A skunk is a skunk

While doing some research on Wegner’s Ironic Process Theory, I came across this case–Volkmer v. United States, 13 F.2d 594 (6th Cir. 1926).

The other ground presents a more serious question. It is based on the concluding argument of the assistant district attorney, during which the following occurred:

“Assistant District Attorney: A skunk is always a skunk; you can decorate him any way you want to.

“Mr. Schlatter: I object to that kind of argument.

“The Court: I presume you better confine your remarks to the evidence.

“Assistant District Attorney: I also presume you cannot make a rose out of an onion, no matter what you do. * * *

“Assistant District Attorney: Take a weak-faced weasel, such as the defendant —

“Mr. Schlatter: I object to that; that degrading form of argument.

“The Court: I do not believe I heard that.

“Mr. Schlatter: I am talking about his attitude. It is for the jury to determine from the evidence. He may call attention to any discrepancy or call attention to any truth or untruth; but this is an attempt to defame the defendant, and picture him as a lower animal, and it seems to me it is absurd under the facts of this case.”

The assistant district attorney thereupon proceeded with his argument.

“Assistant District Attorney: — a cheap, scaly, slimy crook.

“Mr. Schlatter: Certainly this practice is entirely new to the practice in our section of the country.

“The Court: It is not what he thinks the defendant is —

“Assistant District Attorney: I think I have a right to answer these insinuations.

“The Court: I think you will make better progress by sticking to the facts of the case.

“Assistant District Attorney: All right; I will withdraw all those remarks.