Several weeks ago, the Illinois Bar Association recommended that Richard Connors be disbarred because of a conviction in 2002 for violating the Trading with the Enemy Act (50 U.S.C. sections 5(b)(1) and 16). Mr. Connors’ crime? Smuggling Cuban cigars.
From 1996 to 1999, Mr. Connors apparently made no less than 31 trips to Cuba and smuggled thousands of Cuban cigars into the United States via the Mexican and Canadian borders. This operation apparently was quite lucrative—the cigars were sold in the United States for around $350 per box.
What makes this story worthy of a post on a legal writing blog? The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals’ judicial notice of the “cachet” of cigars. In the court’s 2006 opinion affirming Connors’ conviction, the court, quoting Cigar Aficionado,* observed:
[T]he leaves grown in the fertile soil of the Vuelta Abajo…cultivated and prepared according to centuries-old traditions, produce an incomparably smooth, pungent, and full-bodied smoke.
U.S. v. Connors, 441 F.3d 527 (7th Cir. 2006).
And, most interestingly, the Seventh Circuit noted it is not only Cuban cigars, but all cigars, that occupy a certain level of prestige in our society, quoting Rudyard Kipling from The Betrothed—“A woman is only a woman, but a good cigar is a Smoke.”
* I haven’t checked, but I suspect this is the single instance in which Cigar Aficionado magazine has been cited as a judicial source.