Domestic Relations: The Picnic Trial

"Courtroom drama," that trite darling of novelists and dramatists, has authentic origins: civilized mankind's transforming willingness to submit its disputes to third parties for impartial judgment. The ritual can impart strength to the weak, modesty to the immodest, and equality to the powerful and wealthy.

So last week the courtroom drama of Rockefeller v. Murphy unfolded be hind closed doors in White Plains, N.Y. Only the disputants knew just why Mrs. Nelson Rockefeller yielded custody of her four children — James, 13; Margaretta, 11; Carol, 8; and Melinda, 4—to Virologist James S. Murphy when she divorced him in...

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