinda is a likable young woman whose efforts on behalf of Eunice will win approval from Rendell's readers and sustain the idea that A JUDGEMENT IN STONE depicts a class struggle. But Rendell also makes it clear that because she is young, sometimes naive, depends on book learning for her perceptions of the world, Melinda also lacks sufficient judgement to understand what her life has brought her in contact with.  She surely lacks the sound intuition of her father,  who comes increasingly to dislike Eunice, who makes him feel uncomfortable in his own house, and whom he decides must leave the Coverdale employment.  When he defends his dismissal of Eunice to Melinda, Rendell once more uses the image of fascism, but reversing the referent..  He tells his daughter that Eunice  is a stiff, humorless, and obsessive misfit, who would have made an able guard at Auschwitz.

     Another set of contrasts that undermine the popular interpretation of A JUDGEMENT IN STONE appears on the book's very first page.  Because it appears on the first page, the beginning of a story that is intended to draw the reader in, its significance  is easy to overlook. The Coverdales, the narrator tells the reader, are a very bookish family, the very worst for an illiterate servant who is ashamed of what she considers a disability, like the physical flaws or inherited illnesses that appear in other Rendell novels.  When the Coverdales turn on the "telly," they are likely to watch and discuss an operal unlike Eunice to whom they give a TV when they buy a new one, and who becomes fixated on almost any program she watches, alone in her room, cut off by her own choice from all human interaction.  Rendell's narrator makes a point whose meaning it is easy to slip by. Had the Coverdales "been a family of [equally rich] philistines, they might be alive today and Eunice free in her mysterious dark freedom of sensation and instinct and blank absence of the printed word."  

     There is other, perhaps stronger, evidence for the argument that A JUDGEMENT IN STONE is not a book that exposes the faults of England's class system.  Before getting to them, is will be worth a digression to consider why there might be an inclination to read it that way.

     Ever since the Enlightenment, the rise of the middle class who challenged the rule of aristocracy, the French and American revolutions, and the growth of nationalism, in which national characteristics were sought in the lower classes, the so-called folk, there has been a political and social shift in how to view what the French called the third estate.  With changes came an emphasis on the environment as the defining influence on human development, a swing of the pendulum away from ideas of innate depravity, such as original sin.  The importance of the environment in which one grows up was one of the ideas put forth by John Locke and his concept of the tabula rasa, the human blank slate on which a dominant society imprints itself on the individual.  It is in this context important to look at Eunice Parchman's name.  Names are often very significant in conveying meaning or irony in a Ruth Rendell book. Parchman sounds very like parchment, material on which something can be written.  Her name is particularly ironic because Eunice can neither read nor write.

     With these changes in the view of people and how they acquire their character and personalities also came an increased concern for the individual, not only in law but in everyday life and what a person could at least in theory aspire to..  In any confrontation between an individual and society, the individual came to count for more and a mislfit could be perceived as one who merely marched to a different drummer (such as the adolescent Giles, one of the massacred members of the Coverdale family).  People of good will who want to be fair will also wnt their favorite autholrs to be fair and just.  They will be quick to see,or think they see,an emphasis on an environment that can at least theoretically be changed for the better--even if there is disagreement about how this should be done. Most Rendell readers will want to find social sensitivity in her books and as a result a strong reason to sympathize with Eunice Parchman.  They will, therefore, be likely to grab onto the seemingly most obvious elements in A JUDGEMENT IN STONE. And probably Rendell does share some of the post-Enlightenment views concerning the environment: her seat with the Labor in the House of Lords testifies to her concern for the working class.  But as noted before, the pendulum between nature and nurture swings, and it is that movement that she has always been fascinated with rather than either end where the pendulum reverses it course. One of her earliest books, THE SINS OF THE FATHER, is a virtual dialogue concerning these end-points.

     For the reader who sees Eunice Parchman as formed by at best widespread neglect and Ruth Rendell as emphasizing its effect on her, Rendell will pull this ideological rug from under him/her.  It is not just that she is aware that the pendulum is moving back to an emphasis on nature rather than nurture. She keenly perceives the scientific reasons--brain scans, the ability to find genes and trace genetic inheritance, more sophisticated physical tests--and some of these make their way into her novels. But she still gives weight to human choices, such as the ones depicted in THE HOUSE OF STAIRS and THE BLOOD DOCTOR. And she will be the first to admit that accounting for such choices is not something that can be definitively done even with the most sophisticated psychological tests. One may know, for example, that the dread and deadly Huntington's Disease lies in wait in the future, but what one does  with that knowledge cannot be influenced by science or accounted for by it. Why people behave as they do is for Ruth Rendell the ultimate mystery.

     It is a mystery that is described about halfway through A JUDGEMENT IN STONE and the emerging picture of Eunice's accomplice in the massacre, Joan Smith. First, once again a name proves to be an important clue to what Rendell is describing, for the reader learns for the first time that before she married, she was Joan Skinner.  Inpsychology, this is the name of the famous theorist who insisted on the environment as the formative influence on human development, extrapolating from his studies on animals. But her environment alone cannot account for Joan.  The narrator of A JUDGEMENT IN STONE reports that the Skinners had longed for a daughter and were ecstatic when Joan was born. "She was seldom left to her own devices but talked to and played with with almost from birth."  She learned to read before she went to school and thereafter excelled in academic studies. She "led an existence which any psychologist would have seen as promising to result in a well-adjusted, worthy, and responsible member of society."  Her family was affluent so she was always comfortable, living in a fine house and neighborhood in London.  Her parents were happily married and Joan's three older brothers doted on her.

     When World War II began, Joan, like many children, was sent away from the city to protect her from the repeated bombings.  She was lucky in that her foster parents were as kind and considerate as her own.   But then, "for no apparent reason and out of the blue, she walked into the local police station" and accused her foster father of "raping and beating her."  She showed bruises and was discovered to be sexually active, and her foster father had a sound alibi for the time when the abuse was supposed to have occurred.  Her parents took her back but thought an injustice had been down.  From then on, Joan's life took a downward course, and after marrying the meek and put-upon Norman Smith, Joan spiraled down into madness.  She became a fanatical convert to a dubious religious sect, crediting its members with saving her life but at the same time relishing the ability to confess to other potential converts by recounting in detail her past sexual sins.  By the time the Coverdale massacre occurred, Joan was to all who knew her save Eunice an obviously raving lunatic.  Why?  Again, Rendell has no explanation to offer. What she has done, however, is removed the environment as the causative factor in Joan's behavior.  Perhaps Joan, like other children during the war, was traumatized by being sent away from home; but she was sent to a very nurturing home and her trauma, if it existed, does not explain what ensued.

     Joan's madness is so obvious that Ruth Rendell as author and narrator notes that had Joan been tried for the Coverdale massacre, she would easily have passed the McNaughton rule for establishing insanity and would have been sent to an institution for the mentally rather than the prison to which the convicted Eunice  would be sent.  Here again, Rendell as inserted a complex element into her novel, one that might escape a one-time reader of A JUDGEMENT IN STONE. For the question is why Eunice would not have passed the McNaughton rule, a controversial and much revised account of when a criminal can be called insane?  Eunice is hardly a model of mental health. The McNaughton rule has been objected to on many grounds, but it is still the resource used in most of the English-speaking world.  

     In the middle of the nineteenth-century, Daniel McNaughton, who was trying to assassinate then Prime Minister Robert Peel, mistakenly killed the minister's secretry.  His trial resulted in a verdict of not guilty by virtue of his being insane, a verdict that outraged the public.  The rule that was eventually formulated was named after the would-be assassin. Reduced to its main argument, the McNaughton rule says that for an insanity defense to prevail, it "must be clearly proved that, at the time of committing the act, the party accused was labouring under such a defect of reason, from disease of the mind, as not to know the nature and quality of the act he was doing, or if he did knot,  that he did not know that what he was doing was wrong."  A commentator on the rule notes that the ensuing and ongoing controversy rests on the words knew and wrong.

     Had A JUDGEMENT IN STONE recounted in detail Eunice's trial, it is possible that a plea of not guilty by virtue of insanity would have been her defense.  It was argued by some who did not find the McNaughton rule clear or adequate that the rule did not distinguish between legal and moral wrongs.  Eunice knew she would be in legal trouble if her complicity in the crime, and many crimes committed before she became a servant to the Coverdales, including the undetected smothering of her father when it looked as if she would spend a good part of her life caring for a querulous and self-made invalid.  Other crimes, including blackmail after she spies on people to discover their guilty secrets, are revealed early in Rendell's book and it becomes clear that Eunice is a sociopath, without conscience.  But then another question emerges: are sociopaths necessarily insane? The McNaughton rule might suggest the answer is yes, since a person without a conscience lacks a concept of right and wrong.  But jails are filled with sociopaths, the courts having decided that their lack of conscience was irrelevant as far as their sanity was concerned. At the same time court records are replete with the tangled webs that both prosecution and also defense get caught in when they attempt to grapple with the question of insanity.  A good example is the Andrea Yates case.  One trial convicted her of killing her children and sent her to prison.  A second trial found her not guilty by virtue of insanity and she was transferred to an institution for the criminally insane.

     As far as the Coverdale massacre and her other crimes, Eunice felt no guilt, no remorse.  She could probaby not have explained why she thought society had done her ill, which justified her drimes, and also probably would not have thought it necessary to explain. At the beginning of A JUDGEMENT IN STONE she is described as lacking empathy, one whose natural sympathies had dried up.  As is usually the case Rendell's choice of words is not accidental, and natural creates ambiguity.  Were Eunice's sympathies dried up because of an environment that, at best, had neglected her, her mother and the schools ignoring her disability, her illiteracy.  Or did her sympathies dry up because of some mysterious and pathological physical trigger that could not be identified?  Neither Ruth Rendell nor the McNaughton rule address such questions. In her fiction as well as in interviews, Rendell asserts that no self-sufficient explanation could account for those like Eunice Parchman.

     In her opening paragraph, Ruth Rendell says of Eunice Parchman that "although her companion and partner," Joan Smith, "was mad, Eunice was not.  She had the awful practical sanity of the atavistic ape disguised as twentieth-century woman."  Is Rendell being ironic here.  Is she calling into question the very McNaughton rule that she refers to in A JUDGEMENT IN STONE. Joan's insanity was so palpable as to eliminate any possibility that she was sane.  But the image of Eunice as atavistic ape in the guise of a woman is one that should be paused at.  In my book-length study of Rendell's fiction, I ask the question, not only about Rendell, but about all mystery writers, and indeed about all people, what is meant when it is said that a person has acted as an animal or is overall an animal?  Does the epithet apply to human nature, a specific human being, or a specific act? Acting like an animal is, according to some who have argued about definition, a sign of insanity that can be used in court.  Some have said that an action deemed animal-like is consistent with the McNaughton rule, since animals are not presumed to distinguish between right and wrong.

     There is perhaps one more thing to say about the atavistic ape, a human being who has reverted to pure instinct. Is Ruth Rendell alluding to what some hold to be the first piece of crime fiction written in English, Poe's Murder in the Rue Morgue, in which the perpetrator of two grisly murders is in fact an ape?  But an ape capable of injured feelings and also possessed of the capacity to evade punishment for crimes.  This is an apt description of Eunice Parchman and one that does not portray her as a victim of society, or of the English class system.

     Perhaps if A JUDGEMENT IN STONE were read with a keen understanding of how Ruth Rendell perceives the individual's relation to society, which may or may not include a class struggle, it would still have shown up as the choice of the best Rendell on four lists of the 100 best mysteries written up to the date of those lists.  It would not be my choice, especially given the spectacular books she was to write after 1977, but I have already admitted that such judgements cannot help but be subjective.  Be that as it may, I contend that whatever this novel is about, and it is about many things that continued to occupy Ruth Rendell's attention in later books, particularly the question of whether nature or nurture is dominant in human development, it should not be read essentially as an attack on the English class system.  Too much in the book is not consistent with such a reading.

Note 1: I went to other reviews of A JUDGEMENT IN STONE, and found them consistent with the Amazon reader reviews. Social and political themes were not dealt with, although in at least one noteworthy case, someone identified with Eunice because she too had trouble with reading and writing.  Not too much trouble if she read this book.  

Note 2: About the McNaughton rule (sometimes called the M'Naughton rule).  I have been to lectures on this rule by forensic psychiatrists who speak on the history of the McNaughton rule and its problems for contemporary instances of insanity pleas. In Peter Graham's account of the Anne Perry trial, expert witnesses for the defense (Juliet) made a distincion between legal and moral insanity, to no avail with judge or jury. One of these psychiatric experts continued to tour and lecture on the subject.  According to the lectures I have attended, the world "moral" in the McNaughton rule is sometimes misunderstood.  It refers not to ethics but to what we might call personality disorders or to emotional illness short of psychosis.  Of course this meaning of the word is not without connotations concerning ethics, but that is not the point I am trying to make.  Perry's expert witnesses were referring to a form of psychiatric illness despite Perry's and her accomplices awareness of the legal prohibitions concerning their plan to kill Pauline's mother, which was carefully thought out (not carefully enough) and acted upon.  Perhaps if this distinction were clearly spelled out (and it may have been; we only have Graham's account in the book), the judge and jury might have rethought their dismissing of the defense's argument. It is interesting that Graham must depend on the newspaper accounts of the trial, to which he adds his own commentary. The trial records themselves are sealed in perpetuity because the very thing that saved Juliet's and Pauline's lives, their minor status, allowed for the sealing of these records.  I hope it is not just prurience (as Graham was thought to be acting on according to one account of his encounter with a librarian) on my part, but I have for years wished I could be a fly on the wall of those court archives.


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