The Ear in the Wall HTML version
8. The Shyster Lawyer
That's a declaration of war," remarked Kennedy, as Carton resumed his seat at the desk
unconcernedly after the stormy ending of the interview with Murtha.
"I suppose it is," agreed the District Attorney, "and I can't say that I am sorry."
"Nor I," added Craig. "But it settles one thing. We are now out in what I call the 'open'
investigation. They have forced us from cover. We shall have to be prepared to take
quick action now, whatever move they may make."
Together we were speculating on the various moves that the System might make and how
we might prepare in advance for them.
Evidently, however, we were not yet through with these indirect dealings with the Boss.
The System was thorough, if nothing else, and prompt. We had about decided to continue
our conference over the dinner table in some uptown restaurant, when the officer
stationed in the hall poked his head in the door and announced another visitor for the
This time the entrance was exactly the opposite to the bluster of Murtha. The man who
sidled deferentially into the room, a moment after Carton had said he would see him, was
a middle-sized fellow, with a high, slightly bald forehead, a shifty expression in his sharp
ferret eyes, and a nervous, self-confident manner that must have been very impressive
before the ignorant. "My name is Kahn," he introduced himself. "I'm a lawyer."
Carton nodded recognition.
Although I had never seen the man before, I recollected the name which Miss Kendall
had mentioned. He was one of the best known lawyers of the System. He had begun his
career as an "ambulance chaser," had risen later to the dignity of a police court lawyer,
and now was of the type that might be called, for want of a better name, a high class
"shyster"--unscrupulous, sharp, cunning.
Shyster, I believe, has been defined as a legal knave, a lawyer who practises in an
unprofessional or tricky manner. Kahn was all that--and still more. If he had been less
successful, he would have been the black sheep of the overcrowded legal flock. Ideals he
had none. His claws reached out to grab the pittance of the poverty-stricken client as well
as the fee of the wealthy. He had risen from hospitals to police courts, coroner's court,
and criminal courts, at last attaining the dignity of offices opposite an entrance to the
criminal courts building, from which vantage point his underlings surveyed the scene of
operations like vultures hovering over bewildered cattle.
Carton knew him. Kahn was the leader among some score of men more or less well
dressed, of more or less evil appearance, who are constantly prowling from one end to the