Description of a perfect, evil defendant — and a warning to plaintiffs

A man’s features, the bone structure and the tissue which covers it, are the product of a biological process; but his face he creates for himself. It is a statement of his habitual emotional attitude; the attitude which his desires need for their fulfilment [sic] and which his fears demand for their protection from prying eyes. He wears it like a devil mask; a device to evoke in others the emotions complementary to his own. If he is afraid, then he must be feared; if he desires, then he must be desired. It is a screen to hide his mind’s nakedness. Only a few men, painters, have been able to see the mind through the face. Other men in their judgements [sic] reach out for the evidence of word and deed that will explain the mask before their eyes. Yet, though they understand instinctively that the mask cannot be the man behind it, they are generally shocked by a demonstration of the fact. The duplicity of others must always be shocking when one is unconscious of one’s own.

− From A Coffin for Dimitrios, by Eric Ambler

Plaintiffs should take a look at that last sentence and use it as a warning: before you sue a duplicitous defendant, you must be conscious of yourself, of your weaknesses, your secrets and flaws.

Even though you probably won’t be able to smooth away all your wrinkles before your testify, you need to become comfortable with them so that they can’t be used to startle or discomfort you.

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