This is the tale of Judge Nameless And The Incomprehensible Question.
I've mentioned Judge Nameless before.
It could never be said of Judge Nameless that he withheld, out of a foolish sense of sentimentality or Victorian propriety, his frank views regarding the adequacy of the lawyers appearing before him.
There's an important rule of advocacy that young lawyers often find difficult: shut up when you're winning.
What Judge Nameless would say to lawyers -- bark, if you want to be unkind -- is COUNSEL, ARE YOU FAMILIAR WITH SATCHEL PAIGE? He would say this right in the middle of your argument.
He once said "don't look back, something might be gaining on you."
This meaning was not always entirely clear, particularly to young lawyers.
They tended to react with wide eyes, stammers, open mouths, and visible contemplation of alternate careers that had slipped away.
Occasionally lawyers would try to puzzle it out. Is this about -- greatness? Perseverance? Oh God is it a RACE THING?
In short: the lawyers who got it sat down, the lawyers who didn't generally fell to miserable pieces.