Monday, December 10, 2007

keep me motivated to work less.

I very suddenly just realized that I've lost myself and it's time for me to get me back.
It was a very busy fall, which came after a busy summer.  My work days and work weeks have been longer because I've just been trying so hard to keep up.  I seem to regularly be working 8 am to 7 pm, plus at least one day on the weekends.  I'm chasing the idea that I'll actually achieve a point of being "caught up."  With doctor appointments, family commitments, and just generally needing time to do laundry and eat on top of my work schedule, I haven't had much time to be social, or read a book, or make a phone call just to say hello.  I miss cooking. I miss baking.  I miss watching football.  I miss dancing like crazy to a jukebox that my friends and I have dominated. 
My solution to the problems are:
1.  Leave work by 5:30 p.m. at least 3 days a week.
2.  I will not work on the weekend unless I am on trial.
3.  When my friends ask me to go out, "I really just need a night in" will be the occasional answer, not the usual one.
These rules won't last forever, but I think I need them at least until mid-January, when shit hits the fan all over again.
I baked a double batch of snickerdoodles last weekend.  This weekend, I think it's going to be rugelach and peanut butter chocolate bars.  This week I hope to push out some florentines and some sugar cookies.  If nothing else, baked goods will motivate my friends to come find me, which is the beginnings of a renewed social life.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

the best compliment ever

Last night I was introduced to someone who, after telling me her name, looked at me with wide eyes and said, "You look JUST like P.J. from My Boys!"  I stared back at her, my introduction smile frozen, wondering if someone had told her to say that to me.  She said it again, this time with an apology: "I'm sorry, do you know the show?  It's on TBS?  You look exactly like her to me."  I finally shook out of my stupor and beamed.  "I love that show!  She's my favorite!  That is the best thing that anyone ever said to me!"
Internet audience, I look NOTHING like her.  But I texted all of my friends who watch the show and told them I had just received the best compliment of my life.  One friend's theory was this:  I act and sound so much like PJ that it is easy to be mistaken for her.  I like that theory.  I accept it because it makes me happy. 
I know the past two months have been lacking any substance here on the internet.  In real life, there's been enough to keep me busy but nothing noteworthy in the sense that the story can't be told in a witty paragraph or so.  I had a series of bizarre medical ailments.  Work has been bonecrushingly overwhelming so I've been working many nights and all weekends  I haven't been socializing much at all and since I'm just dating one person now there are no new funny-then-sad dating anecdotes. 
I have started a few posts, about deep personal thoughts and struggles, about specific examples of raging injustices I see every day, and my thoughts on the legal profession and criminal defense in general.  Some of them I scrapped until the cases are really and truly over - some of them I just can't seem to write the way I want to communicate it.  I think about scrapping blogging completely, but I can't walk away from a forum where I can write something and know that a few someone's are listening. 
Between now and my next post, which could be a while, you should definitely catch up on the past two seasons of My Boys.  Your life will be better for having watched it.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

everything needed to be done yesterday; or, how to win $20k and lose it 8 seconds later

I shuffled into the house from work around 8:30 p.m. It was another 12 hour day, one of the many 12 hr days of the six-day weeks I've been working since, oh, August?  I was tired.  I was resigned to spending the rest of my natural life sitting at my desk and getting nowhere.  I've been engaging in the 60-hr a week fallacy for months now.  The idea that if I can just work late for this short period of time, if I go in on both weekend days and work late every night, then everything will be in place and maybe I can work a regular 50 hour week or maybe, if it's a holiday, a precious 40 hour week.  And that day was no different.  A 12 hr day worked, still no feeling of accomplishment or belief that I've actually made a dent in the ever-increasing pile on my desk.  I had 3 hours before I went to bed, and exactly 12 hours before I was to start a trial that I hadn't really prepared because I had 8 other trials also scheduled.
When I walked in, I had two pieces of mail awaiting me.  One, my bank statement, telling me exactly how little my 60 hr week gets paid, which is exactly how little my 40 hr week gets paid.  Two, a flyer with a scratch contest.  If I scratch the right number, I get $20,000 or a 10 day Aruba vacation (I could certainly use both).  I scratch the number.
It matches.
I look again.
They match.
I look again.  There must be a catch.
"No purchase necessary!"
No fucking way.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday.  I love that Thanksgiving is an entire day dedicated to eating and watching TV and socializing in a lazy way.  I wonder if there comes a time in your life when spending Thanksgiving with your friends, your family of choice, instead of your family or origin, becomes acceptable, or more rewarding.  I can't imagine not spending Thanksgiving with my mother, as I'm sure she'd be devastated if I told her I couldn't make it back.  She is proud of the fact that we have never once missed Thanksgiving as a family.  I'd hate to be the one to break her streak.  And it's nice to come back home and see people who come back for the holidays, to catch up and hang out, the only time we're all in the same place at the same time.
But.  The hassle of holiday travel.  Lugging the suitcase up and down the stairs.  Wrestling onto the bus / train / plane, stowing a bag.  Sitting in traffic.  Getting the time off work.  Not being able to shake work-related anxiety.  Dreading the return to my house, left in disarray in a packing frenzy, returning to a refrigerator left empty in preparation for the time away, returning to a pile of work that's a week behind.  It seems like just having one or two days off work, to fill my own house with smells of Thanksgiving baking, spending it with the friends in the city who have such limited free time generally, watching football, lounging around, being able to really actually relax - that would be Thanksgiving. 
Ah, the vacation conundrum.  Take time off to keep yourself busy with other things than work, or take time off and sit on your couch doing nothing all day, doing nothing to learn more about the world or to try something new.  After two years of work, it seems that I'm the latter type - as much as I'd love to do new and exciting things, at the end of the day, the only energy I have left goes to uncorking a bottle of red wine and planting myself on the couch.
I'm thankful to be with my family, to have a job that I love so much that it empties me, to have friends who, after all these years, I still see and enjoy and connect with.  I hope that your Thanksgiving is wonderful in the ways that are important to you as well.
Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

I AM a real lawyer!

I am writing not one, not two, but THREE legal memos in an effort, on three different cases, to persuade the judge to see it my way. 
Gosh, I can't remember the last time "law" ever came up in conversation in court.  The conversations are usually about one of two things: 1. What a bad and horrible person my client is based merely on the charges, and 2. why every single one of my clients who is charged with something should take the very fair plea being offered (to which I always respond, "It would only be fair / generous / reasonable if he were GUILTY, judge."  And then they usually snort or snicker with disdain.)
With all this law stuff, I'm starting to feel like a real lawyer!  The only reminder that I'm a fake lawyer is the difficulty I'm having with cogent legal writing.  It's true that if you don't use it you lose it.
I'm looking forward to hearing "Defense application denied" without any rational factual or legal explanation at the end of these hours and hours and hours of work.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007


Words cannot express my devastation.
When the Red Sox released a charity wine, I bought Caberknuckle.  And I waited.  And waited.  For months.  For the right moment.  Then the moment came, just like I knew it would.  The ALCS.  I wore my Wake t-shirt.  I pre-gamed with my bottle of caberknuckle and a select few Red Sox fans.  I kept the bottle to add to my Red Sox shrine, right next to the Mr. Potato Head.  And Wake pitched an awesome game (at first).  I only regretted that I hadn't secured a second bottle, for when Wakefield helped win the World Series.
But alas, it is not meant to be.  #49, you'll always be my #1.

I have a really good story

But I can't tell you until the case is over.  Which isn't going to be anytime soon, and is unfortunate because it was a good one.
So instead I'll tell you this one.  I was on my way out of the courthouse when I saw my friend and coworker across the lobby.  He looked like he was filling out a form for a client, and it was lunch time, so I figured I'd wait with him and then we could get lunch.  His client and his client's friend were sitting with him, both young males.  As I approached, one of them said not-so-quietly under his breath to my friend: "Ooooh look who's comin to see you..."  The other one was trying to get the attention of another young female, who had clearly come to court to find a friend or family member that had been arrested.  He kept saying, "Hey.  What's your name.  Hey.  You're cute.  Hey.  What's your name?  My name is Roger.  What, we can't trade names?" and she kept ignoring him.  Then the other kid got into it, just as my friend was finishing up their paperwork.  Finally I ask, smirking, "Are you really trying to pick up chicks in court?  That seems like a terrible idea."  And the first one replies, "No way man!  It's perfect.  They're upset, they're vulnerable, their man just got 10 years, it's perfect timing!"  and the second one says to my friend, nodding in my direction, "Well look who came up to you!"  Ha.

Monday, October 08, 2007

vacation won't help.

Showing up to work every day has become difficult.  I have a staggering caseload, an all-time high number not only for me personally but the office caseload is at an all-time high as well.  Taking time off only exacerbates the problem - because then I come back to work and the same number of cases is there, except a week behind.  Or covered by another attorney and not done as I had preferred.  There's no way to keep up, and no way to predict what will actually happen as scheduled.  So I'm maybe 30% prepared for everything, fully prepared for nothing, and stressed about everything.
When something DOES go as / when scheduled, I can then finally fully prepare and abandon my other cases in pursuit of representing one or two people fully. 
And that's how my day goes, day after day after day.
I was supposed to call Mr. Smith to remind him to keep his appointment.  I was supposed to see if Ms. Lynch actually maintained her treatment program as she promised, otherwise her case will become a lot more complicated.  I promised Mr. Williams that I'd visit him at the jail, because we really need to discuss important elements of his case, but I just could not leave the office.  I meant to finish adding to that DWI motion but I never did, so I guess that issue will be overlooked one more time until I have the time to argue it adequately.  Besides, why argue it fully if the judge denies it every time I peripherally mention it?  I'm not sure whose phone calls I've returned and whose I still need to return.  It never goes away!
I am really looking forward to when the weather gets cold, in hopes of arrest numbers going down, and more time for me to curl up on the couch with a cup of tea and a book.  Instead, the AC is still running, I'm still sweating profusely, and the work still goes on, and on, and on...

Wednesday, September 26, 2007


Today I took two pleas for clients who I believe were absolutely innocent and who were begging to take the pleas, and I took one plea for a client who was guilty and was indignant and enraged with the system about taking a significantly generous plea offered today only.
I don't like to fault my clients for not liking the legal process.  I don't particularly care for it either.  But I'm not a miracle worker.  I cannot get you out of jail just because you don't want to be there.  I cannot get your case dismissed just because you don't believe you should have been charged with a crime.  I cannot convince a judge to give you a 6th try at a program when you showed up once and failed to show up 4 subsequent times, despite repeated admonitions from all parties as to the ONE YEAR IN JAIL alternative.  I cannot beat your case at trial, which you so badly want me to do, if you never once return my phone call and skip every appointment I try to set up for us to prepare your defense.
One of the innocent clients had a case that I was sure was a slam-dunk acquittal.  He just didn't want to sit through a trial.  He wanted it over, Now Now Now, and took the plea that would have gotten him out instead of waiting a week to walk out an innocent man.  The other client I believed to be innocent had no way of winning at trial.  There was no doubt in my mind he would have been convicted.  The judge was giving him a really hard time about taking the plea.  We had to try it several times.  I was getting frustrated - my client could only allocute so much because he was innocent.  He couldn't say every detail because he just didn't know the details that he would have been expected to know, had he committed the crime.  I started to fear that my client would be forced to stand a trial he didn't want, to be convicted of a crime he didn't do, and experience and significantly harsher and longer penalty as a result.  In the end, it worked out.  But I didn't feel good about it.
I know I'm getting burnt out when I start minimizing my role in this crazy system.  (i.e., I am not a doctor, I am not an immigration attorney, I am not the person who decides your bail.)  I am completely overwhelmed by my caseload and the intense needs of handfuls of my clients. 

Monday, September 10, 2007

on being a public defender: Taking a punch and getting back up again.

I made the sign of the cross when I first came out of there, instinctively, the way my 2nd grade CDD teacher from Puerto Rico did it, with a kiss at the end right before the Amen.  I spent the rest of the afternoon sitting in the hallway.  On the wooden bench outside the courtrooms, in the hallway.  I was one of four attorneys.  Then one of three, then one of two.  Until I was the last one there on the bench, having handed over my one hope, the one thing that had convinced me that we could win.  I tried to read but couldn't.  I couldn't talk.  I was relentlessly thirsty.  My nerves were shredded.  Everyone else had left for the day some time ago.  I sat there, alone, on the wooden courthouse bench in the institutionally lit hallway.  I sat in the quiet courthouse, hearing the occasional echo of footsteps at the other end, nervous but confident that we would prevail.  There could be no other way.  Silence.  Anxiety.  Pacing.  More water. 
And when the news finally came, that things didn't go our way, that justice would not be done, I was there, alone, in silence.
I fled the deafening silence, reentering the rest of the world, the world I had forgotten existed because I had been so consumed by this.  I called the boss to report the defeat and confessed that my next move would be to curl up in a ball and weep softly.  By the time I got back to the office, just a few minutes later, I walked into an office with the boss and the three best trial attorneys one could ever want and they had another plan hatched for me.  A plan of action, not inaction.  A plan of attack, not retreat.  And long after the lights had been turned off elsewhere and the courthouse had emptied, the plan of action became action.  Then I turned off the lights and joined my people at the bar. 
Satisfied that I had done something, but still achingly disappointed, I joined my fellow PDs at the bar, where they circled their wagons around me.  They helped break that lonely, agonizing silence of the courthouse hallway by cracking open a few $2 PBRs, by aiming goldfish crackers across the table into mouths, and by offering that incredible support of people who know just the right way to help you move on.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Things I've been doing instead of posting

Traveling.  Not in the, Let's see the world! type of way, but more in the, I have a wedding / birthday / commitment / family gathering that I have to be at this weekend, last weekend, next weekend, and the weekend after that. 
Working.  Of course.  It never ends.  Current caseload: 120.
Playing skeeball and turning in my tickets for plastic rings and fake tattoos.
Getting in as much baseball as I can before the season ends.  Let's go Red Sox!
Creating a Facebook profile.  How embarrassing.
Trying to see if I'm capable of being "in a relationship."  The jury's still out on this one.
Getting in as much lobster and BBQing as I can before the season ends.  Yum, crustaceans. 
Edy's Butter Pecan ice cream. 
My Boys, 10 p.m., Mondays, TBS. 
Having a one-woman party on the first weekend evening I've actually been home in months, by unintentionally discovering that my CD player miraculously cured itself and started playing a mixed CD that was created 7 years ago, leading to dancing and singing and searching for other long-forgotten CDs, and in the process coming across pictures of happy memories that were good reminders of why we are all here and what it all means.
Things I have not been doing instead of posting:
Going to the gym.
Writing those motions.
Cleaning the house.
Doing laundry.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

These are not defenses.

I've heard a lot of interesting legal theories lately.  The ones that I've heard with bewildering frequency:
WOTL:  "Ok, so you're being charged with marijuana possession.  It says you had it in your right hand."
Client:  "Naw, man!  I didn't possess anything!  I was with my friend, and these two other guys my friend knows came over.  I just took a hit and was about to pass it to one of the other guys.  Then the cops came out of nowhere and arrested me!  Not even anyone else!  That ain't right."
WOTL:  "So the marijuana was in your hand when the police came up to you?"
Client:  "Yeah, I guess."
WOTL:  "So you possessed it."
Client:  "Uh, yeah."
WOTL:  "Let's talk about the plea bargain."
Client:  "I don't think you know this, but the charges have been dropped."
WOTL:  "No they haven't."
Client:  "Yes they have.  Maybe you didn't bother to check, but the case is dropped.  He/she told the DA they're dropping it."
WOTL:  "'Dropping charges' is like the Tooth Fairy.  Doesn't exist.  Only the DA can drop the case, and the DA is recommending 6 months jail."
WOTL:  "It says you possessed cocaine."
Client:  "Well that's not right.  How much does it say I had?"
WOTL:  "Two zips."
Client:  "See?  They gotta drop the charge because it was just personal use."

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

on being a public defender: destroying my youthful good looks

Not quite being at the point where I can coexist peacefully with the burgeoning wrinkles under my eyes, or the (GASP!!!) dreaded vertical wrinkle emerging from my upper lip (only grandmas have those!) because I am only 27 damnit, I figured I'd start accusing. 
Hereinafter, every blemish shall be labeled.  Did you ever have a family member or teacher that did that?  One that used gray hairs as a consequence of bad behavior?  Like somehow, my misbehaving or anxiety-inducing behavior influenced my mother's follicles.
"I can't help you stay out of jail if you're so damned insistent on finding your way back in" = wrinkles under left eye.
"I can't help you stay out of jail if you insist on never keeping your appointments with me or returning my calls" = wrinkles under right eye.
"Telling me that I'm on the DA's side and I suck and I ain't fightin' your case and I'm a worthless piece of shit" = wrinkle above lip
"Being accused by the DA of being deceptive and / or sneaky for requesting what my client is owed pursuant to the U.S. Constitution" = I imagine I must be sprouting a gray hair or ten for that.  I mean, I don't have any that I know of, but seriously, I owe an entire post to this discussion, because it happens so often that I am incredulous and mind-boggled.  Today, I was accused of using this "tactic."  Choke.  I'm sorry.  Did you really just call this a 'tactic'?  I'd call it "due process" or "a fair trial" but whatever.  If that's sneaky, then count me in.  
I do believe that my employer should reimburse for beauty maintenance expenses.  Not that I do any beauty maintenance.  But damn, a look in the mirror today really convinced me that maybe I should.  That wrinkle above the lip is scaring the bejesus out of me.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

growing pains

Usually I'm up as soon as the alarm clock starts blaring Mike and Mike in the Morning.  This morning, I woke up earlier than the alarm and decided that it would be more painful to fall back asleep for the last 15 or 20 minutes I had to spare.  I rolled out of bed and shuffled into the bathroom.  I stared emptily at my bleary-eyed reflection, squinting under the unflattering flourescent light, toothbrush in my mouth.  I looked around the bathroom, fairly tidy despite being shared among 4 roommates, wondered if any of my suits were clean, cursed myself silently for never having gotten around to getting those pants tailored (for the second summer in a row), and wondered when I'd have income to get that taken care of, or when I'd be able to afford another suit.  Or a bathroom all to myself.  I squinted at myself again, hair tousled, and thought, I wonder when I'll really be grown up.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Sallie Mae is a nightmare

I just had the most infuriating interaction with my loan provider, Sallie Mae.  It was so infuriating that it erases all previously pleasant customer service I've received from them.  Heretofore, I have recommended them as a loan provider.  Hereafter, I will not do so.  It was so bad that I'm now very concerned about them handling my [massive] debt for the next 30 years.  If I had any way to transfer my debt elsewhere, I'd do it this second in a heartbeat.
I applied for a 2 month forbearance.  It makes me feel yucky to do it, but just postponing two payments on one of my loans will help me get my finances straightened out.  (It's been a tight couple of months).  I got a letter in the mail confirming my forbearance, and informing me that my next payment will be in one month.  That doesn't make sense, I applied for two months.  So I called.  And so begins today's nightmare.
The first rep I spoke to informed me that the forbearance was applied to last month's payment.  I informed her that last month's payment was made, so it could not have been forborne.  She informed me that it was made late.  I responded that it wasn't possible, because I have auto debit from my account.  How could Sallie Mae be taking out money automatically, every month, and then deeming it late?  And if that's the case, why has no one brought this to my attention earlier?  Well, the rep informs me, I only started auto debit last month, after the late payment was made.  No no, I respond.  I've had it for at least one year.  On your other loans you have had auto debit, she says.  But not this one, not until after you paid late last month, she tells me.  I didn't pay late last month!  I insist.  It was automatically deducted!  I'm staring at my bank statement right here!  I'm staring at my Sallie Mae account right in front of me!  We argue back and forth like this for several minutes.  I'm growing increasingly agitated because this rep is telling me that I had one previously late or not-made payment forborne, which is why only next month's payment is forgiven.  Then she keeps trying to railroad me into just extending my forbearance one month.  I insist that I don't want an ADDITIONAL forbearance - I want a two month forbearance that I applied for, one that means I don't have to make two months payments.  (I was so insistent on NOT asking for an additional month's forbearance because there's a finite number of forbearances you can request over the life of a loan.  I didn't want to burn one because some idiot can't push papers).  She goes back to telling me that I missed a payment.  I ask what payment I missed, and she tells me a different date - this time a June date.  I informed her that the payment was made, she said I only paid part of it.  I told her that Sallie Mae took MANY HUNDREDS OF DOLLARS out of my account in the beginning of June, the entire amount due, and there's no way I missed that payment, because I'm staring directly at my bank statement.  She said I paid it late, I told her it was impossible because I had auto debit, and she told me I didn't.  They have been automatically deducting my payments for over a year - probably two years, at this point.  She kept assuring me I was wrong, and I offered to send her copies of my bank statements to show every single deduction made, endorsed "DEBIT", over the past year, on the due date.  She didn't need my bank records because her records were not wrong, she said.  And the forbearance covered that payment I made in either July or June that was either late or not made. 
After a solid 10 or 15 minutes of this, I was livid.  She kept telling me, "Ma'am, I'm not trying to argue with you, but our records aren't wrong."  And about then, about that point, was the time that I was going to reach through the phone line and throttle her self-righteous neck.  Finally I said in a voice that could slice through flesh, "Stop telling me I am wrong and let me speak to someone who is going to fix this."  So I got a supervisor. 
Only marginally less frustrating, this second conversation.  I explained to the supervisor exactly what I was calling about and what the representative told me.  The supervisor said oh yes, the forbearance that you applied for online was applied to the last due payment.  Well, I explain, that's impossible because I PAID that payment and made sure to apply for forbearance AFTER that payment was made!!  But that's how it was processed, she explained.  My two month forbearance covers last month's payment (which was made) and next month's payment.  So I don't have to pay next month's payment.  Well, if the forbearance applies to last month, then refund last month's payment to my checking account.  I cannot do that ma'am, the supervisor bristled.  So, I posit, if I had applied for a ONE month forbearance instead of a TWO month forbearance, I would have to pay next month anyway?  Yes, she says.  Which means I would have asked for one month's forbearance, and had to make every month's payments anyway?  Does this make any sense to anyone else?  Apparently the Sallie Mae reps are crystal clear on this. 
In the end, she cancelled my original forbearance request and reissued a 2 month forbearance for August and September (which she explained so poorly that I honestly had to say, "I want two months forbearance and just want to NOT pay for August and September.")  And she responded, Yes, that's July through September.  I'm pretty sure they went ahead and fucked shit up again, but the supervisor continued to assure me that what I wanted was exactly what she was saying.
And then, the call didn't end with a friendly, "Is there anything else we can do for you today?" so thusly, the call never addressed the issue of my late / missed payments because I've never had auto debit before, and it's just as well.  Fucknuts.  She was all, Bye.  And I was all, Bye. 
I tried to get online to send some customer service feedback email but lo and behold!  No such thing exists.  So the only person, it seems, that I can complain to are the very people who I wanted to complain about.  Excellent.
So this is my customer service complaint, Sallie Mae.  For the whole world to see.  Everyone will know that you are accusing citizens of not making their payments for YEARS when said payments have been made, everyone will know that you will tell your customers that they are wrong (inexplicably.  I mean, how in the world did you come up with this fucked up, "You don't have auto debit until last month" shit?  Of all the things to dispute - how in the world could you believe that you've never automatically deducted my payments?)  Sallie Mae, the whole world will now know that even though tells me that every payment has been made, on the due date, for the past year, on the auto-debit plan, that your reps will insist that's not the case.  I hope the word spreads far and wide, I hope all are forewarned, I hope that hundreds of thousands of people will become aware of the risks that they take with their finances when they agree to deal with you.
I anxiously await my next confirmation letter in the mail, due to arrive in 7-10 business days.  They'd better not dare to fuck this up again.

Monday, August 06, 2007

is it ethical...

to answer a client's family member's questions regarding the client's case?  What if your client's family member is on your side?
We all talk to family members.  Sometimes you can answer their questions, sometimes you have to insist on NOT divulging information to them.  Today in court, my client's mother was there and asked why her daughter couldn't get into therapy instead of doing a year.  I agree, as does the DA - the DA is recommending treatment or 1 year incarceration.  My client has adamantly declined both offers.  She doesn't want to be in therapy.  She's going to lose the case.  She admits she committed the act but doesn't think she should be punished for it.  If she loses, she will certainly get one year incarceration.  I think therapy is a much better alternative, given the strength of the government's case and the certainty of her incarceration.
So if my client's mother asks why she can't do therapy, do I say, "That's been the offer the entire time and your daughter rejected it."  Or do I say, "I can't really discuss the case with you." 
I feel pretty strongly about taking the therapy route, so I said, "I'm not sure.  We MIGHT be able to try it.  But it's really hard to do therapy as a sentence.  I wouldn't usually recommend it.  Unless someone was already really committed to it, it's a big risk because it's a long time to receive therapy, and if something happens along the way, it lands you in jail for one year.  Therapy is good, but it's difficult to do it in a courtroom with the judge and DA breathing down your neck."
I was hoping that throwing it out there, Mom can help me convince my client to take it.  And if my client doesn't want it, then she can always blame me, saying that I said it's too hard and too easy to end up in jail that way. 
Anyone else?  What would you have done?

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

I think about you sleeping, how you'll miss that morning tide. But my stomach is uneasy, and I choose to stay outside.*

Things were quickly resolved after the last post and things picked up where they had been. 
Until now.
And so there's this issue, maybe two issues, not resolvable, but both deal-breakers.  Perhaps I haven't been as detailed as I should be in my dating adventures, but this roadblock is a new one.  I would LOVE to tell you what it is, because I can guarantee someone will finally make me an offer for that book deal or sitcom that should be made about my dating experiences.  However, it doesn't feel right to share it, and I've only shared  my consternation with two or three people, and I'm going to keep it there. 
So yeah, it's a dealbreaker, or at least it could be, but I haven't broken anything yet and can't quite bring myself to do it.  I wonder sometimes if other people are in relationships more than I am because they have a higher tolerance for Things That Aren't Quite Right in a relationship.  I can't figure out if I'm that type of person or not.  I think I'm not.  I'm conflicted because I like spending time with him and I find him attractive, but we don't click.  We don't really have conversations, we just sort of take turns talking.  We don't have much of anything in common.  Things are comfortably casual.  I like seeing him, but I don't get butterflies in my stomach.  I haven't cut things off yet because I didn't feel like I had to.  But now that this new dealbreaker has come to light, and he's waiting to hear me say, I'm in or I'm out, I guess I may have to tackle this issue sooner than I expected.  How can I bring myself to say, "I like where we are now but realistically this is going nowhere"?  Damn it.
*Boom Bip, "The Matter (of our Discussion)"

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

regarding that last post

Disregard the "I can do good things at my job" because today came back and slapped me in the face on that one.
and by "uncertainty" I mean, he stopped calling. 
so that's that.
I did what any other healthy human being would do, and started drinking at lunchtime, and just stopped about an hour ago when I suddenly decided, out of the blue, that it was time for me to go home and cry.  Instead, I came home and blogged.  But the crying will probably come later.  Because I TOLD YOU SO - it hurts to unravel it all later.  There is probably a very good reason for the silence, but I won't be able to forget, next time (if) I hear from him, how it felt when I didn't.  And then we get to start from the beginning, where I'll keep him at arm's length until he tricks me into thinking that it might be ok to let go.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

every day, I realize...

... that Sanchovilla is the only person who reads my blog.
... that I'm capable of doing good things in my job.  I've been filing motions like a madwoman, and I have piles and piles more of them to write, but you know what?  I'm winning at least half of them so far.  That's a damned good batting average.  The rest of the ones left to file - those are going to be late.  Because damnit, I need a mental break.
... when I'm not burnt out, I do very well with clients.  With people in general.  I charmed my way through prison last weekend, and let me tell you, I've never been such a successful flirt.  Who knew corrections could be so pleasant?  And my client was grateful for my visit and my concern.  I'm so glad I made the trek.  Last week, I managed to de-escalate? communicate with? an incredibly difficult client who has some undefined (and severe) cognitive issues and get him to agree to treatment.  And I may have even convinced the judge to sentence him to treatment, instead of the prosecutor's recommendation to the maximum sentence. 
... that the disrespect, derision, disgust, and dehumanizing manner in which others regard my clients is my greatest catalyst (followed closely by my own dorky interest in criminal and constitutional law).  I don't always enjoy my clients' company, but I'll snap quicker than a GlowStick if someone tries to strip them of their rights, their dignity, their humanity.  Alas, I'm not particularly eloquent or sharp-tongued when I'm pissed - but I spit fire.  Don't fuck with me, and don't dare, DON'T YOU DARE, fuck with my client. 
... that wanting to avoid the 'lows' of relationships is a totally valid reason to have avoided them so far.  It makes me feel yucky, this uncertainty.

Friday, July 13, 2007

where I've been.

It's 8 pm on a Friday night and it's a perfect summer evening.  The relentless rays of the sun are gone although it still hasn't set yet, and it's the time of evening that everything seems more vivid right after the rays of the sun have passed.  There's a wonderful breeze and it's a comfortable temperature, just warm enough to be fine with a t-shirt but cool enough not to break a sweat. 
I regret that I've settled into the evening on my couch with ice cream.
I wish I had great plans for a summer Friday evening, in theory.  But in actuality, I'm tired.  I left work late and then had to stop at the grocery store because I hadn't been in over a month, although that didn't matter because I'd never been home, and then I skipped the trip to the drug store despite the fact that I'm out of just about every toiletry just because I was tired and hungry and wanted to get home before I ran out of energy to cook the dinner I had planned.
I came home and made skillet-seared tomatoes with mozzarella and parsley, and the accompanying sizzled citrus shrimp never made it into a pan although they are now happily marinating in the fridge, for tomorrow perhaps.  Instead with my tomatoes I had some leftover black bean and corn salad, along with my favorite summer fruit beer, and dinner was good.  Now I'm sitting down on the couch with the apartment to myself and if I hadn't shuffled across the street to my neighborhood Kwik-E mart, I wouldn't even know what a gorgeous night I'm missing. 
I've been out of town a lot.  A lot of weddings.  Visits with friends.  Several unpacked suitcases are spilled across my room and there is no clean clothing in my drawers.  This weekend was the only weekend left in the summer that I'd be in town and not working.  That all changed today, when I couldn't get in touch with an incarcerated client about whom I am deeply concerned.  That means I'm heading out to the facility tomorrow - a facility that is not particularly close and is quite difficult to get to.  It will be an all day ordeal.  Most of my days recently have felt like I'm spinning my wheels.  Every single case I have, it seems, is scheduled for trial, and as we all know, our system is not even close to handling the volume of cases caught up in it.  Especially now that it's summer.  99% of my work will not come to fruition, but I have to be prepared just in case THAT client, THAT day, THAT judge, will be the 1% to actually happen.  Preparing (or not) 100 cases for trials that you know won't happen, in addition to trying to keep up with motions and paperwork and program referrals and phone calls, is exhausting. 
Although I'm tired, I'm not unhappy.  I'm actually feeling pretty good.  I'm better off when I have a lot of work going on at once.  It keeps my energy level up.  Dating life has slowed a bit, but in a good way.  Since he's out of town, I have the chance to spend an evening by myself, and it's been so long since I've had to make time for someone else that I never realized how much alone time I need to stay sane. 
I'm going to put the devil's ice cream back in my freezer, get off my tuckus, and see if I can get to some laundry and mail-sorting.  That won't make my habitat anywhere close to "clean" but it's a start.  And then off to bed to get up, get to the gym, and start another workday.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

it's not you, it's me.

Tom asks, "When's the last time you were someone's girlfriend?"
Seven or eight years ago.  No joke.  Not since college.  Don't get me wrong - if I had my choice, I'd have a boyfriend.  But I haven't met anyone who I wanted to be my boyfriend, and even if I had, I doubt he'd want me to be his girlfriend.  I've become so accustomed to being by myself that I'm not sure how to include someone else in my life now.  Give me 2 more years and I'll officially be a spinster.  Not because I'll be too old, but just because I'll be totally incapable of forming intimate relationships.
In the beginning, Frontrunner mentioned that he was just getting out of a long relationship and wasn't looking to jump into another.  He said he tends to be in long relationships (5+ years).  I told him I have a 3 date maximum.  It's true.  So for the time that we've been dating, Frontrunner has teased me about this 3 date rule and has been determined to break it.  We don't count the times we've spent hanging out with groups (which is many) and we don't count the times that we sat on the couch and watched TV.  So by that count, we've been on 2.5 or 3 dates.  (Once we had dinner and drinks, then met up with a group.  Does that count as 1/2 or 1?)  And sure enough, I've hit the wall. 
I feared we'd run out of things to talk about, and I feared that's what would lead to the eventual demise, and I think that point has arrived.  I like him.  I think he's sweet.  I'm attracted to him.  But I don't feel interested. 
I'm not ready to walk away from this yet, because he's a pretty great guy, and I'm an idiot. 

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Supreme Court Conversations

Dahlia Lithwick and Walter Dellinger have a fascinating "breakfast table" conversation happening over at Slate.  They have it every year, and this year does not disappoint.

Monday, June 25, 2007


Sancho asks, How are things going with Frontrunner?  The one word answer is, Terrific.
But I'm not very good at being in relationships.  This is a bit of an Insta-Relationship, which is not what I wanted.  From the start he's made it clear that he's not dating anyone else, that he doesn't want to date anyone else, that he wants to spend a lot of time with me, that he totally and utterly adores me.  The good thing about that is that I never have the opportunity to feel insecure.  The bad thing about this is that I've fallen into the trap of letting this happen - talking to him every day, seeing him as often as we can manage.  While I'm with him, I enjoy it.  I like being around him and we have fun and we have good chemistry.  Then I can't stand it anymore.  I feel smothered, I feel like I need space, I feel like it's too much too fast.  I'm not ready to be anyone's girlfriend.  I'm not ready to move my life around for someone else yet.  When you make too many accomodations, that means you incur a greater loss at the inevitable end.  I like him a lot.  I'm not ready to say that I'm in for the long haul.  We don't know each other well enough yet.  I'm afraid to invest too much because it hurts to unravel it all at the end. 
Despite my [reasonable] concerns, I'm letting myself get swept up.  I haven't been able to set the boundaries that I probably should have and so, when he doesn't call I call him.  When he says, We can hang out whenever you're free, I take full advantage of every free moment I have to see him.  I hate that I'm so weak.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007


Work is very very hard today.  And it's only lunchtime.
Someone else please take over?  I need to go home and curl up under the covers for a while.  I am long overdue for a mental health day.

Sunday, June 17, 2007


I'm down to one, and I think it's for the best.  I don't think the remaining one is destined to last very long either, but I appreciate having the opportunity to figure that out without fear of getting busted.  I don't have regrets about letting the other off the hook, although of course I feel bad about it because he is a really good guy.
One of the problems with the remaining one is that he seems to be a serial monogamist.  Generally that's a great characteristic - but I fear that this has become an Insta-Relationship, which is not what I want.  I don't want to be in the habit of seeing someone or talking to them constantly, incorporating them into my life, before really knowing if this is a good fit or not.  He does not seem to have the same reservations.  I like his audacity: he's clear that he's really interested in me, he is very affectionate, he really wants to introduce me to the people who are important to him.  In my opinion, it's too much too fast - at the same time I think, well hell, what's the harm?  He is aware of my three date maximum.  When he first referred to my 'three date rule' I thought he was, ahem, referring to something else.  What he was referring to was the fact that I have not been on more than 3 dates with someone in the past x years.  (He brought it up, this isn't something I'd volunteer or even care to discuss). 
We'll see where this goes.  He's a nice guy, very fun, and kind-hearted.  I don't think we'll ever make it out of the small-talk and makeout stage, but it seems like it will be fun for whatever it ends up being.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

this sucks

I like spending time with him but then feel guilty about the other.  And so it goes, back and forth. 

Monday, June 11, 2007

fallacy of numbers

The LA Times has an interesting short piece on DNA evidence and the stats used to support / oppose DNA exonerations.  (From How Appealing). 

Saturday, June 09, 2007

This is where you have to tell me what I already kind of know.

I am interested in two guys, both of whom I believe are interested in me.  I have kissed both of them, on different occasions.  They are acquaintances who see each other regularly, but I don't believe they are friends independently.  The friend that they have in common is the friend that introduced me to both of them.  To put it differently, they see each other at the same functions that I would see them.  Given my dating history, I won't have more than two dates with either of them before something goes horribly awry.  So you have to tell me, Can I try dating both of them?  Just to see how it goes?  Because unless you stop me, I'll probably try to, with inevitably disastrous results.
Apropos of nothing, I'm watching one of my favorite artists, Stevie Ray Vaughan, on PBS and boy, howdy - watching him perform makes me feel warm and lightheaded.  Can you believe it's been 20 years?  I can't believe it's been that long... SRV, your music is still alive!

Friday, June 08, 2007

something in the water?

Like, truth serum?  Over the past 3 months I have had an extraordinarily high percentage of clients go to the DA's office, the police precinct, and the court - without telling me - trying to demand that their side of the story be heard, making statements about their case and demanding that the other parties involved be arrested, making statements about their case and demanding that their case get dismissed, making statements about their case and asking for legal advice from the police and from court officers.  I have never seen anything like it.  I need to add a line to my business card, I think, saying "Do not speak to anyone other than me regarding this incident or this case.  No, really.  I mean it."
It's happened in the past, but has been rare.  The past few months, I'm discovering that every other client is writing out a statement, both incriminating and exculpatory, AFTER they've been assigned an attorney!  It's driven me to drink.  Right now. 
Reminds me of one of my favorite slogans:  "You have the right to remain silent.  USE IT."

No Hilton for Paris.

You've never seen a more satisfied bunch of public defenders as we were when this news broke.  We were outraged when Paris left early, knowing full well that any medical condition of our clients (cancer, kidney / liver failure, acute psychosis, TB, HIV, broken ribs / jaws / arms / legs) would never get them sympathy or early release.  I don't wish jail upon anyone, but any one of my clients would have gotten a 45 day sentence for violating every term of their release repeatedly - and race or class should not influence that.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Today's News.

The Boston Globe reports on a medical malpractice case in which the defendant was confronted on the stand by his own blog.  The case settled the next day.
Come to us with your problems, they say.  Trust us.  This irks me to no end.  Organizing a meeting of illegal citizens with Homeland Security is a Bad Idea.  Encouraging the very communities that have their civil liberties violated DAILY to work with the police just raises my hackles.  Despite my distrust for officers, I can respect the concept of informing undocumented residents that they can go to the police to report crimes, without fearing their immigration status will come up.  (Unfortunately, that is not true in all states, particularly the states who are deputizing their troopers as Homeland Security agents.)  But I don't like the idea that citizens should be encouraged to regard police as general problem solvers - because they aren't.  Police arrest people.  That's their 'problem solving.'  They won't help you with your immigration papers (or at least, they shouldn't be.  They are NOT LAWYERS!)  They don't get your family member / friend / significant other into counseling or into drug programs when you call them (another widely held misconception).  And people should not be encouraged to trust police officers to search them without cause - because police are roaming the streets, illegally shaking people down, lying about how / why they found the contraband / evidence, and walking back out of the courtroom to do it again.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007


Aforementioned male:
You kissed me.  That made me all warm and fuzzy.  And I pretty much haven't heard from you since.  This makes me cold and angry.  Listen dude, I was minding my own business when you came by and started distracting me.  You can't now just leave me to continue on my mundane life.  I'd rather not be interrupted in the first place.

Friday, May 25, 2007

I'm not complaining, but still...

For over a decade, I've strongly held the belief that if I weren't overweight, then I'd be knee-deep in boyfriends.  My weight has always been a source of consternation, followed by my secret dislike for my teeth, my nose, my hair, my eyes, my eyebrows, my feet, and my sadly shaped tuckus.  Thusly, when a member of the opposite sex shows interest in me, my first instinct is to think, "Thank goodness there is at least one person in this world that thinks I'm not a complete and total reject.  There may be hope after all."  Only after that brief respite do I start thinking about rational things like, Do I like this guy or not?  Does he like me or did he just want to get a closer look at the rack?
So from this place, you can imagine that I'm both delighted and very uncomfortable with the fact that not once, but twice this week I had the same two men fighting for my attention.
I'm bewildered.  It's not comfortable to be wedged between two men competing for your affection.  I like them both.  I'd be interested in seeing both of them again at some point.  Just preferably not in the same place at the same time.

Thursday, May 24, 2007


If there are any readers left out there, well, color me surprised.  I haven't been too good with our communication recently, I know.  Things just get crazy sometimes.  I'm starting to accept that my life does not look like a Honda parked in the driveway of a 3 BR home with a backyard and a grill.  I'm envious of those lives, but it's not mine right now.  I've now embraced the fact that my life is work, work, gym, drink, drink, kiss, sleep, gym, work, drink drink drink.  Not necessarily always in that order. 
I've been out of town a lot lately, too.  As a matter of fact, since March, I've only been in town one weekend that I was not working.  This has resulted in me crashing pretty hard over the past few days - I feel like I can barely keep my eyes open after lunch, or after work, or after dinner.  That didn't stop me from drinking 2 out of the past 3 nights, however.  Aren't you proud?
This weekend is promising.  I'm in town, no plans to do any work, my roomies will be gone, the weather will be nice.  I should do spring cleaning, but I'll probably just watch a lot of the Food Network or sun myself in the grass.  But mostly I will just sleep, and I will love it.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Friday, May 11, 2007


It's been a long time since I've cried at work, which is great!  And is attributable to several recent changes.  But today almost broke that streak - almost. 
I had a moment that shot right through the routine of my day, right through my professional wall, that grabbed me and pulled me under into the depths of despair and it left me unarmed for the remainder of the day.
Yesterday was a hard day.  It was very busy and very, very, very long.  Towards the end, there were a lot of cases that were the perfect storm - domestic cases, clients with prior records, weapons, blood.  Cases that clients explained indignantly as, "It was a verbal argument" followed by "I haven't caught ANY cases in YEARS" (6 months ago = Years?) "I haven't caught a felony in a LONG time man, someone should be respectin' me for that!"  I'm sorry, you have 15 convictions.  I want to tell you that you're a good person for not picking up a felony in the past 8 months.  I do think that is very good, and I commend you.  However, I have to focus on what the judge wants to focus on, not whether you deserve a gold star.  But hey, no felony!  Bonus!  You're right, the reason you aren't getting out is because I didn't fight for you.  I mean, but for me, you totally would've walked.  Why did you tell me it was a verbal argument if there was blood found all over the hallway to the door?  That would've been good to know before we walked out here, really.
In the middle of a day of these tiring and ineffective conversations, one client asked very directly, "Am I getting out?  Because I need an xray of my chest."
And then I died a little bit inside.
The idea that there are people being roughed around by "the law" and thrown to the ground, knees in their back, in a chokehold, tossed over the hood of a car - the very behavior being condemned when someone not in uniform does it - just drives me insane.  This guy was banged up, and he was in pain, and I couldn't do a damn thing for him.  Nothing.  The cops will never be accountable for it, because my guy's just a criminal to them.  I can't stop them from doing it to him again, which they will.  All I can do is say, "I'm sure there's excellent medical care in the county jail" if I'm lying or, "I'll see what I can do" if I can't bring myself to tell the truth.  I want to hold his hand and say, "I'm so sorry for your pain and injuries.  We'll get you through this."  But I can't bring myself to make empty promises, either.
So you think your public defender doesn't fight for you, doesn't care about you, doesn't want to beat the system.  You are wrong.  Your public defender fights for you until she's broken and scarred, cares for you and wants you to be successful, and rages against the system more than you know.  And when your public defender goes home at night, she cries for you.

Monday, April 30, 2007


I got not one, but TWO wedding announcements today.  On top of the three weddings I'm attending this wedding season.  I had a great night being single and drunk though, despite the fact that everyone else is paired up and sober.
Single drunkards, rock on.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

I have no shame

Today I had a 'first' in my professional career.
There is a critical witness who can completely exonerate my client.  I don't have detailed contact information on him, but I have a ballpark estimate.  So I put my card on the door of every. single. door. in the area.  And then posted a ghetto-ass scribbled note where everyone in that area has to walk by to see it, asking for witnesses to call my #.
It's a bit embarrassing, the method, but if it works then it's worth it, and if it doesn't work then at least I know I did all I could, and didn't let shame get in the way.

Friday, April 13, 2007

theme song(s)

If I had to pick one song in general, it would be "Hard Luck Story" by Whiskeytown.  The tagline of my blog heading is actually a line from that song.  It's a fun song.
If I had to pick a song that played every time I walked into a courtroom, it would be "P I M P" by 50 Cent.
If I had to pick a song that played over the closing scene of my work day, it would be "The World Spins Madly On" by The Weepies.
If I had to pick a song that played as I walked down the city streets on a night out, it would be "Dancin' With Myself."

Thursday, April 12, 2007

6 yr old felon

Slate has this article on a 6 yr old kid who was ARRESTED and CHARGED WITH A FELONY for having a tantrum in class.  And even better, as far as I know, the charges have not been dropped.  If you look at the document, the kid was actually, really and truly, put in jail. 
It seems absurd and out of the ordinary, but childhood has been criminalized everywhere, everyday.  I cannot even begin to count how many times I've represented an adolescent sibling because their younger brother or sister called the police, saying they got in a fight.  And this isn't any unusual fight, where there were knives or anything involved.  Nope.  Just regular old arguing, sometimes some wrestling or pushing, and sometimes taking the other's property.  And the cops actually arrest people for that, and the DA never ever ever dismisses those cases.  It is happening all the time and no one seems to see how completely fucking absurd it is.  The judge issues orders of protection so the kid can't go home, the DA won't dismiss the case so the kid has to take a plea, and the cops are happy to arrest 16 yr old girls for pushing her 11 year old brother after he broke her cell phone.
NO ONE IN THE COURT THINKS THIS IS SILLY!  THIS IS FUCKING OUTRAGEOUS!  I only wish I could say it was unusual.  Unfortunately, the police and the courts are happy to criminalize this behavior.  I only wish you knew how often this happened. 
And to the school officials?  Shame on you.  You should not be in childhood education. 

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

I can be a homeowner!

I wa putzing around today on Yahoo's How Much House Can You Afford? calculator.  Curious, I decided to give it a whirl.  I put it my before-tax income, my loan and credit card payments, and $0 down payment.  No other expenses were taken into consideration.
The result?  I can afford a $-442 mortgage payment and $0 worth of house.  That's right, that's a negative mortgage payment.  I love mortgages where they pay YOU money every month!  How fun!  You know what these numbers mean, right?  THE GOVERNMENT OWES ME A HOUSE.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Monday Musings

I've been interrogated without counsel and no one read me my rights, over at PD Stuff's Monday Musings. 
I am this week's featured guest, which means that you should let me off the hook for not posting for some time. Over at PD Stuff, you can read about why I became an attorney and how I came to learn a stranger's feelings for women's vaginas. 

Sunday, April 01, 2007


I've started half a dozen entries and ditched them halfway through.  There are things I'd like to write about but can't seem to write about them correctly. I wanted to tell you why I decided to become an attorney, I wanted to tell you about the guy at the bar who told me his feelings about women's vaginas, I want to tell you about some interesting cases I have right now, and I want to tell you about how I've been enjoying my personal time.  When I sit down to explain it, it all comes out so dull and unfocused. 
So, my apologies.  But I'll keep trying.

Monday, March 26, 2007

chock full of crazy

Perhaps I am tempting the fates by saying so, but today has been chock full of crazy.  I think I'm done.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Manny being Manny.

Blonde Justice sent me this link - Manny Ramirez is selling his grill on eBay.  Check it out, if only for the pictures alone (he took pictures of himself with the grill!  It's legit!)

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

right track, wrong solution

Maryland shut down its correctional facility in Jessup because of the unacceptable number of attacks, on inmates and on corrections employees.  Maryland also shut down several youth facilities (Bowling Brook, Hickey) recently because they, too, were plagued with problems.
The solution?  Ship them out of state, out of sight, and out of the communities that they will be re-entering.  I strongly disagree with this.  Just in case you were wondering what I thought, Maryland.  I disagree with you.
I think the argument is strongest in regards to juveniles, but is relevant to adults as well.  With the kids in particular, it seems like a bad idea to take them away from their families and from their community to incarcerate them (I'm sorry, I mean "rehabilitate" them).  If the facility is a good one, offering educational services and training programs and mental health / behavioral modification counseling, then how is it beneficial to give kids resources that they cannot continue when they're released? 
And why is a prison in Kentucky or Massachusetts any better than a prison in Maryland?  Chances are, it's not too much better, and really all you're doing is moving the 'trouble' out of sight, out of mind.  You're moving people away from where anyone could advocate for them if they are being beaten, or are unsafe, or not receiving basic care.
I think the solution is more like what is happening in Texas - identify people who would do better by participating in services in the community (non-violent crimes in particular - drug possession, or even dealing), and provide services, instead of incarcerating them.  And stop 'outsourcing' inmates to other states. 

Friday, March 16, 2007

Letting go.

Finding out that we won't have to see each other again is a little bit of a relief, because it means you have to let me go.  I need you to let me go, because I can't let go on my own completely, not yet.  I'm trying.  But you're the only one who makes me feel like I'm beautiful, that I'm funny, and fun, and smart, and fascinating.  There's something so remarkable about finding someone, accidentally, who knows you like no one else does.  On my own I feel uncertain, unsteady, unwanted, uninteresting.  But you - you see me, and think that what you see is worth something.  Soon, after we stop seeing each other, I can stop needing you.  The connection will be cut.  I'll be lonely and uncertain for a while, but then I'll remember what it's like to just rely on myself again.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

false confession article

NYTimes:  DNA exonerates a man was arrested at the age of 16, confessed after 6 hours of interrogation, and did 16 years in prison before being exonerated by DNA evidence.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007


Seriously.  I'm so bored.  My life is so dull that on Sunday night when I was trying to fall asleep, I had nothing to think about.  Nothing.  At all.  I had to get up, turn on a light, and mindlessly surf the internet for something to DO until I made myself sleepy.
I'm trying to eat healthy and be healthy, so I'm trying not to waste my time, well, wasted, and trying not to eat crap foods.  I'm trying to be better about my spending habits and stop spending more than I make.    However, my life is even more boring than it was before, because at least then I was bored while drunk and eating melted cheese.  My house is clean.  My laundry is done.  I'm reading a book on the Supreme Court.  I have a few trips planned but I'm so bored that I'm not even excited about those things anymore.  Yeah, so I go somewhere else and do nothing for a while.  Awesome.  For almost a year now I've been waiting for something to inspire me and kickstart my life, but it's just not happening.

Monday, March 12, 2007

shout-out my peeps.

There are two attorneys who have been my mentors in my first 18 months of attorneyhood. They both have different styles and each have decades of experience. They have been my supervisors in the sense that I've sought their assistance, almost exclusively, in developing my trial advocacy skills and trial strategy. One is a quietly sarcastic, somewhat brusque-mannered, tell it like you need to hear it kind of guy. The other is a mild-mannered former hippie / activist, big hearted, kind, nurturing, big-picture type of guy. When I come to a crossroads on a case, I'll speak with both of them in hopes that one will agree with the path I was inclined to take. And several times, that's been the case - one says go, the other says stop, and I get to pick the one I thought was right all along. They are both excellent trial attorneys and excellent teachers, and we have all since parted ways.

Despite the fact that we've parted, I started working on a trial this week and they are the first people I contacted to help me work through some tricky strategy decisions. Both of them have been happy to make the time to speak to me. Tonight I needed a brainstorming session ASAP, so in the middle of his evening at home one of my mentors took half an hour to brainstorm with me and help me work out some perplexing issues that I've been having a hard time resolving on my own.

I love that I have them to turn to for guidance and support, for some nurturing and nudging in the right direction, and best of all, I like that now I can do more of the brainstorming and the decision making and hear them tell me that I'm on the right track. I love that they are still so open to supporting me and offering me their help. Having them as my mentors, two people who are such good teachers, great attorneys, with differing perspectives, is such a blessing. Every day I am thankful that I have these people I respect and care for, who respect and look after me.

My advice to new attorneys: Find these mentors. Get out and about in your office, meet the attorneys who are there, take every opportunity to brainstorm with as many attorneys you can assemble in a room at one time. You'll find the ones who are a good fit for you, and finding these mentors will forever enrich your life, even after you go your separate ways.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

leading people astray since 2004

Permit me to respond to your searches, Part 3.
Help for a burnt out law student:   Take a long weekend.  Skip a class or two, get out of town, visit people who knew you before law school, read the paper or a book or do something else that you just don't have the time for in law school.  You have to do it.  Get out of town.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

why I love being an attorney

1) I had an altercation with a client in the hallway of the courthouse today. After I spoke with her, her parents spoke with me separately, discussing their concerns regarding her legal interests and mental health. The entire time I was speaking to her parents, I was doing all I could not to openly gawk at the necklace that my client's father was wearing. He was wearing the largest gold figurine of a woman receiving oral sex from a man that I have ever seen. It's probably the only gold configuration of people having oral sex that I've ever seen, but it was larger than I would have imagined such a thing would be, if you had described it to me. And it was hanging from his neck on a chain.
2) I was speaking with a client about a domestic argument that escalated into threats being thrown back and forth, and while explaining what happened he said, "You know, it was like, [insert client singing first few sentences of female pop song here]. Like that." Please imagine yourself in my shoes, my suit, my briefcase, my courthouse, in this conversation, and having your male client unexpectedly belt out a pop song as a way of describing how he came to be arrested. Quite accurate, but unexpected nonetheless.
This is the best freakin' job in the world.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

it's one of several things.

1.  I've watched too much american idol, I'm burnt out.
2.  I've watched too much karaoke.
3.  or, American Idol is just not very good or entertaining this season and is just "really good karaoke" as Simon said.

Monday, February 26, 2007

on being a public defender: take trial advocacy

I had a DA object to my objection today.

I made an objection, the judge overruled my objection, and the DA objected to my objection. Didn't oppose my objection. Objected to it. And then refused to accept the judge's "Overruled" (in response to my objection) as an answer. The judge continued to tell the DA to stop, but the DA just REALLY wanted to keep going with his 'objection.' Finally the judge said sternly, "MR. JONES. I ruled in your favor. Stop while you're ahead."

object away

I had a DA object to my objection today.  Didn't oppose my objection.  Objected to it.
I made an objection, the judge overruled my objection, and the DA objected to my objection, and then continued to try to explain why.  The judge continued to tell the DA to stop every few words, and the DA just REALLY wanted to keep going.  Finally the judge said sternly, "MR. JONES.  I ruled in your favor.  Stop while you're ahead."

Saturday, February 24, 2007


I want to be in a relationship.  I want to be married.  I want to start having babies.
but I'm not.  and I'm pissed.  and insecure.  and wondering, why not?

Thursday, February 22, 2007


Behold the end of an era.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

race against the clock

This week the Supreme Court decided Wallace v. Kato, in which the Court determined that the statute of limitations for a federal 1983 civil rights claim for false imprisonment / false arrest starts at the time one is detained in that criminal proceeding.
Let's flesh out the logistics of this.  Now, being a defense attorney, my attention always begins at the initial detention of my clients, not when the cops say they are 'under arrest.'  Here's a common hypo.  My client is walking down the street with two people.  The police approach, ask them questions, and keep them there until an eyewitness drives by, unbeknownst to my clients, while they are pressed up against the wall.  Then the police ask them to come down to the precinct with them.  They go.  That takes an hour.  After 12 hours of 'conversation' the police then place my client and two others under arrest.  Another 36 hours or so later, my client meets me and sees a judge who sets bail in the amount of $500,000.
My client, not having half a mill kicking around, stays in jail for motions, hearings, discovery, and finally, trial.  The DA isn't ready for trial 3 times in a row, I am not ready for trial once, the judge isn't ready for trial the next two dates because there aren't enough jury panels available or because he's on vacation or whatever.  Assuming this is indeed a 'speedy' trial, the soonest that I begin voir dire will be at least a year from the day I met my client.
My client is convicted based on one eyewitness.  My client is sentenced to, oh, let's be nice and say 8 years.
Over the course of appeals, it turns out the DA never turned over all that stuff that is constitutionally required to be turned over to the defense but almost never is.  Let's say, oh, the fact that someone else's DNA was recovered from the scene.  The intermediate state appeal took  8 months and was denied.  The final state appeal took another year and hallelujah, his conviction is overturned.  I'll eliminate any federal appeals time here for the purposes of brevity, which no doubt would have tacked on another decade or so.
So.  When does the statute of limitations start to run?  The analysis that makes the most sense to me, for a false imprisonment case, is to start running the statute of limitations from the date of the decision rendering the imprisonment false .
The Supreme Court does not agree and even expressly rejects that rationale.  The Court in this case clearly lays out that the suit starts running at the END of the alleged false imprisonment.  That makes sense - how can you sue for false imprisonment while being falsely imprisoned?  The false imprisonment ends, essentially, as soon as a client makes his first appearance, arraignment, bail hearing, etc.  As soon as a judge sets bail, the false imprisonment is over.  In my hypothetical, my client was 'falsely imprisoned' for 48 hours.  As soon as he saw the judge who slapped him with $500k bail, he had two years from that date to sue for false imprisonment.
The absurdity of this rule is that many clients won't even be CONVICTED by that point.  And if they are convicted, either rightfully or wrongfully, their appeals process will not be finished.  JUST IMAGINE how many civil suits, with a significantly lower burden of proof, will be outright dismissed on summary judgment motions based on a conviction alone in the trial court!
And furthermore, after my client has been in for 3 years, half of it pre-trial, half of it post-trial, the only thing he gets to sue for is that first 48 hours.  (Further detention must be remedied through a malicious prosecution suit, virtually impossible to win, I would guess, considering there are still DAs in the world).

Monday, February 12, 2007

this. this is why I cry at night. or drink.

I have a client who is being charged with drug possession and resisting arrest.  This is a pretty common 'bullshit' fact pattern, where a client is stopped for no reason, searched, then arrested for contraband, and then charged with resisting.  These cases are a dime a dozen. 
This case in particular haunts me becaue my client can't take a plea.  Even if he could, it's crystal clear to me that this officer is lying.  Lying, lying, lying.  My client is innocent, the cop made it all up, and how in the world am I going to convince a jury of that?

Monday, February 05, 2007

stabbing heartache

I hate that it matters to me, every day, whether you look at me or greet me.  I hate that I hold my breath for you to give me a nod, or a wink, or to walk by and hold my hand a second too long.  I hate that you know how much it matters to me.
I never realized how much you watched me, or how well you read me.  I wish that I didn't need you so much.  I wish I didn't know the way you look directly into my eyes and see everything.  I wish I didn't know how it felt to be the focus of your eyes and your questions.  I was surprised to find out how much you knew about me just by watching, since I had never revealed it, verbally or otherwise.  I wish I didn't see it in your eyes, how much I amuse you.  I wish I didn't know how well you could tell what I was thinking or feeling, more than anyone else has ever been able to.  I wish I didn't know that you feel about me the same way I feel about you.  I wish you didn't challenge me and excite me and make me laugh and laugh at me when I'm being funny or just unintentionally absurd.  I wish I didn't know how deeply you care for me.  I wish you hadn't been able to look at me and tell me, right at the moment that I thought I was staying strong and trying to be indifferent and standing firm, that I was fragile.  And you were right.
I wish that this connection was something I'd had with someone, anyone else.  I wish this didn't make me more lonely.  I wish I hadn't allowed myself that one hard, sobbing, lengthy cry.
More than all that, I wish you weren't with someone else.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

our kids.

Baltimore Sun article on a 17 yr old who died after being restrained in a youth facility.
This makes me so sad.  Maryland has consistently had problems with their juvenile facilities, and frequently one of the issues that is highlighted is staff training.  Several years back, the DOJ intervened and wrote a scathing report that Maryland has been scrambling to clean up since then. 
A high school diploma is all that's required to work at these facilities, plus some training when hired.  I think what no one is willing to point out is that there are people in corrections who are just one conviction away from being just like the clients they serve.  They come from the same backgrounds and have similar behaviors and solve problems the same way - with violence.  Others are interested in a law enforcement career - cops on the make.  It never ceases to anger me, the utter lack of services or desire to provide services to incarcerated kids and adults. The U.S. has the highest rate of incarceration of any developed country, and in this country, society wants to see you convicted and / or incarcerated and doesn't want to see you again.  I have clients who do a year in jail at a time for possessing cocaine.  The past 20 years of their life have been spent like this, a revolving jail door.  The cops know them, and when they need an easy collar, they just roll up, pat them down, and throw them in the car.  (I've had several officers admit this to me.)  How has this helped society at all?  This hasn't made us safer, has it?  Can you believe how many taxpayer dollars are spent incarcerating people for being drug addicts?  Why don't we throw alcoholics in jail?  Why don't we incarcerate people for using too much gas in their SUVs or people who don't recycle?  Those choices are most certainly affecting the quality of our lives.
We should be making juvenile facilities in particular a career path for people who are trained in social services, who are dedicated to serving juveniles' educational and emotional needs.  These are our children.  There may juveniles in custody who are beyond these levels of care and who may need to be in custody just because they really are a danger to society, but sitting on them until they die is not a solution to the problem.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

prayers answered.

So I got a win.  It was a little baby victory, in the grand scheme of things, but a win that I really needed.  It made me feel competent.  It made me feel less overwhelmingly helpless.  It made me realize that maybe my job does matter, maybe I'm more than just a person who makes the judge and DA feel better about sending my client to jail.  Sometimes we actually win.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Best American essays

I'm digging into Best American Essays 2006 and came across this quote that I loved because it really does apply to all of life:
"I suppose the joy of finding an appreciative audience is better any day than some feeble notion of a destination."
- Poe Ballantine, 501 Minutes to Christ


It's that time again.  The time when I don't want to get out of bed, I can't stand to listen to my clients tell me one more bullshit story, I eat cheese and drink red wine like an addict consumes heroin, I won't answer phone calls because I don't have anything nice to say, and I'm pretty sure I haven't smiled in over a month.  If I did, it was fake.
I get along well with an attorney in my office who has an MSW (masters in social work) and since my undergrad degree is in social work, we talk about feelings, and debriefing, and our emotional investment in our jobs, etc.  Things that attorneys don't ever talk about, and that criminal defense attorneys should probably talk more about.  Today she told me two things that are very true. 
1. I expect too much from my clients. 
2. Good doctor, bad patient.  I can give help, and spend all of my time giving help to others, but you can't make me take help and I absolutely won't take it, damnit.
My clients, I think, have defeated me.  I have one client who was trying to snow me with some ridiculous story about why he was innocent, and I let him get about halfway through it before I told him it was disingenuous to try to claim innocence if he already signed a confession.  Why lie to your lawyer?  Why?  You spill your guts to the cops IN A HEARTBEAT.  And I'm not the one who beats you and arrests you and harasses you and instigates you with lewd, disgusting comments about what I'd do to your mother / daughter / sister.  If you tell me what happened, at least I know where the best defense will be.  If you try to come up with some alternate reality, then you don't have much of a defense, because you're the only person in the world who's singing that tune.  All the witnesses, the police officer, the DNA evidence, the medical records - those will flush you out.  The signed confession?  Yeah... you say it's not a confession because it only said that you were sorry, that you'd been arrested for it before, and that you might have done it this time but you'll never do it again... that, my friend, is a confession.  Don't let the police trick you into thinking you were making a "statement" or that they'd "put in a good word" for ya.  They were lying.  Because they want you in jail.  I want you out of jail.  Making up some fantasy world is not going to help that happen. 
I had one client who spent 10 minutes telling me what happened, that he hit the guy because the guy gave him a nasty look, so of course he was going to engage in a high speed car chase, that's doesn't make the resulting car accident his fault, and he concluded with, "That's why I'm innocent."  His story pretty much made out every element of the crime, and when he asked, "So how does my case look?" and I answered honestly, I immediately regretted not lying to him.  He insulted my legal abilities, yadda yadda, telling me that he's on his own, because people like me don't like to fight cases, yadda yadda, I'm a crock of shit, etc. 
Sending me on a wild goose chase all over this state and the neighboring states looking for witnesses who will tell me how much you're a liar will not help your case.
Assuring me repeatedly that you know all these people who were witnesses and will corroborate your story and you can get me their info, only to later tell my investigator that you don't know any of those people because they were just bystanders, and actually there really was only one, and he wasn't there when it happened, will not help you win your case.
So today, I did a hearing with a client claiming actual innocence, and after hearing the cop testify, I pretty much threw in the towel, mentally.  The judge even yelled at me for litigating a case that was so clearly a loser.  When I told the judge that it is not my decision whether to take a plea or go to trial, he yelled, "Well it's someone's decision!"  Yeah.  Still not mine though.  After the hearing, I spoke quite harshly with my client, and I regret that, because it's not my place to be angry.  It's my place to give legal advice and perform legal functions.  I have to stop expecting so much from my clients, it's true.  I have to stop expecting that they won't be able to stay out of jail, that they'll call me when they say they will, that they'll come to the office when they say they will, that they will see how hard I work for them, that they understand that it is not in my power to dismiss cases, that fighting cases means coming back to court, over and over again, regardless of whether you are in jail or not. 
I don't think that's necessarily what the attorney meant when she said I expect too much from clients, but to some extent it's true.  I have to expect that my clients will not trust me.  I have to expect that my clients, when frustrated with bullshit cases, will take their frustration out on me, because I am the one advocate they have in the system.  I have to expect that the truth is always somewhere in between. 
I had a former client stop me on my way into court.  He's a teenager and was on his way out of the courthouse.  He said, 'Hey!  I remember you!  You defended me once!  I recognize your face.'  I didn't recognize him, so I asked his name, and his name rang a bell, but I couldn't remember his case.  I greeted him, asked him how he was doing, and teasingly asked him how he ended up back in court?  He assured me he was staying out of trouble, he just came back to support a friend.  The court officers shooed us out of the doorway, so we parted ways, but something about that interaction made me feel good.  Today, I covered a case for a coworker, and the client thanked me for fighting so hard for him.  I really was just doing my job.  I didn't do anything over and above the call of duty.  I made arguments that I believed had legal merit, the judge disagreed, I made my record, made my demands, cited my law, and went on my way.  He thanked me for fighting so hard for him.  I thanked him for being so kind, and then wondered to myself how it is that the people who receive the bulk of my time and energy would never even know it, and would never care even if they did.

Monday, January 22, 2007

except for the last line

I admit it, I am watching Shallow Hal.
The quote that fits me to a T:
I know what I am and I know what I'm not. I'm the girl who, you know, gets really good grades and who's not afraid to be funny. And I'm the girl who has a lot of friends who are boys and no boyfriends. I'm not beautiful, ok, and I never will be. And I'm fine with that.