My client's girlfriend cornered me as I walked out of the courtroom the other day.
"I want to talk to you, I'm a witness that he didn't resist arrest," she told me.
"Sure, let's see if we can find a quiet spot where we can talk for a few minutes," I said, walking with her towards a quiet(er) hallway in the courthouse.
"No, you're not blowing me off in a few seconds," she said, "I want to come to your office."
"Um, sure. I can't go to my office right now, but we can set up a time."
As I usually do, I let her choose her appointment time. I do this because clients and witnesses so rarely show up for their appointments, I figure that maybe if they choose their own appointment they'll be more likely to make it.
She chose 5:30 p.m. yesterday.
"I don't mind staying to 5:30 to meet with you. But I have plans that night. You can't show up an hour late and expect me to still be there. If you're running late or you can't make it, you need to let me know," I said, handing her my card.
She assured me that, no, no, she would definitely be there, she really needed to speak to me.
5:35 yesterday, I hadn't heard anything, so I decided to call her cell phone. It was the most annoying conversation I've ever had. And I've had a lot of annoying conversations.
"Miss Witness, this is Blonde Justice. Are you on your way?"
"No. I'm not coming. But at the same time, I don't think I should have to come all the way there just to speak to you."
She kept saying "but at the same time" and saying the same thing again.
"I agree. We could have spoken in the courthouse. We could have spoken on the phone. You said you wanted to come to my office."
"I did want to come. But at the same time, I want you to listen to my whole story in person, and not just in the hallway."
"Well, that's fine. So, we made an appointment for you to come to my office. You chose today. Are you on your way?"
"No, I'm not on my way. But at the same time, I'm not going to come all the way to your office just to speak to you."
"Well, that's fine. You don't have to."
"I'm a grown woman. I'm 22 years old. But at the same time, you can't tell me that I have to be somewhere and then I just have to be there."
"No, I sure can't. But, as a grown up, you can handle making your own appointments and keeping them. I gave you my card and told you to call me if you couldn't make it."
"I didn't call you. But at the same time, that appointment is already cancelled."
"Yeah. If I'm supposed to be there and I'm not there, but, at the same time, I'm not coming, that appointment is already cancelled. You're the one calling me to cancel it now."
"Well, I'm not cancelling, I'm just calling to see if you're on your way."
This same exchange went on, around and around, for quite a while, and all the while I was thinking how I would never be able to use her as a witness anyway - can you imagine this on direct examination? I decided I had to try a different approach.
"Alright," I said, "why don't you just tell me what you saw when Mr. Client was arrested?"
"YOU CALL YOURSELF A LAWYER? YOU CALL YOURSELF A LAWYER? YOU DON'T EVEN KNOW THE CONSTITUTION! YOU CALL YOURSELF A LAWYER? YOU'RE VIOLATING MY FREEDOM OF SPEECH! I GOT FREEDOM OF SPEECH! THAT MEANS I CAN TALK TO YOU AT YOUR OFFICE IF I WANT, I DON'T HAVE TO TALK TO YOU ON THE PHONE! I WANT TO COME TO YOUR OFFICE! AND YOU HAVE TO BE THERE! YOU'RE VIOLATING MY FREEDOM OF SPEECH! YOU DON'T KNOW THE CONSTITUTUION! YOU'RE GOING TO LOSE YOUR LAW LICENSE!"
And with that, she hung up.
Call me crazy, but I have a feeling that's not what the First Amendment says.