Low Point

I had the low point of my little career today.

The thing is, when you're a public defender, you get used to that same old question... "How can you defend someone when you know they're guilty?"

And I usually give the quick and witty response of, "It's easier than when you know they're innocent."

And, I guess because it is quick and witty, I sometimes worry that the listener hears it and just thinks I'm not answering their question. But I am.

Because I do think of it that way. I have clients who easily admit their guilt to me. They'll just say, "Miss Justice, it went down exactly like the cops say it did. What can you get me?" And I have clients who never admit their guilt to me, but I know that they're guilty.

"I didn't hit her. We just be having an argument."
"An argument? Her face is one big bruise."
"She walked into a doorknob."

Fine, they don't have to admit it to me, I know what the deal is. And I still fight hard for my clients, whether I think they did it or not. But, I guess what I am saying is, in the end, I'm not going to lose a ton of sleep when this "doorknob" client ends up doing some anger management program.

Maybe that sounds bad. But compare it to when I really believe my client is innocent.

And sometimes I'm wrong about that too. I had this domestic violence case once. It was a weird one, because my client was the wife, who had been arrested and accused of punching her husband.

"No," "No," "No," she swore to me, she didn't lay a finger on him. And I believed her. Because her husband had a motive to lie - they were divorcing and he was fighting to get custody of the kids. And, it was just weird - why would he even call the police after being punched unless he had an ulterior motive? Suck it up, take the girly punch like a man. Anyway, she fought the case, came to court a million times, and swore all along that she never laid a finger on him.

After months of this, she agreed to let her husband have the kids (she was "too busy anyway") and he must have decided not to cooperate with the prosecution. (Which, to me, just affirmed the fact that he had lied to get the kids, and, therefore, didn't bother to continue with the lie once he got the kids.) Finally, the court dismissed the case for lack of timely prosecution.

On the same day that the case was dismissed, I returned to my office and I had an envelope from the prosecutor on the case. He must have sent it a couple of days before the case was dismissed. It was my client's full and complete confession. Of how she just beat the crap out of her husband.

And I felt duped. And I doubted my ability to evaluate the worth of a case.

But that's ok. I guess it's sort of like the "Better to let one guilty man go free..." saying. Better to wrongly believe a client than to wrongly fail to believe a client's claim of innocence. I mean, look at those innocence project and DNA cases - maybe their original trial lawyers are out there somewhere saying, "Hmmm... maybe I should've believed him. Maybe I should have fought a little harder for him."

So I fight hard for all of my clients. And tend to believe them. But, the fact is, there will always be clients that I believe more than others. Whether it's because I relate to them in age (that domestic violence wife was pretty much my age), or because they're more personable, or because of their lack of a criminal record, or, for the most obvious reason of all, because their story is believable and supported by the facts.

Which brings us to two low points in my short (so far) career.

Twice in my career, I've had clients who I have felt, perhaps known, were innocent. In one case, about a year ago, I let the client make the decision - plead guilty and get out of jail (after a few weeks spent in jail), or stay in jail and fight it out. I really wanted him to fight it out. And, he wanted to go home.

I felt so crappy entering the plea. Which, at the time, was the low point of my career.

But it brings me to something I learned in my law school clinic. Our job, as public defenders, is less centered on guilt or innocence, plea or trial, and much more centered on our clients' priorities. And, rarely are our clients' priorities as straightforward as "Clear my name, prove my innocence, go to trial no matter what it takes" or "Admit my guilt, take my plea, no matter the consequences." Almost always there are other factors - criminal record, the sentence to be served, jobs to be had or lost, family members, immigration, and many many more.

Sometimes it's just routine. Like this post on Indefensible describes.

After the case last year, a senior attorney listened to my concern and then asked, "Is it possible that he pled guilty because he was guilty?" It's possible. I never know for sure that my client is innocent. I wasn't there. But, in the same position, even innocent, I'd probably do the same thing. I don't think pleading guilty always means you are guilty.

And, it happened again today. Lower than before, perhaps.

Today, my client, who I really like, and who I really believe is innocent, and who I think would have had a pretty good shot at trial, pled guilty. To get out of jail. And avoid the risk of prison after trial. I understand his reasoning. I'd probably do the same thing.

But, still, I felt really crappy entering that plea. I felt like I was betraying what I came here to do. What I went to law school for, and what I'm proud of. I felt like a bad stereotype of a public defender - although the plea absolutely wasn't at my insistence.

I just felt crappy about it.

I rambled a lot in this post. I think I'm trying to sort a lot of this out in my head. But, I think it goes back to the very beginning of this post. It's not just a quick comeback to avoid a discussion about defending "those" people. I am losing more sleep over the client that I know is innocent. They are the harder cases to deal with.

And I feel crappy about it. So, I've vented here, cleared my head a little bit. Now let's see if some ice cream and the Amazing Race can take care of the rest.

Grossest. Thing. Ever.

Tonight is garbage night. Meaning, the garbage is supposed to go out tonight to be collected sometime very early tomorrow morning.

I decided (after being gently reminded) to clean out the fridge before the garbage goes out tonight. (As opposed to many weeks, when, just after the boyfriend takes out the garbage I start saying "Oh, we should have thrown this out...")

As I cleaned out the fridge, I came across this little container of fresh mozzarella I had bought either on Election Day or Veteran's Day, I can't remember which.

Is it still good? Or has it gone bad? Maybe the fact that it's fresh would mean it would survive longer - since it was fresher at the time of purchase? Or, maybe it would mean it would go bad quicker, since it wasn't vaccuum packaged and whatnot?

I didn't see any obvious blue or green spots. What else can you do besides giving it the sniff test?

I opened the container and took a big whiff.

And my nostrils were engulfed in the nastiest smell ever.

Eeeewwww. Gross.

And there is no way to get such a disgusting smell out of your nose. I tried sniffing other things, like sticking my nose into a container of Ghiradelli Hot Chocolate Mix, but everything smelled like nice stuff mixed with rancid cheese. I'm afraid this smell will be up my nose forever.

I totally need to invent the nasal equivalent of mouthwash.

Just Tell Me Why...

Every frickin' time I go to the movies

And I mean EVERY time

I sit directly in front of

the one person in the whole frickin' theater

who spends the entire movie saying things like

"This is the part where he gets killed."

Thanks, asshole.

Seriously, if I'm doing something wrong, tell me.

Do I have a sign on my back, or what?

Retail Therapy

Last Christmas, I ordered a bunch of gifts from one catalog. It all started because my mother had pointed out one item from the catalog as something she wanted. She's tough to shop for, so I figured I had to buy the thing she picked out. They had some sort of free-shipping-over-some-amount-deal so I picked out a few other things for my mother and for other family members. I called early, definitely before Thanksgiving, and did quite a bit of my Christmas shopping in that one phone call. After every item, the woman taking my order would say, "And... we have that in stock." I got off the phone so proud that I had made a major dent in my Christmas shopping and it wasn't even Thanksgiving yet!

Early December came. And went. Nothing. I called and I was told, "Everything should be shipped already!" Mid-December came, and still nothing. We were getting down to the wire. I called and asked, "What's up with my order?" "Oh, we fell a little behind on shipping... but I checked the status and everything already went out. You should get it any day now."

Finally, it was December 22nd and I didn't receive my items. I called again, figuring I'd probably have to cancel my order. Again, the woman said, "Everything is already shipped! It should be there in time for Christmas."

"Yeah, but you've been saying that for weeks. And I'm leaving town for Christmas. I need everything sooner than Christmas so I can take it with me."

"Well, I don't know what to tell you. It's already left our warehouse."

I decided that I had to go out to a real store and buy gifts the old-fashioned way. And, when I got home after Christmas, I'd just have to return everything I ordered from this catalog.

I ended up running around the crowded stores, cranky that I was stuck in long lines with last minute shoppers, throwing anything I could find into my cart, when I had purposely tried to avoid that situation by shopping early. And my mother wasn't getting that stupid thing she pointed out in the catalog.

So, when I came home after Christmas with my family, I expected to find a big box of the Christmas gifts I had ordered. I figured I'd have to pay to ship everything back. Or, maybe I should hold onto it for next year or birthdays? Then I'd really be ahead on Christmas shopping.

What did I end up doing? Neither! Because, the only thing I received from this catalog was a little postcard listing every single item I had ordered as "backordered" until January or February. The people who kept insisting that everything had already shipped were obviously lying or misinformed.

I was furious. I had all of these ideas in my head about writing a letter to the company or something, but... you know... I got busy and never did anything about it. I did call and cancel every item. They offered me a discount or free shipping off my next order, but, I wasn't even in the mood to make a big stink. I just wanted my money refunded and for it to be over.

Since then, I still get their catalogs about once a month. I get a ton of junk mail, and I seriously spend at least a half-hour every week sorting through my mail and shredding junk mail. It's annoying, and I've tried taking my name off of some of the big lists, but the truth is that I order from catalogs a lot (and subscribe to a lot of magazines), and once your name is out there, it's hard to make it stop.

Anyway, I get catalogs from this particular crappy company about once a month. And every month when I receive their catalog, I think back to last Christmas and feel just a little angry. Angry that they have the audacity to keep sending me catalogs after the crap they pulled last year. (I know, I know, it's not as if someone is personally addressing these catalogs to me, it's just a name on a mailing list, but still, it bugs me.)

A couple of nights ago, I had an annoying commute home in the rain. I was tired, I was cold, I was wet, I was cranky. I got home, checked my mail, and what should I find? That's right, one of these catalogs. As I walked in the door, I picked up the phone and called the phone number on the catalog. I waited on hold while I took off my shoes, my coat.

I was stewing the entire time I was on hold. How dare they play Christmas carols as their hold music, when they obviously don't care if the completely ruin someone's holiday?

Finally, some poor young man somewhere answered and I was ready for him. I just let him have it. I know, again, not his fault. But, guess what, that's some of the crap you have to take when you work in customer service. Believe me, I take all sorts of crap for things that aren't my fault.

After a few minutes, and many many promises that I would never ever receive another piece of mail from their crappy company, the poor young man tried to make his exit from the conversation.

"Well, thank you very much for your call, Miss Justice, and have a nice night."
"Yes, Miss Justice, I've removed you from our mailing lists."
"Ok, so, I've removed you from the mailing list. You have a good night."
"That's right, you won't get our catalogs anymore. Now, if there's nothing else I can do for you tonight... you have a good night."

Fine. Finally I let him off the hook.


And, with that, it was over.

And I felt SO much better! Seriously, it was better than a massage, better than yoga. And it has the added benefit of reducing my junk mail. And reducing my monthly stress when I get their catalogs. And probably reducing a lot of strain on my postman. And reducing the amount of pointless bitching directed at the boyfriend.

Yes, it's a good thing all around. And that's why, I've decided that I'm going to start unsubscribing myself to one piece of junk mail every crappy night. Matter of fact, I'm going to keep a pile right by my phone for when I need a little relief.

Aaah... I feel better just thinking about it.

Yum - My Favorite Part

You Are The Cranberry Sauce

A little sweet, a little sour - you've got the flava!
Though, you do tend to squish in people's mouths...

Wonderful. I love the cranberry sauce.

Actually, now that I think about it, why do we limit cranberry sauce to one meal a year? That's something we should be eating year round. And why just with turkey?

(link via E. McPan)

AR Moment of Zen

And then this week, when I have no time to write whatsoever, Amazing Race is chock full of great quotes.

First, not a quote, but let me say that I can't stand the Weavers and their sour grapes. No one wants to be friends with them (and every clip of them expalins why - they're constantly complaining, negative, and rude to the other teams), yet they're constantly shown whining, "No one likes us." And then saying "We wouldn't want to be friends with them anyway," "No way, we're better than that."

I wonder (and often wonder when watching reality tv) whether they'll end up watching this and saying, "Wow, we're really worse than we thought, maybe we're the ones who should change." But I guess the same people who can misbehave in this way on television and blame it on everyone else probably just won't ever get it. (And, it's different from reality tv contestants who are purposely misbehaving for some kind of notoriety - The Weavers seem to be genuinely perplexed about why nobody likes them.)

Anyway, now for the quotes: There were many many to choose from this week, so first, here's a runner-up:
Weaver Mom: "Utah is the Mormon state."
One of those annoying kids: "Aah! No wonder..."

WTF? Did anyone get this? Is it possible that there was more to this quote that we didn't see or hear?

And... the winner is... Your Amazing Race Moment of Zen:
This quote is from the Linz Family (referring to The Weavers, that annoying Florida family):

One Linz: The wicked witch of the east and her 3 little monkeys.
Another Linz (imitating the Weaver mom): Those Linzes are just nasty!
Third Linz: Someone's gonna come and drop a house on her head.

The One With The Nice Suits?

I guess now that I think about it it would probably bother me more if they just don't have any nickname for me at all.

If I just don't make enough of an impression.

That'd be disappointing.

Or maybe they're just not all that creative.

Probably more likely.

A Horse Is A Horse

Another fall comes, and with it, another new class of prosecutors has started. Mid-November, and they're finally taking their places in the courtrooms, testing out their wings without a trainer-Prosecutor to look over their shoulder.

Whatever I-want-to-help-people mentality they had just a few short months ago when they graduated from law school has been quickly efficiently brainwashed away and replaced with a new No-infraction-too-insignifacant-no-punishment-too-punitive and eager-to-go-to-trial-although-I'm-not-quite-sure-yet-what-that-entails disposition.

This means, of course that it is that time of the year... time to start giving those annoying little prosecutors their nicknames.

Last night, I was walking down the street with a few colleagues and friends.

"What about that one... you know... the one that looks like a horse?"
"Horse? Nah, not creative enough. But she does looks like a horse. Mr. Ed?"
"WHAT? What does that even mean?"
"Smarty Jones? Seabiscuit?"

Finally someone's non-PD girlfriend spoke up.

"Um, you guys think they have nicknames for you?"

Just like that. One little comment. And I spent all day today thinking of what their nickname for me might be... the smart one? the pretty one? the nice one? the one with the really crazy clients?

Yes, I'm sure it's one of those.

Holiday Gift Advice, Please

A friend is having a little holiday get-together. She does it every year (but I've never gone before.)

The invite this year adds, "Let's start a new tradition - a holiday grab bag. Bring a small gift - $10 LIMIT - the funnier the better. You have to bring a gift to get a gift."

The FUNNIER the better? $10 Limit? This is going to be tough.

I probably won't shop online, just because shipping will mess up that $10 limit, so I'm thinking I'll probably start at a toy store or something... but you're all creative. Any ideas?


Gore-gyles? Is that anything like argyle?

Paris Hilton left this in a comment for me, and it is just TOO good not to share...

ebay: Talking bobblehead nodder trading spouses GOD WARRIOR!!

I especially like the part of the ad that says:

"I need you to PRAY for this auction! Please watch this item now to show me your prayers are with me!"

I, for one, clicked on "watch this item."

Now you know what to get me for Christmas.

I Want My AR!

Stupid country music. I'm sorry that your dog died and your truck broke down and your girl left you for another cowboy, but why do you have to mess with my Amazing Race?

That reminds me... I never did a quote of the week from last week's AR. I can't remember anything great really jumping out at me. Anyone have any suggestions?

And, finally, this week's AR hiatus allows me to watch another great show: My Name Is Earl. I got caught up with last week when there was a mini-marathon of 4 episodes before Jason Lee hosted SNL. I haven't laughed so much at a sitcom in a long time.
So, tonight, I'll watch Earl. And TiVo House.

Better watch out, AR, looks like you're pretty easily replaced.

Biting My Tongue

Yesterday I had a case before a judge that I have not been in front of often.

I knew her, and her reputation, but I guess she didn't know me.

I got to the courtroom and let the clerk know I was there. The clerk told me it would be a little while - they had another matter on trial in the same court room, and they were going to try to hear my case quickly during the jury's next break.

I went to the pens and spoke to my client. My client asked me to call his mother - she might be able to make bail for him.

I went back into the courtroom to get my cell phone. I whispered to the clerk that I was going to take my cell phone into the hallway, and that I'd be back in a minute.

"Take your time," he told me, "We just started with this witness."

I took my cell phone in the hallway, made a call or two, but couldn't get in touch with my client's mother. I was about to leave a message, when an officer came out of the courtroom and said, "We're going to take out the body that's on trial and do your case quick. Come on in."

(That's what they call people. "Bodies." Whatever it takes to dehumanize.)

I closed my phone, made sure it was off, and then followed the officer into the courtroom. Except that the courtroom door was locked. Another officer who was standing in the hallway with me said, "They have to lock this door when they're moving a body. They'll unlock it in a minute."

I stood there for about a minute and sure enough, I heard the click of the door unlocking, and I went in the courtroom.

The judge on the bench saw me entering the courtroom. She must have just seen that the officer had literally JUST unlocked the door. Which means they must have JUST taken "the body" out of the courtroom from the case on trial.

And she said to me, "Counselor? Are you here on this case? Well, come in. You're keeping my entire court staff waiting. Not to mention the entire jury for the case on trial. Have you even put your appearance on the record yet? Well, what are you waiting for? Put your appearance on the record!"

I can't tell you how deep the teeth marks on my tongue must have been, but it was killing me.

What could I have said? "Judge, did you want me break in the door? Because it was locked. And the reason I haven't given my appearance yet is because you haven't stopped shouting at me from the second the door was unlocked."

But, I guess part of being a grown-up and doing a grown-up job is that sometimes you have to suck it up, and get yelled at for nothing at all. Responding would've just made things worse for my client.

So, that's what I did. I sucked it up. But that doesn't mean I can't vent about it on my blog.

TV and Celebrity News

First, going back to last Tuesday - how funny was Sen. John McCain on The Daily Show? I've never voted Republican (I have voted Libertarian though), but I just find that guy so likeable.

Second, I've been saying for a loooong time - Rory, you are just too good for that rich no-good spoiled bad boy, Logan. C'mon, Rory, wake up and see the light!

Third, did you see Paris Hilton's car crash? (Video here.) You know, seriously, I've had clients who have been pulled over for DWI and tried the line, "Hey, my passenger is sober, just let him drive us home and we'll be on our way." And it hasn't worked. (Obviously, if they then became my client.) Maybe if they were heiresses. (But then they wouldn't be eligible for a public defender anyway, so nevermind.) Or, maybe more of my clients should try the "We love the police!" air kiss.

How about Ashlee Simpson's McDonald's video? (Video here.) I guess she really wanted her fries.

Oh, and I was just watching E! News Weekend, talk about making me feel old. They had a little segment where they showed "your favorite television stars" got their start. For example? You know Jennifer Love Hewitt as the Ghost Whisperer, but long ago she once played a girlfriend on Party of Five. You know Brian Austin Green as Freddy on his ABC show Freddy, but he was once on Beverly Hills 90210. And, finally, Neil Patrick Harris gets laughs on How I Met Your Mother, but he once did the unthinkable - he played an underage doctor on Doogie Howser, M.D.

Are there really people who don't remember Doogie? Are there really people who think this is some sort of revealing little segment? If so, I am completely old.

And, finally, a movie review. Chicken Little? Overrated and disappointing.

A Day In The Life

I've never done one of these "day in the life" thingees, but there's no time like the present...


Slept till about 10.

Grape Nuts for breakfast. (I remember once hearing a joke, something about how do they get the nuts off the little grapes, or how do you make a grape nuts, or something like that, but I forgot it. Sorry. I tried to google it, but the closest I found was "You mama's so stupid, she thought Grape Nuts was an STD." Like I said, sorry.)

Sat around, looked through a catalog, did a crossword puzzle, read a few pages of a book.

Around 11:30, I got dressed in comfy sweats and went to my favorite neighborhood eatery.

Tomato cheddar soup and a grilled chicken quesadilla. Spicy Mexican hot chocolate to go for dessert.

Went home, gathered up some things (hair brush, deodorant).

Around 1 p.m., Headed out. Stopped at the dollar store. Not the kind of store where everything costs $1, but a kind of misleading dollar store where things are just cheap. Resisted the urge to buy Dove face wash wipe thingees that had English and Arabic writing on them. (And had some kind of Saudi seal of quality on them.) Maybe I should've gotten them to keep in my office?

2 p.m., Got to the spa.

Sat in the relaxation room, waiting for my massage. Read Vogue, the interview with Gwenyth Paltrow and some little story on growing your hair long (what was the name of that fish oil stuff that grows your hair quick that they recommend?) Drank lemon water, and reflected on veterans. How they fought to preserve our right to be lazy Americans. And get spa treatments.

90 minute massage. The lady was kind of rough on me. I tried to tough it out for the sake of maximum tension removal, but I was feeling a little pain. Maybe I should've spoken up. But I didn't.

Good hot shower at the spa using all of the fancy spa brands that I'd never buy for myself.

Got dressed after applying ten different fancy spa lotions that I'd never buy for myself. (Yum, one smelled like pina colada.) (Used my own deodorant, which I brought with me. Can't use a community deodorant, that's gross.)

Good hair blow-drying at the spa, using all of the fancy salon tonics and whatnots on my hair that I'd never buy for myself. Actually, maybe I would buy them for myself if my hair came out noticeably better. But it didn't. So, I won't buy them for myself. (Used my own brush, which I brought with me. Can't use a shared brush either.)

Around 4:30, came home.

Reheated the rest of the spicy Mexican hot chocolate that I didn't finish in the afternoon.

Sat on my big comfy bed, all massaged and relaxed, with my hot chocolate and my laptop.

Played around with uploading my podcasts to my MP3 player, and trying to figure out which ones I already listened to so I could delete them. Maybe I should be deleting them as I go.

Read comments on my blog. Yes, anonymous, I did need some time off.

6 p.m., my summer intern's little friend called. (I don't mean anything by "little friend" other than the fact that he sounded young. I guess he goes to college with her, but he sounded like he didn't hit puberty yet.) He had been arrested, but ultimately was given a summons to return to court. Talked about what to expect on the court date. Meet your lawyer, see the judge, get a new court date, free to go. Be there on time.

But, what about the fact that the summons date is during my winter break, and I'll be flying home? Too bad, you need to be here. Either that, or go to the summons part well in advance of when you leave for winter break and see if they can reschedule you. You don't want a warrant for your arrest.

Finally, 6:30 p.m., sat down with a few files and did about two-and-a-half hours worth of work. No, actually, I worked two-and-a-half hours, but the work that I did probably would've have taken me six hours if I had done it in my office on a regular day - with phone calls, emails popping up, and a host of other distractions.

Wrote some motions, wrote some letters, found a witness. (The advantage of calling someone at 8:30 on a Friday night - they're not expecting it to be a lawyer calling.) Great witness, on the phone at least. Saw the entire incident and arrest, fairly articulate, could have a major impact on my case. The only drawback? He and my client were drinking together before the incident. But, I think that's ok. We'll work with it.

Around 9 p.m., packed it all away, satisfied that I was well prepared for the coming week.

Went out and picked up dinner. Chicken enchiladas, rice and beans. Yes, I love Mexican food. No, not from the same place.

Around 10 p.m., came home, ate dinner. Watched Law & Order (the baby snatching episode from the day before) and CSI (the big shoot-out episode from the day before) on my Tivo. Wondered WTF is up with Nick Stokes' mustache? It's killing me! Hello, '70s porn star. Aaaah! Make it stop.

Throughout the episode I kept waiting for some major joke tie-in. In my mind, he could only have that moustache if it was somehow necessary for the plot. But, no. The most we got was Warrick saying something like, "Check this out, moustache boy," when he found something interesting under the microscope.

Please, someone, make him shave it!

Then, finally, around 11:30, I fell asleep.

Aaaah, a day in the life of a public defender. Massages and Mexican food. Ain't veterans day a wonderful thing?

Seriously, thank a veteran.

Mistrial Thong

I had to share...

I thought this said "mistrial thong."

Why the heck would anyone want that? I mean, sure, a mistrial is better than a conviction, but what about an "acquittal thong?"

I should totally market that...

(Link is completely work safe, I promise!)

The Tell Tale Heart

If you committed a crime and got away with it, what would it take for you to turn yourself in?

Recently I had my first case where my client's crime only came to light when he had a change in heart and confessed. In his case, it's unlikely that anyone would have even known that a crime was committed, much less that he was the guilty party, if he hadn't decided to come clean.

I surveyed other lawyers in my office and found only one who had seen such a case. She told me that many years ago, she had gotten a phone call from a man. The man had gotten her name because she had represented his brother previously, and he felt he needed to speak to a lawyer. He had been involved in a hit and run accident years earlier. He had essentially gotten away with it. Apparently, no one got his license plate and he waited months, eventually years, for the police to come knocking on his door. He finally decided that he couldn't live with the guilt any longer.

The lawyer did some research and found that no one had died in the accident, and, therefore, the statute of limitations had run. Still, she advised her client against turning himself in, but the client persisted and, ultimately they went to the police department together.

The police took his statement, released him, did some research, and ultimately contacted him and let him know that no charges would be brought because of the statute of limitations.

The man asked, then, if he could have the contact information for the victim so that he could try to make some reparations. Ultimately, according to the lawyer, they contacted the family, but the family wasn't interested in anything more than an apology.

None of the other attorneys that I spoke to, though, have had similar stories. So, it seems as though it's rather rare that someone who gets away with a crime later turns themselves in. Or, perhaps it's rare that these cases are prosecuted.

In my case, my client got away with stealing from someone for quite a while. They never noticed, but he eventually stopped. A few months later, he decided to confess and offered to pay back the money he had taken. Unfortunately for him, the statute of limitations hadn't run and the victim decided to contact the police.

My client was very interesting in that he was so resigned to whatever punishment was coming his way. It wasn't a large sum of money, it was only charged as a misdemeanor, he didn't have any criminal record, so I was certain that I could get him a decent plea bargain. But my client kept telling me that he was willing to go to prison, if that's what he had to do. (It didn't come to that.)

Which leads me to a few questions...

First, for the other criminal defense practitioners, are these cases as uncommon as they appear to be? How many cases like this have you seen? Is there any fear of false confessions? If a person came to you and wanted to turn himself in, would you ask for corroborating evidence? What advice would you give to someone who wanted to turn themself in?

Second, to everyone, do you think that someone should be given preferential treatment because they confessed their crime? Should they be offered a better plea bargain because they saved the state the time and expense of investigating the crime? (Although, in the former case, of the hit and run, it appears that the police did investigate but did not have enough information to solve the case.) But what about in the latter case, where even the victim was unknowing and may have remained unknowing if my client hadn't confessed?

Religious Ranting

I've got a rant brewing inside me. It started to peek out in the comments to two of my recent posts (here and here). At this point, I think I just need to put it out there. So, here it goes.

Where should I start? I was raised Christian. Protestant. When I was young, my family and I went to church pretty regularly. We didn't talk about God or religion a lot in my house, but my parents were involved in a bit of charity, particularly through community work. We didn't pray before dinner, except on Thanksgiving or Christmas.

By the time I was in high school, my family became Christmas-and-Easter churchgoers. I went to church a few times on campus in college, but just never really got into the habit.

In my current town, I'm a member of a church. I, once again, go to Church regularly. I volunteer, I do some community work, and I feel pretty strongly, as I've written here previously, that the work that I do has a strong religious component.

But I've always just been very turned off by what I feel are "preachy" Christians. Sure, you've found happiness in your Christianity, and you want to share that. But I feel like there's a time and a place. And, I know, I can see the obvious argument against that. That Jesus didn't just spread the word when the time was right, but He did it all the time. And maybe the fact that I'm uncomfortable with it somehow makes me less of a good Christian.

But, I feel like some people spend too much time talking about what good Christians they are, and not enough time being good Christians. And I feel that actions speak louder than words.

Last week, I was waiting in the doctor's office waiting room. A woman came in, went up to the desk to check in for her appointment, and I noticed that she was up there for a long time, talking to the receptionist. She then went and started talking to a woman in the waiting room. I assumed that the woman she was talking to was a friend that was waiting with her. I could overhear parts of her conversation.

"Ever since I found God in my life..."
"The Lord is my Shepard..."
"I am a woman of God..."

It was none of my business, so I tried not to pay attention. But she was loud. She was talking about how she had moved to a new neighborhood last year. And before she even moved in, she had printed up flyers. "To tell them about me, about my kids, about my miracle of how I found God..." She invited everyone in the neighborhood, through these fliers, to a meeting at her house because she wanted to organize a neighborhood watch group. "I wanted them to know what my car looks like, and know what their cars look like, so if Satan comes to take our children, we're on the lookout." (Wow, Satan drives a car now?) To her surprise, no one from the neighborhood showed up at her meeting. "I guess they couldn't face a woman of God, knowing that they're all sinners." Hmmm, gee that's it. I couldn't help but think, "Or maybe they already had a neighborhood watch group. How about that?" But, like I said, none of my business. I just wanted to read my crappy magazine from two years ago.

She then got up, though, and went to an empty chair near two other women on the other side of the waiting room. And I could hear her talking again. I started to pay more attention, because I realized she wasn't with any of these people, she was just evangelizing to them.

I could hear her telling them this story. Her kids, apparently, had either called the police on her or went to court about her. (Or both.) "I never beat my kids," she said. "Sure, I spanked them, when they needed to be spanked, but I never beat them." I don't know much about family court, but her children must have gone to court and gotten a restraining order and permission to live with their aunt.

"My sister! My sister! And she's a thief. She used to steal from me all the time. And she's not even a Christian!" So, the police had come to her house, and served her with the papers. She started telling them about the word of God, and one of the police officers said something along the lines of, "Yes, we were warned you were a lunatic."

And, now the woman was shouting in the waiting room. "I told him, you can call me crazy. You can call me a Jesus freak. But you cannot ever ever, I mean ever, call me a lunatic. Because that is what they called My Lord. And I'm not even half as good as Jesus Christ to fill his sandals!"

All I could think was "WTF? When did they call Him a lunatic? And, even if it's in your Bible, isn't that just a translation, when maybe a translation of 'crazy' could've been just as appropriate?"

Well, finally, someone in the little reception window looked out to see what was going on, and I heard her say, "Ethel, she's at it again, you have to go get her."

And, with that, they called the lunatic's name to bring her into the doctor's office.

And as she walked in, she turned around to the entire waiting room and said, "There's too much sin here on earth. You've all invited Satan into your hearts. And that's why you're sick and in the doctor's office."

Me? I was just there for a physical. But I think we can all guess who the sick one is.

That very night, I happened to catch this crazy episode of Trading Spouses. One of the women was a Christian (the woman you see screaming in the commercials), and the other was more... spiritual. (She classified herself as a Christian, but she also believes in astrology, hypnotism, etc.) The Christian woman was very upset to be in a "darksided" home.

But what upset me more was the way that the Christian woman's friends treated the hypnotist lady. They're in Louisiana, and the hypnotist lady invites all of the Christian lady's friends over for a dinner. She hopes that it will be good for her to get more insight into the family she's staying with, and ways to connect with the kids.

One of the women, as soon as she walked in, said "Are you a Christian?" The hypnotist answered, "Yes." The woman asked, "Well, do you believe in (finger quotes) 'God' or do you believe in (finger quotes) 'a higher power'?" The hypnotist lady answered, "I believe in God." "Well, when was the last time you went to Church?"

The hypnotist explained that she was raised Catholic, and that she's now a member of a Unitarian congregation. "Well, what do they believe?" the Christian friend asked.

"We believe that all people are created equal..." before she could even finish, the woman interrupted, "What? Like the terrorists and the pedophiles?"

I just think this is so hypocritical. First of all, this woman is welcoming you into "her" home. (No, it's not really her home, but it is for the time being.) And before you even get in the doorway, you're interrogating her, interrupting her, and judging her? To me, that's not Christian. The hypnotist woman is a better Christian, because she's the one who is taking the time to get to know other people, and to try to understand them and connect to them.

Then, finally, on that same night, was this episode of Amazing Race, which, through the miracle of Tivo, I didn't watch until the next night.

This season, there's a family called The Weavers (also known as "the Florida family"). They make for the best television, and I think that all of the dumb American quotes that I've featured here have been from them.

And, as you can see from the comments, they're rude to other teams, make fun of other teams (not that I wouldn't), and then say, "Why doesn't anyone like us? We're good Christians!"

Being a good Christian isn't something you just say, it's something you do. In fact, I think that the more you have to say it, probably the less you're actually doing it.

And, as my father says, "Be nice, those people chose your President." I guess he's right. I guess there's some majority in this country of people who are more comfortable saying "I'm a Christian" and telling others how to live a Christian life, then they are just living a Christian life - accepting others, and practicing peace.

And they chose one for President too. He can sure talk about Christianity, all the while standing by while people get killed in war and by the death penalty, obviously ignoring the commandment, "Thou shall not kill." But, maybe he figures if he gets someone else to do it for him, it doesn't count?

So, that's all for my rant. I'm annoyed at these people. I think they give a bad name to Christians everywhere.

Trading Spouses

By the way, did you see the Trading Spouses with that crazy screaming lady?

It turned out to be part 1 of 2. I've got to set the Tivo now for the second half so I don't miss it.

But how crazy is that woman???

Photo Search Meme

I really liked this Meme from Arbitrary & Capricious:

Go to Google Image Search and type in the city and state/province of the town where you grew up, no quotation marks. Then select the picture you like best from the first page of results and post it on your blog. Here's mine:

Next do the same with the town where you currently reside. My result:

Next your name, first and last, but no quotes. My result:

Next your grandmother's name. My result:

Next your favorite food. My result:

Next your favorite drink. My result:

Next your favorite smell. My result:

Lastly, your favorite song. My result:

Amazing Race Zen

So, yes, it's true, I completely forgot to give you last week's Amazing Race Moment of Zen.

But I think I can make up for it this week.

So, let's see... what should it be?

"I'm sick of doing things I can't do!"
Nah, I think it was this week's title. Too obvious.

"Right-o or left-o?"
Nah, the "El Spanish-o" was so overdone by Charla and Mirna, that I can only hope that it was tongue-in-cheek.

Oh, here's a good one... (Paraphrased, because I already deleted the tivo-ed episode.)
"We're good Christians. We won't sink to their level."
(One breath later)
"Oh, let's just make fun of everyone. Gee, I hope those boobs didn't cost you too much!"

Nope, not the best. In fact, I don't think the best A.R. line this week came from a contestant. It came from me.

The Weavers (looking at the photo of the Paolos): "They're in front of a garbage truck! What losers. They're in front of a garbage truck!"
Me: "Still better than being in front of a racecar, though, isn't it?"

Ha! I crack me up. With my heartlessness.

Drop the Arm & Hammer!

Last night, after work, instead of going home and crawling into my warm and comfy bed, I went to the jail to see one of my clients.

And thank god I did.

Because, as it turns out, I didn't know a single fucking thing about criminal law until I met with him.

I was clueless.

You've heard of a jailhouse lawyer? Well, apparently one week in jail has made this guy some kind of jailhouse law professor.

Yes, that's right.

And I learned such important tidbits as this one:

"Possession with intent to sell? I can beat that! I can beat that! I can beat that! I can beat that! You don't understand, I can beat that."

"Why don't you tell me how you think you can beat that?"

"Well, it was cut. I cut it. I cut it. I cut it. I cut it. I cut it. (Obviously, he has a problem with repeating himself. And spitting when he talks, which is hard to portray to you through a blog.) Therefore, they cannot prove purity. And it is an imperative element that they prove purity."

"What kind of purity do you think they have to prove?"

(See, I'm using the reverse-socratic method. He's the law professor, but I'm asking the questions. Gee, I'm glad I spent my evening on this, instead of eating dinner. )

"Obviously, they have to prove 100%. 100%. 100%. 100%. The statute doesn't call it 'Possession of cocaine and baking soda,' the statute is called 'Possession of cocaine.' That means nothing more. That means nothing more. That means nothing more. If I was charged with intent to distribute cocaine and baking soda, then maybe they'd get me."

It's funny, because most of my clients attack the "intent to distribute" part of the statute.

"But, do you think that maybe the fact that it's cut with baking soda only goes to show the intent to distribute? People don't cut their own cocaine that they're keeping for personal use."

"You don't know the law. You don't know the law. You don't know the law. You haven't read the law. I have. I have. I have. It's not a crime to have baking soda."