Monday, February 27, 2006

Dear DA:

saying "I feel bad about this" doesn't change the fact that you did, actually, ask for my client to be put in jail and that my client will, actually, rot there until the next court date.

Thanks so much! Bye now.

- Woman

Thursday, February 23, 2006

on being an attorney: a moment of silence

It's 4:55 p.m.  The office is quiet.  I can see the top of my desk for the first time in two weeks.  Client files are tucked neatly away in alphabetical order in the filing cabinet.  Pens and paper are restocked.  Trash is gone.  Items belonging to others have been returned.  My "to-do" list has been composed.  All phone calls, faxes, and letters have been returned / made / sent.  My three-legged desk clock has reclaimed its rightful regal place on my desk. 
A while back I took on a case that went bad.  It went bad right from the start.  I filed a writ of habeas corpus almost immediately.  In the meantime, the DA made a terrible offer.  I haughtily rejected it, because I was sure to win the habeas - the bail was absolutely illegal.  I lost the habeas.  At this point, a client who certainly should not have been in jail was in jail, and had been for some time, and was angry with me.  The family called me daily.  I was wracked with guilt.  I cried for days.  I spent an entire weekend moping, unable to get off the couch.  I couldn't shake the case.  Finally today we got a resolution, an ideal resolution given the circumstances.  The family was happy, the client was happy.  I was relieved.
I was also working on a felony trial with another attorney.  It's a bench trial and it's going oddly piecemeal - one witness here, one witness there.  I had picked up a whole slew of cases all at once, and then I needed to find other people to cover them for me while I was at this trial.  
A few cases that should have been resolved haven't been, and so I'm scrambling to file motions.
One of my clients is almost certainly incompetent to stand trial.  
There just haven't been enough hours in the day recently, and I've been scrambling from moment to moment, digging things out of piles on my desk, fruitlessly rearranging piles, forgetting to return calls as soon as I promise to do so.  I even fell behind on my compulsive list-making. 
Currently I am being stood up by a complaining witness.  I even had someone else stay late to stay with me for the meeting.  Ah well.  I spent a wonderful afternoon making a list, clearing my desk, clearing the floor around my desk, and most importantly, clearing my head. 

keepin' the little guy down.

This BURNS ME UP.  It is INCONCEIVABLE to me that courts actually charge people for the pleasure of being arrested, dragged into court, and resolving the case.  I've met Mr. Rideau and his story is just heart-wrenching.  My clients, too, are often fined 'surcharges' and 'fees' for the pleasure of their involuntary involvement in the criminal system, and it's almost always a problem, particularly the court-ordered programs, which run in the thousands of dollars.  "Despise" isn't a strong enough word to describe how I feel about this setup.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Two highlights of my day

Scene 1: Public Transportation
Three young men board. One sits in the empty seat next to me (Red) and two (Mutt and Jeff) sit in the seats across. The conversation goes like this.
Mutt: spanish spanish spanish spanish snitch.
Jeff: spanish spanish spanish snitch?
Mutt: Nawwww man. A subpoena ain't snitchin.' That's different, man. That's a subpoena.
Jeff: How come?
Red: He told the cops he was inside when it went down, but he told D's sister that he was there and saw it happened.
Jeff: Awww, I see.
Mutt: Man, that's why you can't tell women anything.
Red: Oooooh, I sure do love the ladies.
Mutt: Man, I ain't never told the truth to women. I was never once honest with my last girlfriend.
Jeff: You were cheatin' on her all the time.
Mutt: Man, you really can't tell girls anything.
Mutt sees me smirking at him. He nods his head in my direction and blows a kiss to me.
Red, to me: Man, this guy right here. Something else.
They get up to leave.
Mutt: I got back spasms or somethin.' I gotta go home and take some Excedrin.

Scene 2:
Ridiculously difficult day at work, everything was a struggle. With the judge, the DAs, my clients, everything. Back to the office for lunch before running back over to continue battling. Found a box of Girl Scout Thin Mints waiting for me on my desk.
Cue Heaven music and lighting.
Welfare Agencies seek foster children's assets. 

Thursday, February 16, 2006

V-Day commentary

Seems that people are commenting on their Valentine's Day around the blogosphere. I worked late. The work had to be done and I volunteered because I had no other plans and I like making myself look like a martyr. When I told people that I was working, everyone said, "Awwww, that's sad," which would have accomplished the martyrdom I was seeking, but it actually just bugged me. I wasn't bothered by the fact that I was working, I wasn't bothered by the fact that I was single; it just didn't matter to me.

Turns out, I had received phone calls from two dates that night. I've seen one guy a few times; the other one I was making plans to go on a date with. I didn't want to speak with either of them, really... there's something awkward about talking to someone you're dating casually on a holiday that celebrates commitment and love. I was working, so I made my future plans with each of them and left it at that. My mom also called. She's great.

So yeah, I'm doing some dating. Nothing particularly fascinating about it - it's not heart-stoppingly dreamy or cringe-worthy horrid. Which is too bad.

watch what you email!

I'm not even sure where to begin with Abdala.  I can't believe this self-professed 'trust fund baby' accustomed to 'the finer things in life' will also be representing indigent defendants. 

Monday, February 13, 2006


Blogging is difficult now that I have a job and can't blog when so inspired. And, I've been crazy busy.

I've been having a great time in my personal life. I've spent the past two weekends living in the city's nightlife, out until the wee hours of the morning. I had the opportunity to spend a lot of time with people I haven't seen in a while, but love and adore with all my heart. I am also broke now. I take pictures with my digital camera all the time, as I now fancy myself to be an amateur photographer.

Work has been interesting. I've stopped trying to plan my days in advance. I've accepted the reality of PD work - the days take on a life of their own. There is no such thing as planning or scheduling. Which means that I either have to be mentally prepared for everything in the morning, or deal with not being mentally prepared. Still working on that one.

I'm currently working on a felony trial with another attorney. I spent two days running on adrenaline because the DAs were making impractical offers on cases that should be easily resolved. Anger is my fuel.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

'gotta be handy with the steel, if you know what I mean'

What do you think the bar association's / ethics & character committee's policy is on dating drug dealers?

He assured me he already had an attorney. He told me he was kidding. I should have asked if he owned a gun, but it seemed inappropriate.

I saw my first pimp today. Whoot.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

dating misadventures

I went on a date a while back with a guy that I met at a bar. I met him on the last night that I ever let Mr. Wrong crush my ego. I was so drunk and so crushed that I cried in the bathroom of a restaurant while my friends were sipping at their drinks. I wholeheartedly sobbed, reeling from the harsh words that had been directed towards me, and flailed about in my fear that I had deceived myself into thinking that someone would actually be interested in me.

Needless to say, I was vulnerable. Some guy at the bar started chatting with me, telling me I was beautiful, asked me out to dinner, and I might even have drunkenly made out with him in the middle of the bar. After subsequent phone conversations, we made plans for dinner the following weekend. I was excited to have a bona fide date - a date for which I needed to preen.

As for the date: Originally he was going to pick me up from my place, but then thought it would be better if I took public transportation. I took a bus quite a ways out, and he picked me up at the bus station. He honked the horn when he pulled up to the bus station. I climbed into car, and as with most of my romantic encounters, felt a wave of regret.

We arrived at the restaurant at the geriatric meal time of 5:45 p.m. The restaurant was in the suburbs of the city and I thought I had walked onto the set of an 80s hair band video. We sat down to eat and ordered wine. I love red wine and felt a little thrill when he ordered the zinfandel. Such a delicious red wine, California zinfandel. Except the wine that came out was bright pink. I've had my fair share of white zin in my life, and I'm not an elitist, so I sipped at my white zin.

"Do you like your wine?" he asks.
"Yeah, it's nice," I say lamely.
He sipped at it, making small smacking noises with his mouth. "Tastes like Beringer's. Kinda dry. Sutter Home is sweeter."

I was speechless. It's one thing to be unpretentious about wine, it's quite another to pretend to be a wine aficionado and say the equivalent of, 'Well, I can tell that it comes from a bottle and not a box.'

I try to get through dinner but I had long decided that this would not happen again. It was painful. We tried several attempts at conversation, but I found themto be unsuccessful. For instance, he unveiled his brilliant theory that NONE of us are actually American, because we're not Cherokee, or Navajo and they're the only REAL Americans, the rest of us are from somewhere else. "So none of us are actually American," he concluded, citing several TV shows he'd watched on the subject. Then he ended triumphantly: "See? I didn't need to go to college to be smart."

At the end of dinner he suggested we go to a bar for a drink. I agreed, hoping that at least I'd be out in the city somewhere where other people would be, and maybe there'd be a good band or a pool table or SOMETHING to make the night better. Where does he tell me he's taking me?

Oh yeah.

At this point I decide I need to reel him in. I told him that I was new to the city, and that I could go to an Applebee's ANYWHERE. I wanted to go to cool neighborhood, IN the city, somewhere we could sit down and chill out, like a neighborhood bar. He looked at me nervously as I was saying this, dumbfounded, and then finally stuttered, "Well, we can just, you know, TRY it, and if you don't like it we can go somewhere else." He could not comprehend why I'd object to Applebee's for an after-dinner drink. At 7 pm on a Saturday night.

So I went. And I was home and in bed, gratefully all alone, by 9 pm.

And that was the last time I went on a date.

so he drank like a river when the wedding bells rang

Work is going well for me, I'm keeping busy and doing all sorts of fun cases. Mostly drunk driving. Drunk driving cases go like this:

Client: "Yeah, I had a few beers, but I wasn't drunk."
Defense attorney: "The problem is, you blew a .18."
Client: "But I was fine to drive."
Defense attorney: "I know you were. But it's illegal to drive if you're over the legal limit, whether or not you were 'drunk.'"
Client: "But I wasn't drunk!"
Defense attorney: "The open beer the cops found in your car doesn't help either."

Lather, rinse, repeat. For additional shine, add any one of the following: hitting a parked car and claiming it pulled out in front of you, hitting a pedestrian (allegedly), insist that you were just going to drive the two blocks back to your house, insist that the beer bottle was not full of beer but rather you took the bottle out of the bar with you so you could pee in it later, and insist that the police test the aforementioned 'beer' to see if it was urine.

You can't make this shit up.

Also, another fun part of drunk driving cases is that the police will arrest people for driving while intoxicated. The arrestee then blows way below the limit, but instead gets charged with driving under the influence. Moral of the story: Don't drive drunk and don't drive sober.