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.


ambimb said...

Can I come work in your office?

evaNonsense said...

just found your site by entering 'this is my life' in google search. i'll keep on visiting your blog. it makes a lot of sense.

thanks for giving me a quick peek on the kind of life in the courtroom.