I was the lone figure walking this evenng in the mist surrounded by the lamps’ dim lighting from one building to another to see my client.
It was the end of a day in which, perhaps more than I usually do, that I was living the life of a criminal defense attorney. I began the day finishing a domestic violence trial. I was ending it visiting another client who is presently a guest at MCI-Walpole at Ceder Junction
The jury trial had taken a bit longer than expected; they somehow usually do.
This is one of those trials in which I was reminded of one of my underlying beliefs…judges, prosecutors, jurors and witnesses are all human beings and are not simply defined by the role they play at certain events. If one can reach beyond the masks we don to live our daily lives and connect with the person underneath, then one can truly communicate. One has to understand that that person might have a different perspective than you…but people can disagree and still remain human.
This had been one of those trials. Reasonable prosecutor. Fair judge. Thoughtful jury.
What made it even better was that at this age, level of experience and reputation, I was not riddled with fear as in the days of old. I was also treated as a professional both in court and at prison.
You also get further with people without immediately engaging in hostilities. Again…recognizing a fellow human being goes a long way in being recognized as such back.
As I sat in the little room which was designated for my “attorney visit” and the corrections officer standing outside, I waited for my client and thought back over the last two weeks.
You may have noticed that my blogs have been published later than usual during last week and this week. This was because of my life outside of blogging. Last week, I had a dental emergency which kept me busy. This week was the jury trial which just ended.
Well, at least, unlike not so long ago, I still posted daily…or would that actually be nightly?
Having my work take me into the evening, or even start at an hour early when most civilized people are still asleep, is not something new. I learned very early in the game that the buisenss hours and other nicities that many deem necessary for a civilized life, do not always apply to those of us in the trenches of the criminal justice system.
Not if we really want to be effective.
Arrests take place 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. In Brooklyn, where I began as a prosecutor, that means that the courts are open 24 hours a day. That meant that there had to be prosecutors and defense attorneys around during those hours as well. Likewise, as a young prosecutor, I moved through the various bureaus investigating serious cases whenever they happenned and drawing up the necessary paperwork, interviewing witnesses, suspects and police officers. Sometimes a day’s work lasted 24 hours or more. It had to be done. Sometimes it was my job to do it…regardless of inconvenience.
This could often be even more difficult because I began under Elizabeth Holtzman who was the District Attorney when I was hired out of law school. Ms. Holtzman was known as a liberal and she did not blindly accept the view of the police when it came to criminal justice. As a result, the relationship between our office and the NYPD was not always the smoothest. The same was also true with many judges who were trying to stay afloat while the sudden influx of cases came in with that “new” drug that was hitting the streets…crack, cocaine.
Thus, a prosecutor had to realize that it often was not simply the defense attorneys, suspects and reluctant witnesses who we had to be wary of, but also the police who were OUR witnesses. As my years in the office went on, I learned that as the media became more involved, the politicalization of criminal justice blossomed and one had to also worry about covering one’s back by the “front office” of my employer.
All excellent preparation for someon who would become a “true believer” criminal defense attorney in Boston Massachusetts.
Some folks ask me if part of the fallout of dealing with these lessons on a daily basis as a defense attorney are what ended my marriage. The truth is that sometimes it exaccerbated the situation, but….no. She and I did that on our own. We always were a very effective team…even in destroying the marriage. Thankfully, it also helped us maintain a friendship.
At any rate, there I was, a bit later, leaving the prison and walking to my car as the dark rain began to spit upon me again.
Today had just been another of those countless days that remind me of who and what I am.
And it felt good.
I know that people often look as someone like me and, along with questioning how I can defend “those people” wonder what could be going on in that whirlwind I call my mind.
Well, that was a glimpse. Want more? Maybe another day.
For now, it is time to go to bed.
Have a great, safe and law-abiding weekend!