Runaway Jury?

John Diefenbaker's legal career began inauspiciously in 1919 in Wakaw, Saskatchewan, a community of six hundred whose residents were loath to welcome an outsider. (His first client was his brother Elmer, who paid him $1 and remarked that fraternal affection was leading him to pay more than the advice was worth.)

"His fortunes seemed to improve when he was hired to defend a farmer accused of wounding his neighbour with a shotgun and the jury returned a verdict of innocent, though later it became known that more luck than skill was involved. A juror revealed that it had been decided to encourage the lawyer in his first case by finding the accused guilty of a lesser charge. When someone reported that it was Diefenbaker's birthday, the jury decided on acquittal instead."

[Diefenbaker was soon busy with his share of the community's arson cases -- which were so numerous that his office was twice burned down after suspicious fires spread out of control.]

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