From Wikipedia: “The Cheshire Cat is a fictional cat popularised by Lewis Carroll in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and known for its distinctive mischievous grin. While most often celebrated in “Alice”-related contexts, the Cheshire Cat predates the 1865 novel and has transcended the context of literature and become enmeshed in popular culture, appearing in various forms of media, from political cartoons to television, as well as cross-disciplinary studies, from business to science. One of its distinguishing features is that from time to time its body disappears, the last thing visible being its iconic grin.”
Here’s the scene (this is an absolutely true story): I’m holding court in Richland County in my very first week as a family court judge, and on my docket is a contested hearing with the infamous Douglas Kosta Kotti and another family law attorney, and before I start their case I invite them back into my chambers for a quick pretrial conference and to introduce myself to them. The two attorneys are cordial to each other and are both wary of me (justifiably so), and within a millisecond of being seated, Douglas K. Kotti blurts out, “Judge, I don’t know why we’re here. This case is governed by Panhorst v. Panhorst, and (the opposing attorney) wants to get into property and debts these folks had years ago and those things are gone…they’re GONE, Judge….well before the wife ever filed her Complaint. It’s clearly a Panhorst case, and we’re wasting your time with it.” Wow, I thought … pretty cool start.
The opposing attorney then began by quietly, carefully, artfully, and rather skillfully laying out his position as to why the parties’ marital assets and marital debts were “in play”; and every time this attorney completed a single thought, Douglas Kotti would mutter “it’s a Panhorst case, man”. Well, after about the third such “exchange” between the attorneys, Doug Kotti was now down to simply saying “Panhorst“, but this time I was watching him more closely, and he was turning his head away from the other attorney…and D. Kotti was smiling. The other attorney could not see this ever-broadening smile, but that attorney was fuming by now…and I have to admit that I egged it on (somewhat) by asking Kotti if he “cared to elaborate” on his position, and HE knew I was into his ploy. “Judge, one word – Panhorst.” And with that, the other attorney let out a scream in that office as he pointed his finger at DKK and said almost nose-to-nose: “G…d…it! If you say Panhorst one more time I’m going to knock the ever-living s..t out of you right here, in this office, in front of this judge!!!”
And with that, DK looked that attorney straight in the eye and almost breathlessly whispered, “Panhorst“. And then the strangest thing happened right in front of my eyes: K completely disappeared inside that office except for the last thing visible: the largest smile I have ever seen on a face of man or beast! A thing to behold.
And Doug Kotti – a/k/a “The Cheshire Cat” – forever became a legend to me…and we’ve been fast friends from that day forward.