Wednesday, June 30, 2004


What a day. A crazy, hectic day at work. Then the verdict from the other case. Then more work craziness. Then a drink with other interns. Then to the sports bar to watch baseball.

I went to ESPN Zone as to not subject my roommates to a sport they couldn't care less about. But one of my roommates ended up coming anyway, with another friend of hers. A guy at the bar started asking me about my alliances in the game, and I proudly declared my love for the Red Sox. He and I chatted for about three hours, I thought we got along pretty well. He asked a few times where the good spots are to hang out, what sorts of things there are to do in the area, what sorts of things I've done in the area. We talked about work, where we're from, where we're going, etc. Dude, he was hitting on me. And I was delicately flirting back. It wasn't love at first sight but I still figured that he'd ask for my phone number before I left. But that's where I would be wrong. Considering booking the rest of my life under that rock in Siberia. If that's taken, must then finally succumb to sacrificing self on the altar of young, single, fun, intelligent, and yet apparently completely repulsive and un-dateable women. Ego: shattered.

I'll just chalk today up to a loss.

Verdict is in.


Monday, June 28, 2004

Dahlia, my all-time fave.

I have been following this conversation between Dahlia Lithwick and Walter Dellinger and would highly recommend it if you're interested in that sort of thing.

Supreme Court - June 28, 2004

Well, I'm done bitching now. On a positive note, today was an interesting Supreme Court decision day. It gave me something to read while I did nothing at work. It made me happy.

United States v. Patane held that physical evidence taken as a result of an unwarned confession is admissible. Miranda is merely a prophylactic rule, not a Constitutional right, and thus the failure to read those rights is not a per se Constitutional violation.

Missouri v. Seibert held (somewhat narrowly) that if an un-Mirandized confession is given, then the accused is read their Miranda rights, and then a second Mirandized confession is made (probably referring to the first statement, as in this case), neither of the statements are admissible. Souter, writing for the majority, seemed to indicate that if the circumstances under which the two statements are given are sufficiently different (i.e., location, time lapse, etc) then the second statement would be admissible because the average person wouldn't believe that he had incriminated himself enough in the first statement and would feel free to not give a second statement. This case was distinguished from Oregon v. Elstad on the facts. Respectfully, Justice Souter, that's a bunch of hooey.

The Court doesn't know what the hell to do with Miranda; Dickerson seemed to indicate that it was a Constitutional rule, Patane says it's not. However, there is a Constitutional rule in the spirit of Miranda, and damned if anyone's captured that yet. It's more than the "voluntariness" test that O'Connor's still pushing for but less than a steadfast Constitutional requirement.

Then there were the three War on Terror cases that I had alluded to in yesterday's entries.

Hamdi and Rasul held that people can be designated as "enemy combatants" which puts them in this new, heretofore nonexistent legal status, but they have the right to contest that status in court. I think this is an absurd result, because this whole "enemy combatant" thing has created a third class of people - people that are only entitled to the rights that the Executive feels generous enough to give, but who are guaranteed the right to contest this label in court. So, enemy combatants can exist, but the judge gets to decide in the end who deserves the label and who doesn't. Ahem. How the FUCK does a judge decide that? And just because someone is able to file suit doesn't mean that the judge's decision will be fair or logical.

Padilla just states that the Southern District of New York doesn't have jurisdiction because he has to name the individual actually confining him - which apparently, in this case, is some military person (Padilla is being held in a military brig off the coast of Charleston, SC even though he was picked up in NY). What do you think - would NYC or South Carolina be a friendlier jurisdiction to plead for justice?

There was another decision, Holland v. Jackson, that appeared and disappeared on the LII website. Dunno where it went. I'm sure it's on the Supreme Court website though. Too lazy to find it.

Someone has a case of the Mondays.

You know what I did at work today? Absolutely nothing. Not one task commenced or completed. I was at work for 9 hours and did nothing. And it pissed me off. There are some disorganization issues with my job that are really starting to irk me. I love the job when I'm allowed to do it - but sweet Jesus, what's the point of showing up for a job where I can't get any work done?

I was supposed to do hearings this morning, they never happened. I was supposed to teach street law this afternoon. Didn't happen. So, after a day of doing nothing, I ran an errand around 3:30 pm. I'd had a raging headache for most of the afternoon, and my toe, which I jammed into the cement pool last night such that it is now swollen, purple, bloody, and twice its normal size, was throbbing. Came back around 4:00 and tried to start doing work. The facility went into "secure" count - which means that no one can enter or leave. And at 5 pm, it was still like that. By 5:15, people were allowed to leave but no one could enter and kids still couldn't come down to meet with us. So we left. I was grumpy, and hitting a sugar low, but otherwise ok. Then I got caught in traffic. Then I decided to get Chinese food for dinner and they robbed me of my egg rolls, which I didn't discover until I got home. My room is a disaster, there are only two beers left in the fridge, and I've run out of checks so I can't pay my bills.

Peter Gibbons: Let me ask you something. When you come in on Monday, and you're not feelin' real well, does anyone ever say to you, 'Sounds like someone has a case of the Mondays'?
Lawrence: No. No, man. Shit, no, man. I believe you'd get your ass kicked sayin' something like that, man.

Sunday, June 27, 2004

God Save the United States and this Honorable Court.

Every once in a while, I have a fleeting moment in which all of the world's problems become piercingly clear, and my heart just about crushes under the weight. In such moment of realization, there's a sense of utter hopelessness. I'm not strong enough, I'm not smart enough, I'm not powerful enough to do anything about it. I can't change it. And then the moment concludes with the desire to flee everyone and everything, and maybe just live a simple life under a rock in Siberia.

And then I get up the next morning and start over, one step at a time, one person at a time, one problem at a time, in hopes that when my efforts cease at the end of a long life, something will have happened for the better for someone along the way.

Yesterday, I had one of those moments. This week I heard a story from two of my clients that just pained me - there is rampant abuse by law enforcement against these juveniles. I cried for the first time at work on Thursday. A lot of kids don't want to report it, because they know that the individuals being reported will just make life worse for them, and they just want to lay low until they're out of this system.

I spoke with a friend yesterday who works for my state's U.S. Senator, and I told him that there was an issue in regards to which I intended to write my Congresspersons. He assured me that citing my concerns directly to him would be more effective than writing a letter, so I told him that I was angry and worried that the recent (within the past few years) federal aid restriction, barring kids with drug convictions from receiving any federal aid, is disproportionately punishing lower-class, disadvantaged, minority youth. Some kids who get drug convictions can just have their parents pay or co-sign loans for them to continue with schooling. Other kids, who grew up in poor and violent neighborhoods, will be precluded from receiving aid - thus keeping financial aid from the very people who need it most.

The question on the FAFSA indicates that it is only in regards to convictions after the age of 18. The financial aid forms differ from school to school, but all of the ones that I've read indicate that the reporting requirement is only in regards to adult convictions. I'm not sure what the purpose of the law was - I suppose it was intended to deter college students from doing drugs - but in the end, the students that will suffer most will be the ones who could barely afford college to begin with. And then middle America will sit around and shake their heads, wondering why it is these young people just can't get their lives together and be good, productive members of society.

And then there's the country's foreign affairs. The horrific abuse and violence our country is inflicting on citizens of other countries in the name of democracy and freedom, the militarization of poor and minority youth, the "Trust us, we're the good guys" assurance fom the Executive branch in regards to detaining and denying basic civil rights to individuals deemed "enemy combatants" - the list goes on and on.

Last night, in that fleeting moment, all of these problems flashed through my mind. And that rock in Siberia was calling to me.

With the kids and their problems, I think I can do it. I think I can meet kids one by one, and confront situations one by one, and feel like I've accomplished something. [But for confidentiality, I'd be organizing rallies and demanding journalist exposes on the topics right this second.] I can wake up, take a deep breath, and for now I can dedicate my life to getting up every morning to tackle these issues - drugs, violence, abuse, militarization of youth. It's not going to be simple, or quick, but these are the steps within my power, and so these are the steps that I will take.

Soon, the Supreme Court will address the current legal designation and legal rights afforded to detainees. The Supreme Court has to respect the power of the Executive branch in a time of war [a power granted to the President by the very document which he seeks to suspend and circumvent] - and the Supreme Court must also protect the individuals' rights. If the Supreme Court tips the balance of power too far in favor of the Executive, the result will be abhorrent.

I hope that the Supreme Court will realize that it is their responsibility to wake up, take a deep breath, take the steps that are within their power to rectify the appalling violation of Constitutional rights.

Saturday, June 26, 2004

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

The poor lack adequate legal representation.

Who would have guessed it?

Random thought

So, I totally had a crush on this senior when I was a freshman in high school. I met him on a BAND trip to Annapolis, MD and fell madly in love with him. He had a ponytail, played guitar, loved Stevie Ray Vaughan (I love SRV) and was such a nice guy. Every day after lunch, I'd walk up the stairs to the math wing for my daily dose of Algebraic hell and pass him coming down the stairs. He was beautiful and wonderful.

Then, seven years later, I was working as a social worker in the middle of nowhere and the nurse supervisor for the agency had been coming to our office to help out our poor nurse who was swamped with work. My roommate was in the cubicle next to the nurse supervisor drooling over pictures of her son. I walked over to see what the commotion was about. Her son was my freshman year crush. Her daughter was in my class but we never interacted with each other. He's still playing guitar and he's bartending in my very favorite city of the whole state (near where I went to college).

Funny, life.

Trials and tribulations.

After some deep reflection but mostly because I'm too lazy, I've decided not to chronicle my week in South Carolina. I may change m mind - I might later decide to share my experience- but for now, I think I'll keep it vague and simple. It was a phenomenal experience, I would love to do capital trial work, and after watching a week of a trial, I can better understand why it is that public defenders despise prosecutors and law enforcement officials. There were three prosecutors, one I disliked, one I liked, and one about whom I have no feelings because I didn't get to observe him much. There were several law enforcement officials there as well - one I liked and one I strongly disliked. There are some good eggs and some bad eggs. After this experience, I wonder how in the world my fall semester at a prosecutor's office is going to play out. But for now, I'm collecting information about every public defender office and capital trial fellowship, and we'll see if any of those come through for me when I start applying for jobs.

Today was a really busy day at work. It was graduation for the school that serves the youth correctional facility, and there were some really great, overwhelmingly feel-good moments (I got a hug!) Some big people in the community were present for the occasion as well, so if it is in the press anywhere tomorrow morning maybe I'll post an excerpt of an article here. It was also a crazy day as far as hearings go, much less positive, but a good work day nonetheless. I don't want to say too much more about my job because I'm paralyzed by concerns about confidentiality.

I am craving barbecue like you wouldn't believe. That's the one thing I wanted when I was in SC and didn't end up getting. Sigh.

Saturday, June 19, 2004


I've returned from the trial and I'm working on getting some thoughts together on it. But right now, I'm just bored. I don't really know too many people to hang out with here, and one of my roommates is studying for the bar, and I've been entertaining myself here for almost a month. I can get out and entertain myself again today, as I will shortly, but I'd much rather be hanging out with people instead of all by myself.

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

In awe of the law.

Sorry, dedicated readers (all four of you). I'm in South Carolina for a death penalty trial this week and have no cell phone service and shitty, sporadic internet.

To summarize my week this far:
Abso-fucking-lutely a life changing experience.

Look forward to catching up with you this weekend.

Love and hugs,
Your Woman of the Law

Friday, June 11, 2004

Coming home after a few hours of drinks that included the $3 mojitos and then a gay bar. Certainly it's going to be increasingly difficult for me to find a nice young man to date if I'm hanging out at gay bars. but it was a good time nonetheless.

So, coming home, I felt incredibly lonely and sad - I haven't had a date in quite a while and the last guy I went on a date with had a girlfriend. Then I heard some shocking news that jolted me right out of my "why won't anyone date me?" depression. The news was in regards to a former job that I held. There are a lot of things that I can't say about it in this public space, but this news certainly unleashes a lot of unresolved feelings I have about the families that I worked with before I came to law school. It immediately redirected my angst.

It's been quite a night, and I think I just need to be in bed for a good long time.

Thursday, June 10, 2004

Well folks, it only took working here two weeks...

I can't be a prosecutor. I have to be a public defender. I can't possibly imagine myself ever doing something else.

Small problem: Full-time externship at prosecutor's office in the fall.

I love my job. I love the agency I work for. I love the people I work with. I love this city, with all of its problems. I want to do this. This is it.

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

My aching feet.

Woke up at 6 am. Sleeping sucks when one does not have a pillow. I wish I wasn't living out of a suitcase until January. My comfy bed and pictures and room and candles and decorations and teddy bear and PILLOWS are all still in Ithaca.

The job's pretty intense, but I'm starting to get accustomed to it. Today I encountered, for the first time, a few instances of overt rudeness directed towards me. I take it personally, although I've been warned not to. I've been thinking about why this may have occurred. It might have nothing to do with me personally. It might be because of my race, or my position. But it could be me, it could be my fault. I think that my mannerisms, while I'm being polite, may come off as arrogant and paternalistic. I can't think of any way to change that. I can't approach the staff and say, "Yo, wassup Mr/Ms [insert last name here]! How are my people today?" THAT, I think, would be worse. So instead, I stick with the, "Mr/Ms X, may I please see/have/ask...?" But I guess it could come off as being bossy and snotty. I don't pretend that I know what I'm doing. But today, it really irked me when a staff member looked up, saw it was me, rolled the eyes, looked away, and grunted in response to my requests. One of my fellow interns receives nothing but the most affectionate and cooperative responses from this staff member. I take it personally. It's my burden to bear, and it won't kill me to be humbled, but it still makes me uncomfortable because there is nothing that I can do to rectify the situation. And as a result, it makes an essential part of my job difficult for me to do, and of course this only hurts the kids. Doesn't affect my [lack of] paycheck. I did as much as I could, with consistent rudeness being directed towards me, and then I just decided that while I still had some things left to do, they weren't important enough to continue to put up with that. So instead of completing the tasks that could have been done, I went home. And that makes me angry too. It's my own fault for allowing someone else's actions control my own.

I'm listening to the Kanye West CD that I indulgently bought today. It's just too good not to own. All of you should go out and buy it. My fellow intern, G, popped it in today when we were going to grab lunch because he knows I'm feelin' Kanye right now. I think that G and I are slowly forging an interesting acquaintanceship. If that's a word. He's a great guy and I find myself just watching him a lot. He catches me looking at him, I'm pretty sure he thinks I'm out of my fucking mind because I'm always staring at him, but I think I have a lot to learn from him. I definitely have a lot to learn from the other intern L as well, and I'm thankful to have the summer to get to know them and work with them both. L and I communicate well. G and I haven't quite found a conversation pattern; we always seem to be a beat off. I don't know if that makes sense to anyone else but that is the best way I can explain it. I get the sense that we both know that we enjoy each other's company and make an effort to have good interactions, and I think we're both interested in the other's thoughts - but for some reason, the conversation, while always enjoyable, never quite lives up to its potential - it's like there's a sparkplug misfiring or water in the gas tank or a dirty fuel filter. It's going to take some revving of the engine, some spinning of the wheels, I think, before we get going. Then again, maybe we never quite hit the rhythm because he's just being polite. Maybe he thinks I'm stupid. But we had lunch together today because neither of us brought food. It was nice.

I did buy a pillow today at Target and I am looking forward to placing my head upon it. Oh, how the working world manages to consume my week. I found out today that I have Friday off though. Sweet. What to do with an entire extra day? And how cool is it that this will be my third consecutive four-day week? Then Sunday, I'm going to South Carolina for a week to sit in on the capital trial I worked on.

Sunday, June 06, 2004

The Miranda patchwork continues.

Getting back to the original purpose of this blog, the Supreme Court decided Yarborough v. Alvarado this week. Because of my work with juveniles, I have some pretty strong feelings as to how the legal system should treat them. My job has actually been pretty intense so far, and I haven't discussed it here because I'm not sure how much I can say without compromising confidentiality. I am interested to hear other people's reaction in regards to this decision.

Damn it feels good to be a gangsta.

I just went to the gym for the first time in almost three weeks; it was my first full workout in two weeks. Ahhhhh. The world is right again. I feel 100% better. I didn't do a full workout, I did 30 min elliptical, 15 min running, 5 min cool down, and 2 sets of 10 reps biceps and triceps. I didn't want to run for too long because I'm afraid that I'll be too sore to workout again tomorrow. I tried to actually join the gym, which isn't that great but it is right down the street, but the woman at the desk had no idea what to do and referred me to the "membership coordinator" who will call me tomorrow morning. Well I sure hope so.
Ok, so just now, the fire alarm started going off. A few people trickled outside, everyone else apparently just sat and waited for the annoying alarm to stop. Once we got outside, everyone got in their cars and drove away. It was amusing. No one wanted to stand outside like a tool so everyone just took a drive. Ha.

Friday, only myself and one other intern were in the office for the last few hours of the day. We headed out early because we had accomplished the discrete tasks that we were capable of doing ourselves without the supervision of the attorney. Thus, I was able to make it back into the city for happy hour. Happy hour is the thing to do here. This is new for me. I met up with my friend K, who lives near Marine barracks. yum. She told me that one particular outdoor-seating bar is generally crawling with young recruits, but oh no, it had to rain and no one was in the bar. Oh well! Merriment ensued nonetheless. We had $3 mojitos (mmmmm) and fried calamari and hushpuppies. So very, very good. Then we walked past the Marine barracks on our way back to her house. Apparently, the Marines have a parade in their little courtyard area every Friday during the summer, which explained why the sidewalks were teeming with people and why, every 15 feet, there was a Marine welcoming us to the barracks. Oh, those dress uniforms are to die for. So hot. Because it was drizzling, two Marines offered to give us an umbrella escort to the end of the block. How sweet. K's Marine was all flirty, and mine was old and stodgy. K has a girlfriend! This is unfair! I want the flirty Marine!! He was hot, too. Gosh, I love this city. $3 mojitos and Marine escorts.

On my way back from K's house, I passed a group of young white kids, one of whom had an "Ithaca is Gorges" t-shirt. I saw another one today, actually. Oh, how I love those shirts. Feels like home. It made me so happy to see it. Then, about a block further down, I passed a cop car that had a black male pinned to it, while the police officer was rummaging through a wallet. I had to stare. One thing that has become abundantly clear to me in the two weeks that I've been here is that there is overwhelming, so-thick-you-could-cut-it-with-a-knife, racism in this city. I'm delighted to be here because of the diversity it offers. I grew up among very diverse populations as an Air Force brat. My family's best friends were two black families. My first two boyfriends were black. There was an overwhelming Vietnamese population in one of the cities I lived in, and I was friends with many Vietnamese girls in my class. My 6th grade math teacher had one arm. I grew up accustomed to accepting people's differences. I moved to NH while I was in junior high, and managed to avoid encountering the social stratification regarding race that occurs, presumably, in high school, when all of those random social rules start to appear. So, re-entering a diverse population, I'm entering with the same idealist, "we're all just part of the human race," 12 year old mentality. My understanding of race and social interactions has been stunted at sixth grade. At first I thought that it hindered me, as I have a lot to learn as to what is expected of me in interactions. However, having to witness the rampant racism and appalling segregation in this city, I think that my ignorance as to these realities might serve to benefit me. It angers me to see that this is the way things are, but I'm so deeply appreciative of the opportunity to immerse myself in a diverse client population, a diverse citizenry, and a diverse summer class. Despite my struggle with the guilt of white privilege, I think it's going to be difficult to leave this community at the end of the summer. It's already hard for me to leave the kids at the end of the day.

Anyway, having spent two weeks being trained in regards to criminal defense, and having witnessed firsthand the effects of racism in the criminal system, I was immediately suspicious of the incident that I witnessed. I, of course, was ready to walk up to the officer and demand the basis of probable cause. I got caught staring, probably because I had slowed down to try to eavesdrop on the conversation, so I just went on my way. Two weeks ago, I wonder if I would have been as suspicious of the detention/arrest that I witnessed.

Saturday, June 05, 2004

Apartment in new town, Take 2.

I'm in the midst of moving. Again.

Moving out of the sublet that fell through was all very sudden. I got up this morning, packed in about an hour, and just moved. I'm kinda sad. I liked that place and I was really starting to get to know the housemates there. Now, I'm all alone out in the suburbs. But woohoo! I have internet! Which is why I have one suitcase in my room, four in my car, but I'm sitting here at my desk on my laptop.

There are no words to describe my job. It's been an overwhelming week but I think it'll make for a great summer.

Alright, I'm going to keep unloading my car at least until I find some clean clothing and some toiletries. Later, stay tuned for posts on my job, the city, and last night's happy hour.