Today, the prosecution rested and the defense began its case in this dramatic murder trial I've been observing. (I think this case was originally slated to take 1-2 weeks. I also believe we are now in week 4). One of the defendants took the stand. He cried. I felt really bad for him.
The day in court felt like a week. There was so much excitement, from a law dork perspective. A juror issue, the prosecution's last witness, the defense's first two witnesses, the defendant crying, the defendant's family crying, defense motions to dismiss charges, oh, it was like Disneyland except with a Criminal Procedure theme. And lots of empathy. I finally found what drives me to practice criminal defense work - there's a human being we're talking about here, not just a violent crime. Humans have flaws, just as much as they have wonderful qualities. Today, I met the person, not the crime.
One issue that's come up several times is using retention of an attorney as consciousness of guilt (impeaching witnesses on cross examination). Why should that be a permissible inference? I think that the legal system is a giant heap of unknowable rules, and deterring citizens from using attorneys to fully represent their rights doesn't seem to speak well for our legal system. I wouldn't create a will without an attorney. I wouldn't draw up articles of incorporation without an attorney, or start a business without an attorney. Does using TurboTax imply that I'm trying to cheat on my taxes? Despite my discomfort with using that information to impeach witnesses, you can bet that if I ever become an attorney with a real job and a real client, I'll use that tactic.
As for the job update, I received an email regarding a follow-up interview with a capital trial organization. Booyeah. That's crazy. I'm going to do this second interview because it's an amazing organization that does wonderful and amazing work, in a geographic area in which I'm really interested, and I think I'll really enjoy it. I get super excited just thinking about it. But then there's the part of me that misses my kids so, so much. During an incredibly lengthy sidebar today, I flipped through my magic notebook in which I take notes on most legal things that I do. In the beginning of the notebook are my notes from the summer. The names and the faces all came back to me, and I missed them terribly. They make me smile brighter than anyone or anything else in the world. I'll put my juvenile law fellowship proposal/project on the back burner for now, and it will be there when the next wave of rejections roll in. I suppose the one thing worse than being rejected from everywhere would be getting an acceptance letter, and then having to choose whether to accept it or forego it and see what else comes along... juvenile law? criminal law? death penalty work? I feel compelled to go the places that are in the most need of adequate legal representation, but how do I decide that? So few people, I think, desire to do nothing more than represent juvenile delinquents, or abused/neglected kids. And frequently, the ones who do don't do a good job. But death penalty work is the ultimate finality in a system that's consistently failed a client. As for public defender work, adults who are struggling with mental health, addiction, and socio-economic challenges need people who desperately want to be their advocate. Which path will start my career? I sure hope that, like last fall/spring's hiring debacle, this one will include divine intervention that steers me to exactly where I needed and wanted to be (unbeknownst to me). But seriously. Perhaps I should stop being such a crappy interviewee and convince someone to hire me first, eh? Let's go with that.