Leo was as tall and lean as a German ranch kid can be. His WW-2 job was to save the lives of pilots who crashed after returning from bombing runs over Germany. He crawled onto burning plains and extracted those who could live.
Every day was save or watch the airmen die.
After the war, Leo came home with a British wife. His plan? Never leave the farm, raise kids, milk cows, avoid all who weren’t dear friends or neighbors.
During the Jimmy Carter Era, the dairy business and farming went in the hole.
Leo’s banker “BIG NUTS” was a predatory lender.
Leo’s home on the Heart River was Shangrila and BIG NUTS wanted it. To get it he hired a liar, an appraiser, whom BIG NUTS told what to swear to under oath.
The Day of Truth-Telling.
In a Chapter 12 fight to save the loan encumbered real estate and chattles there comes a time when the debt ridden land owner, Leo, has to have a face off with lender’s appraiser.
Naturally, even honest bankers assert a high present value. Then comes live testimony under oath. There’s plenty of room to assert higher values but the appraiser must explain what he personally knows and that means he had to have visited the property and at least tried to have a walk about with Leo, the owner/borrower.
BIG NUT’S appraiser was caught lying.
He had original pictures, that means old pictures, taken by others and so he could not authenticate the evidence that supported his opinion.
At hearing, what Leo whispered to me was, Work him over, make him explain every picture. You know my machinery you know my ranch, Dooley!
Make him tell how my worn-out machines happen to look so good and ask him, Do they work? They are all old photos, given to him by BIG NUT’S, pictures of when my machines were new. He has no current photos of my old worn out machines. He won’t know that the photos are old. He has never talked to me or been to my ranch. Drive him nuts so that he gets himself strung out.
The judge will know he is lying. Go slow and then ask your last two questions:
1. What day, Mr. Appraiser, what day were you there? Pin him down. He hast to give a day and he has to lie.
2. And where was Leo?
I asked him questions about the value of machines and acted like that’s fine, pretending I accepted his answers. Then I asked, “Where was Leo?” And he quickly said, “Leo wasn’t home!”
At that point, Leo rose up, exploding with anger.
He bent over, all 6’6 “ leaning over the heavy federal courtroom table.
He slammed his fist on the court’s table and shouted, “I have been home for six years.”
At that point, Bankruptcy Judge William Hill looked at my client and nodded. Then he turned to BIG NUT’S attorney, smiled with teeth bared and said, “Break time, after I come back expect you two attorneys will have a deal and Leo, you and your English wife can can go home and milk cows again, in peace.”
And then he looked at the appraiser and said “Sir, don’t ever come into my court and lie again. You were never at the farm, isn’t that right?”