Archive | October, 2010

Jury Trial Eve

19 Oct

Jury trials shouldn’t be so disruptive.  I should be accustomed to them.  I have tried many of my own and assisted with so many more, and yet, I never feel entirely prepared.  This particular case was prepared last month because I thought we would present it then, but as you know, it was passed, and then my ordinary hectic life intervened, and I have since forgotten everything I ever knew about the facts, but here goes nothing.

What the trial means to my home life:

1. Someone else will have to pick up Anna at 1:30 and Wade at 3:15.

2. Someone else will have to take them to their dentist appointments as soon as I nail down what day those are.

3. Miss Pat will have to stay until at least 6 p.m. every night and feed them supper and prepare the evening routine on Tuesday.

4. I will have to get down that box of tangled hosiery from the top shelf in my closet and pray that I can find an unruined pair of black stockings.  If not, I will hit Walgreen’s on my way to work for some second-rate, but hopefully unnoticeably-so black L’eggs.  I don’t think they come in an egg anymore, sadly.

5.  If you call me in the next 3 days, I won’t get back to you.

6. On Thursday night, I will collapse in exhaustion, but this case will be behind me, and on Friday morning, I can get up and tackle the 20 new cases that await my review before presentation to the grand jury.

It is just like a ride at DisneyWorld.  Once you buckle into that car, it is up and down and fast and slow, and upside down and around the curves, but you aren’t driving.  The facts, the witnesses, and the evidence take on a life of their own, and it’s always unpredictable.

So now I am feeding the children and counting the hours until they go to bed (praying to the sandman here).  Because that is when I will unpack my entire accordion file and lay out all the exhibits on the dining room table, and try to mold the events of one exciting evening into a comprehensible form to present to the citizens of Tom Green County over the next three days.

Chronological by event?  By first-responder-on-scene?  By order of convenience to out-of-town witnesses?  And then how to make it look pretty and professional and finally, believeable, because these jurors are smart.  They watch CSI and Law&Order and they know our job.  And those female lawyers (lawyeresses?) are tall and blonde and leggy and sneaky and smart.  I can only offer well-versed in my facts and determined.  I hope that’s enough.


Tales from the dark side

12 Oct

It is becoming more difficult for me to work with a certain defense attorney.  I am not referring to the one who slammed down the phone after screaming “YOU are the most unprofessional person I have ever worked with!”  me.  I wanted to ring him right back and say, “oh really?  well, I have never hung up on anybody I was working with, so who is unprofessional here?” but I knew that he probably wouldn’t take my call.

I am speaking of a certain lawyer whose friendship is getting in the way of my ability to project my anger at his client onto him.  He is always so kind and helpful to me that I will have a hard time nagging him, being unprofessional, or hiding evidence favorable to his client.  Or any of my other bad-prosecutor habits.  Of which I am sure there are many – I just haven’t yet been informed of them by angry defense lawyers.

This lawyer was one of the first people I met upon moving to San Angelo.  He was my friend for at least a year before I met his lovely wife, although he was proud to show me the newspaper clipping of her bridal portrait and their wedding announcement that he keeps with him all the time.  He showed me the yellowing newsprint at a seminar we both attended about 3 months after I started my job (14 years ago!).  We were down in Austin and as I wandered through the enormous hotel conference room, feeling very alone and ignorant of the subject matter that was to be presented.  I was so glad to see a friendly face that I sat down right by him and jealously clung to him during the entire course.  In retrospect, he may not have known much more about the subject matter than I did, but he always exuded such a calm, everything-is-going-to-be-all-right demeanor that I felt better just sitting near him.

Once I started a law office and I was scared that I wouldn’t make it in private practice, this friend came over to my house and sat with me and told me point-blank how much money he had made in the previous year from various fees and appointed cases and that he thought that I could be okay.  He practically laid his tax return in my lap, because he knew that I needed to know exactly what I was dealing with in order to be able to move forward out of the paralysis of fear that is such a central part of my makeup.

By then we were more than work-friends, we were family friends.  We still are.  When my whole carefully-constructed and maintained facade of  a marriage fell apart last summer, he never chose sides.  He continued to be supportive of me and the children while maintaining a good relationship with the children’s father – not an easy task for any of our circle of friends.  I was having a hard time then, but a large part of my worry related to what it would mean to our friends.  How could the wives be supportive and friendly with me while the husbands were still tied in with he-who-must-not-be-named?  Especially during dove season.

I set down some guidelines for being friends with both of us, and like all great ideas, they are very simple:

1. Unless it involves the direct welfare and safety of my children AND you are willing to testify about it, I don’t want to know what he is or is not doing; and

2. If you are having a party and don’t know whether to invite him or me, you have to choose me.

It is working out well so far.

So back to my wonderful friend, Brad.  He was just appointed to a really ugly child abuse case involving a 2 year old baby and some injuries that I won’t list here because you all aren’t as hardened to this kind of facts as he and I are and I don’t want to alienate you.  And when I told him that I was worried about working with him on this case because it will certainly be hotly contested, the first thing he said to me was this: ” Do not worry about this case.  You are going to make me an offer that you feel is fair given the nature of the injuries and my client will probably not want to accept it because you will be asking for pen time, and we will have to have a trial.  But don’t worry – you and I will still be friends and we are going to get through this just fine.”

Isn’t he just the wisest?