Win, Lose or Draw

Working in my office on Easter Sunday, because I really can't keep my head above water if I don't, I decide to open some inmate mail.

We have a hearing coming up this week and I want to be able to tell her, yes, I read your letter. That's the only reason I am opening it. I don't want it to fall out of my file folder unopened. I know it doesn't contain anything that will matter in our hearing. I skim through a few pages of, well, stuff I really don't need to know. "I don't have the time," I tell my client in my head, "let me get back to focusing on preparing for your hearing we actually have a shot at."

I finally get to the end, there, after her signature. I stop in my tracks.

"Win lose or draw, your effort means a lot. You are appreciated."

Working in my office on Easter Sunday, because my effort means a lot, I decide to open some inmate mail.

What's So Special About You?

I recently talked to an older white man who had been arrested for DUI. He was not a client of mine, but he knew I was a lawyer and he wanted to vent to me, so I let him.

He shared that the police hadn't been fair to him, that he had tried to tell them that he wasn't drunk, that the handcuffs were too tight, that he wanted to call his wife, and the police officers had not listened to him, had refused to listen to him, had persisted in arrested him and in keeping him cuffed tightly.

"A few weeks ago," he continued, "when I heard about all of these people protesting the police, I thought they should just shut up and respect the police. But, now, I kind of see where they're coming from me. If the police treated me like this, I can believe how the police could treat them even worse."
I'm so torn about this. I've been thinking about it for days.

On one hand, of course I am sorry that this man went through this, I am sorry when anyone suffers injustice. On the other hand, maybe there is a small part of me that is glad that one more person's eyes are opened to the injustice that others face.

As I said, part of me feels bad for what this man faced. But another, smaller part of me felt like saying, "Sir, part of having compassion for your fellow man, is being able to put yourself in his shoes without ever walking a mile in them. I've never been arrested and yet I have compassion for people who suffer abuse. Why did you not believe it until it happened to you?"

What do you think? Am I wrong? Should I just be glad he sees the light now, and sorry that this happened to him?  Am I judging him too harshly?

Things They Should Teach In Law School

A big part of my job is making up excuses. Especially about why my clients or my witnesses are late. When I was in the big city, I relied more on train trouble. In the suburbs, "He's just parking" is my new go-to. Everyone is always "just parking." Sometimes for hours or days.

But these are the things I think they should teach public defenders in law school.  That, and copier repair. 

B as in Blonde...

My client left a message for me and spelled her name in the cutest way. I can't help but think that it took her some time to come up with it. I don't want to give up her name obviously but let's just say her last name was Grubs.  Her message said "G as in Glitter, R as in Rainbows, U as in Unicorns, B as in Butterflies, S as in Stars." It was great! So cheerful... and I'll certainly remember to call her back! Oh, I'd better go do that!

Grumpy Justice

Step One: Identify whether you are a "loud talker."

Step Two: Learn to shut your office door, especially when you are on personal calls.

Seriously, you are all the way down the hall and I can't concentrate.

Gee, Thanks.

Judge, to my client, as part of the plea colloquy: And are you satisfied with the representation you have received from your lawyer?

Asshole client, who has wasted a ton of my time being an asshole client:  Well, I mean, I have some critiques to offer her...

Running Wild

One of the interesting things about working in a new court is learning the new lingo.  You say continuance, I say adjournment. You say FTA, I say bench warrant.

But today I heard my new favorite localism. My client was telling me about what happened with his cases in another county. "Judge gave me thirty days running wild."

(Note there is no article "the" here, always just "judge" instead of "the judge," "prosecutor" instead of "the prosecutor."  If I want to assimilate, I'll have to give up the "the.")

Anyway, where was I?  Oh, I followed up with, "30 days on each case? You had three cases there."

My client said, "Yeah, running wild."

It was then that I started to realize that maybe "running wild" was supposed to mean something, not just be some kind of exclamation.

"Running wild?" I asked.

"Yeah, running wild. You know, like I had to do all that time running wild."

I was so confused. How could you be running wild and doing time? If you're in jail, you're not running wild, right?

The client could sense my confusion because he then explained, "You know, 30 days then 30 days then 30 days so I had to do 90 days. Running wild."

"Oh...  consecutive?" I asked.

Blank stare.

"Not concurrent?"


"Back to back?"

"Yeah, that's what I said. Running wild."

To-may-to, to-mah-to, consecutive, running wild, let's call the whole thing off.