Just a Little Pet Peeve

It really bugs me when my clients remind me that their case is "just a misdemeanor."

Wait! What? I thought I was assigned to the Capital Punishment bureau! A misdemeanor? How did this pesky misdemeanor sneak in here?

This reminder is usually immediately followed by the reminder that the case should be dismissed. As in, "It's just a misdemeanor, why don't they just drop it?" Oh, yes, the case is just punishable by up to a year in jail, that's synonymous with dismissal. Gee, why don't I just go tell the judge right now.

"Judge, excuse me, my client just pointed out to me that this case is just a misdemeanor. So, um... no problem, it's just dismissed, right?"

And, to be honest, I sometimes use the words "just a misdemeanor." But I have cases that are felonies! To me, your case can be "just a misdemeanor." But you shouldn't have so many open felony cases, that your pending misdemeanor case can't be of the utmost importance to you.

Because, the truth is, the prosecutor assigned to your case most likely handles only misdemeanors. So, to him, your misdemeanor is one of the most important cases he has. It's like a murder case to a prosecutor who only handles murder cases. And, that prosecutor has to go to trial and win a few misdemeanors before he ever gets to move on to the bigger cases. So, you'd better believe he's not going to just dismiss your case.

And you face up to a year in jail. So unless you can honestly say the words "just a year," then you can just stop saying the words, "just a misdemeanor."

Pppfffft.

My cousin has a son and when he was maybe 2 or 3 years old, she took him to the neighborhood barber for his very first haircut. The barber, as everyone in the neighborhood knows, stutters. All of the sudden, after his haircut, my cousin's son, who was just mastering the little world of talking immediately picked up this stutter.

Last week, I had a client in court. I forget exactly what the client was accused of right now, but it was something kind of creepy. (And as much as I can defend clients accused of just about anything, I do have a harder time relating to some of the creepy ones.)

The client had this weird habit. It was like he sort of squeezed air between his teeth and his lips to make like a farting noise. He did it pretty much constantly. Even when we were in front of the judge. I assume it was some sort of tick or nervous habit.

I kept thinking, "There is no way we could go with a misidentification defense. The jury would hear my client make that farting noise all through the trial, and then they'd hear some kid he's accused of touching say, 'I know he's the guy. And he kept making this farting noise.'"

Eventually my client took a plea. And even as he was taking the plea, he was making this farting noise. I was afraid the judge was going to take it as a sign of disrespect and penalize my client.

When I returned to the office, I was telling the story and imitating my client's fart-noise-habit for some of my colleagues.

That was a few days ago. And now I've caught myself doing it a few times by accident. It's like my mother always warned me, my face has stuck like that.

My cousin spent weeks researching stuttering and speech therapists. Then, one day, maybe a month or two after the haircut, we all spent the day together and at the end of the day someone said, "I don't think little Davey has stuttered once all day." And, just like that, the stutter was gone.

Here's hoping I get over the accidental-mouth-farting noise much quicker.

Snake on a Plane

I think the best cartoon I saw yesterday (I wish I could find it, but I can't) was of John Karr, the JonBenet Ramsey "suspect" (there's a false confession if I've ever heard one), sitting on a plane. The caption? "Snake on a Plane."

Genius.

Really, these Snakes on a Plane jokes will never get old.

Oh, and by the way, when you fly first class with the police who are questioning you, it's going to be that much harder to say your statements were coerced.

Technical Question

I know there has to be at least a few of you out there who can help me figure this out...

Let's say I have a long MP3 on my iPod. For example, maybe an hour-long interview with a band, during which they also play a few songs, live and acoustic and whatnot.

I'd like to keep just the songs on my iPod, and I don't think I can get them anywhere else. (I don't think they're available on CD or individually from iTunes, etc.) But I wouldn't want to listen through the hour-long interview (or fast forward through the interview portions) everytime I feel like listening to these songs.

So, is there a way that I can cut the songs out of the long MP3 and save them individually? Is there some kind of free editing software that isn't too hard to use? Is there any even easier way that I'm not thinking of?

Thanks!

Call Me... Spinderella. Yeah, That's It.

Teahouseblossom has her own problems with Starbucks, but the thing that really bothers me is when they ask for my name.

Um, I don't even know you. And I certainly don't think we've worked our way up to shouting-out-each-others'-names status. Am I the only one who feels a little uncomfortable with this? Maybe it's the anonymous-online-persona thing, but I feel like my real name is... personal. I know I put it on the record in the courtroom ten times a day. I know I use it to introduce myself to total strangers who have been accused of committing crimes. But, I still don't want it shouted out in a crowded coffee shop.

Lately I've been coming up with fake names. It started out with me just using other nice female names. (When I was a kid, I thought the most fun part of playing "house" was coming up with my new name.) I wondered when they would confront me, "Hey, didn't you come in here yesterday morning, order the same thing, and give a different name?" But they never did.

Then, I decided it would be funny to give them the name that is on their own name tag. But it seemed like they never really noticed. None of them had such a unique name that they'd stop and look up at me and say, "Wow, I never thought I'd meet another woman named 'Orangina-tangerina,' what are the chances?"

So, now I've just been getting crazier and crazier with my name selections. I particularly like to use celebrity names. And the baristas will shout at "Cafe Mocha for Snoop Dogg" without ever batting an eye.

It reminds me a little bit, though, of my clients choosing their aliases. Sometimes I'm just looking around the Starbucks, stumped for a name, and end up with something like, "Um... Cash Register? Uh, yeah, Cash. That's it, Cash."

And you wonder how my clients end up with names like "Desk Chair Jones?"

Or, sometimes, if the drink takes particularly long to make, I end up falling into another pitfall that my clients also fall into... Forgetting my alias.

Five minutes later, I'm still standing at the counter when I finally mention, "Um, I'm waiting on a Half-Caf Soy Latte?"

"What's the name?"

"Uh..."

"Here's one for Beyonce. Is that you?"

"Uh... um... yeah, I'll take it."

But I suppose that's better than sitting in a jail pen all day, waiting for a lawyer, and not realizing my lawyer has been calling out the name that I made up hours earlier and have completely forgotten.

"Sorry, Judge, but Curtains Floor Smith isn't back there."

Never Have Children

The following is an actual conversation that I actually overheard while shopping for a dress on Saturday evening.

The woman next to me answers her cell phone and says:

Hello?

I'm shopping. Why?

Yes, Stephen, of course I love you. Is everything okay?

Are you alright?

(long silence)

No. Absolutely not.

No, you are absolutely not having a girl sleep over our house.

What does her mother say about this? I'm sure her mother doesn't want her sleeping at a boy's house.

No, Stephen, absolutely not. I will not lie to that girl's mother.

Stephen, tell me the truth... have you been lying to me when you tell me where you've been sleeping. Tell me the truth.

(By this point, I was riveted. This was better than any soap opera, and it was unfolding before me right in front of me in the formal wear section!)

Stephen! I cannot believe you! How could you lie to me like this?

Wait a minute. Now you're talking about you, and him, and those two girls? What is that, your girlfriend and his girlfriend?

No, I don't care if you sleep in the living room!

Stephen, do you really think I'm trying to be cool for a bunch of teenagers?

Me? I'm sleeping in bed with my husband.

You can try asking your step-father, but he was in a bad mood when I left. That's why I went shopping in the first place.

No! No, don't even call him! Stephen, you cannot stay at your father's! Absolutely Not!

Stephen? Stephen? Hello, Stephen?

Burn Out

Burnout is something that is absolutely never spoken about it my office.

It's something I hadn't put much thought into, but I started to when I read Indefensible. It made me wonder how I'll know when I'm really burnt out, and what I'll do when I am.

Someone in my office said to me the other day, "Am I going to be stuck here? Am I going to be a lifer?" My office really breaks down into two groups of people... the new guys and the lifers. There are lots of brand new baby attorneys (in their first three to five years of practice), and a big bunch of lifers who have been in the office ten, fifteen, twenty years. And there are just a few in-betweeners. I think some of them are well on their way to being lifers, and have every intention of becoming just that, and others seem like they maybe they just haven't taken the initiative to leave yet, or they're not sure yet what they want to do next. All I know is that I don't want to be "stuck" anywhere. If I'm still at the PD's office in ten years, I want it to be because I still love it.

So, back to burn out. I wonder if I'll know it when I see it. Some mornings, I walk into the courthouse, say hello to the same court officer who greets me every morning, and think to myself, "Oh my god, am I back here again?" Some mornings it feels like Groundhogs Day. Other days I feel like there is so much left to accomplish, and I think the factor that makes trial work a constant challenge - the fact that it can just never be completely mastered - has me so hooked.

But it really gets to me: The day to day, going through the motions, waiting for that next trial, waiting for something, anything, to happen. Maybe you could call it a baby burnout. Maybe I just need a vacation. Or a hobby. Or some type of distraction. Maybe I just need to be on trial again. I'm not sure.

I definitely started at the PD's office thinking that I would be a lifer. Now I feel sure that I'm going to want to do something else in the not-too-distant future. But I'm not so sure what that is. Maybe it'll be something that I can do while still at the PD's office, or something I can do for a set period of time and then come back. Or maybe I'll get out of it entirely. I have no idea. But I'm thinking about it.

I recently met someone who is in seminary. I thought about it for about two seconds and decided, "That's it. That's what I want to do, I want to go to seminary." Think about it - being a Pastor is a lot like being a Public Defender. You talk to people, you counsel them, you visit them in prison. Maybe I could even be a prison chaplin. Then I thought about it for another two minutes and decided, no, seminary is probably not the thing for me. But I know that I'm ready for something. Some kind of new challenge, some kind of new exercise for my brain.

One of the refreshing things about reading Indefensible was hearing (or, reading) another public defender's take on burn out. Among the PDs I work with, the term is taboo, I'm sure that I've never heard it spoken aloud. Even when people leave, no one ever says they're burnt out. Maybe that's a good thing - maybe it would be like freshman psychology class hypochondria, where you hear about a symptom and decide that you must have it. Maybe if one person declared himself burnt out, we'd all stop to evaluate ourselves and say, "Oh God, maybe I am too." Maybe that's what happened when I read Indefensible.

But, either way, it kind of has me thinking about my next life, and what I might like to do. Or, at the very least, where I can go for vacation.

Near, Far, Wherever You Are

Tonight is a beautifully mild night. For the first time in a long time, I came home, turned off the air conditioner, and opened all of the windows in my apartment.

One of the strange facts of city life is that many of the cars that drive that past my windows have music blasting. There's also a traffic light in front of my apartment, which means that I get a minute-long sample of each song. This is how I sometimes learn about the newest rap, hip-hop and reggaeton songs. And how I learn all the words.

So, you can imagine my surprise tonight when I was eating dinner near my window and when a car stop at the light, I heard a very loud sample of Celine Dion's "My Heart Will Go On."

All I could think was, "Oh, she is totally begging to be carjacked."

OK Go - Here It Goes Again


I have a new favorite music video. It's so amazing that I actually had to sign up for YouTube and figure out how to put a video on my blog so I that could make sure everyone saw it.

I cannot get over how incredibly awesome this video is. I'm not terribly uncoordinated, but I think it'd be fair to call me only somewhat coordinated. And I've still skinned my knees falling off the treadmill a few times. So, this choreography just amazes me.

This rocks!

Junk Brothers

About a year ago, I found this little bench stool thing in the trash in front of a neighbors' house. It was a little taller than a footstool, and the top opens for a little storage space. Perfect for an extra seat in a small apartment. I checked it out, found it was a solid wood, and brought it home to my mother. My mother repaired the wood, painted it, redid the leather top, and now it looks fantastic in my living room.

Which is why I love this new TV show that my mother has turned me onto... Junk Brothers!

For those who are unfamiliar, here's the concept. Two guys (the "junk brothers") set out in their pick-up truck at the beginning of the episode, under the cover of darkness, and find a piece of furniture or two that has been left out in the trash. They bring it back to their studio/garage/workshop and turn it into something awesome. Then, they return to the house that they took it from, leave the renovated item on the front lawn, ring the doorbell and run. They see only a little of the reaction from their truck on the street.

I really like the idea of thinking about what you can do with a piece of trash. The Junk Brothers tend to redo the found furniture into very different items, not just fix it up or give it a fresh coat of paint.

For example, in the first episode I saw, they turned a small dresser into a baby-changing table and an old entertainment center into a bar. Both came out very different from what they originally found, and both ended up being pretty cool.

My only complaint about the show is that they don't get any input from the person they take the trash from. So, for example, when they found the dresser, they commented that there must have been a baby shower because there were other baby type items (and baby-themed balloons) in the garbage. And that's their inspiration for turning it into a changing table, something the new parents could presumably use.

I understand that they're trying to have an element of surprise, but I think it might be better if they got some input from the family. For instance, they decorated the baby changing table with a Noah's Ark theme. Which was cute. But maybe there would have been something else to match the baby's room. Maybe these people aren't even having a baby, maybe they were hosting a shower for someone else. Heck, for all they knew, maybe they put all that baby stuff in the garbage because they just lost a baby. Yes, it's a morbid thought, but think about how insensitive the show would be if it was true. Don't worry, the woman who came out of the house to get the changing table was noticably pregnant.

In another episode, they found a desk, and they turned it into a video game console, complete with flat screen TV and built-in steering wheel. It was a very nice idea, but what if the family didn't have a teenage kid? (They did, a boy came out when they rang the bell. Which leads me to think that they scout these things out.)

I just think that they put a lot of fun little details into their refurnishings, and it would be cooler if they could show you how they tailor it to fit the owner. And it would be a shame if the owner couldn't take advantage of it.

I also think it'd be cool if they could see more of the families reactions afterward or if they could explain to the family how they came up with the concept, or how they made the changes.

I know I'm completely overthinking it. But these are just small points on an otherwise cool show. I predict that it will be as addictive as Trading Spaces was, before Trading Spaces was completely overdone. Junk Brothers is a good show, check it out and let me know what you think.