When it finally arrives, justice delayed is still satisfying

For every cliché, there’s a counter-cliché just as true, and that can be befuddling. For example, even though you know that you should always “look before you leap,” the instant it takes to do so could be the exact time needed to prove that “he who hesitates is lost.” On the other hand, if you don’t look first – well, you see the problem. British Prime Minister William Gladstone’s maxim, “Justice delayed is justice denied,” became a cliché in record time – practically as he uttered it – and immediately found itself at loggerheads with “better late than never.” You’d think that only a madman could entertain two completely contradictory thoughts at one time, but apparently it’s a sign of genius. “The test of a first-rate intelligence,” F. Scott Fitzgerald once observed, “is the ability to hold two opposing ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.” We’re inclined to agree with him, especially now as we’re examining this intriguing dichotomy. At this very moment, in a clash of conflicting clichés, we’re affirming that justice delayed is justice denied AND that late is better than never. After years of filing fraudulent asbestos lawsuits against CSX Transportation and delaying the progress of the company’s countersuit against him for that fraud, Pittsburgh attorney Robert Peirce has reached the end of the line. As 2012 came to a close, a jury concluded that Peirce and a colleague conspired with Bridgeport radiologist Ray Harron to fabricate asbestos claims against CSX. The jury awarded CSX more than $429,000, an amount subject to tripling because of the RICO Act. It’s been 13 years since Peirce filed his first fraudulent suit against CSX, more than seven years since CSX countersued Peirce. That’s a long time to wait for justice, time that could have been devoted to better pursuits, time squandered. Still, the victory is sweet.

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