The Harvard Law Bulletin for Summer 2018 was excellent, with its celebration of HLS clinics. It reminded me of my experience with the Harvard Legal Aid Bureau. There also came to mind the case of Poindexter v. Prosser. Are you familiar with that litigation?
William Poindexter ’49, a fellow Kansas City citizen, was my classmate. To the best of my recollection, the facts are these:
Our professor, [William] Prosser, asked if anyone in the Bills and Notes class had a $5 bill. Poindexter responded with the bill. Prosser then pocketed it and announced that he would keep it until Poindexter figured out what to do. After class, Poindexter marched down to the Middlesex County Courthouse and filed a lawsuit.
The case received some publicity, as I recall. But fame is a fleeting thing. Worthy of resurrection for your readers, however.
Editor’s note: In April 1948, The Harvard Crimson and The Harvard Law Record both devoted several articles to the “famous Case of the Five-dollar Bill.” In the end, after being initially scheduled for the Third District Court of Cambridge, Poindexter v. Prosser was tried in the Court of the Commonwealth of Ames. According to an article in The Harvard Law Record, Prosser was the victor in the case. In the end, the author opined, “Poindexter fared rather well.” The professor treated his student and his student’s wife, the plaintiff’s counsel, and the judge to a steak dinner. “The check was somewhat in excess of $5.”