Poetry of the Bench and Bar: The Taxman Cometh

National Poetry Month at the Harris County Law Library, Poetry of the Bench and Bar: The Taxman Cometh

It’s April 15th, and today, The Taxman cometh. We at the Harris County Law Library can think of no better way to welcome this annual visitor than to share a poem. The IRS doesn’t typically conjure the spirit of creativity, but on this day, while we celebrate National Poetry Month, a bit of written verse may be just what we all need. 

Currently on display in the Library lobby is an exhibit of legal opinions written in verse. Inspired by various sources including Edgar Allan Poe, Dr. Seuss, and Leann Rimes, these opinions reflect the wit and wisdom of their authors as well as the occasional levity of the court. One such opinion, written by Fifth Circuit Judge Irving Goldberg in the case United States v. Batson, even makes reference to government subsidies (i.e., tax breaks), in particular, the cotton set-aside program. A group of program participants in Gaines, Texas took full advantage of these subsidies, and managed to evade program payment limitations for a number of years. In his ruling, Judge Goldberg, known for his frequent use of biblical, literary, and musical references began his opinion with a poem:

Some farmers from Gaines had a plan.
It amounted to quite a big scam.
But the payments for cotton
began to smell rotten.
Twas a mugging of poor Uncle Sam.
The ASCS and its crew
uncovered this fraudulent stew.
After quite a few hearings,
the end is now nearing--
It awaits our judicial review.


This is just one of the clever opinions penned from the bench. For more examples of parody and verse in legal decisions, visit the Gallagher Law Library Judicial Humor page. And be sure to check in with Ex Libris Juris next Friday when we'll feature another law-related poem in celebration of National Poetry Month.