Can't Judge A Magazine By Its Title

This has nothing to do with either looking back at my current career or looking forward to being a public defender (again). It's just something funny.

Over at Above the Law , there is a post about an upcoming legal magazine for women. They're looking for the perfect name and are accepting votes. (Choose from such great names as the super serious "Women in Litigation," or the super silly "Trial Mama.")

Anyway, it reminded me of a funny story...

It was the summer I took the bar exam. So, that tells you where my mind was. I hit the gym at the law school, taking advantage of my last weeks as a student. The school gym didn't have TVs by the cardio machines, so I decided to grab a magazine off the magazine rack.

And they had this magazine there, the title of which made me think, "Wow, perfect! A magazine for lawyers!"

The title? Why, The Advocate, of course.

It must speak volumes of my little lefty liberal world and my bar-fried brain that it took me until halfway through the magazine before I realized, "Hey, this magazine doesn't really seem to be about lawyers at all..."

Looking Back, Looking Forward

Two weeks from now, I will once again have my dream job. Public defender.

I've got a lot going on in the next two weeks, including a possible jury trial, but I also have a few posts in my head I want to write, a kind of self-debriefing as I move on.

Thanks for going along on this ride with me.


My former BFF, who you previously read about here and here, and who is now on facebook...

Has updated her photo to be a wedding photo!

And she added one of my friends as her friend, and wrote on our mutual friend's wall about where she's living and what her new husband does. (From the little thumbnail photo I can tell you it is not the reader!)

Mystery solved. And now I think I've lost interest. Except that I also wanted to tell you...

Her husband is not attractive. At all.

Karma, that's all I have to say.

Oh, wait... just one more thing. Does she even believe in marriage? Or, will it be no big deal if her husband cheats on her? Or if she cheats on him?

Ok, now I'm done.

More Questions Than Answers

Please allow me to kick the horse that may already be dead and follow up on one comment to More On Defending The Guilty...

Gidge, a (former?) prosecutor, comments:
I'd rather have the hypothetical "how could I get out of..." questions than someone make assumptions why I'm in my job. What kind of follow-up questions would defense attorneys prefer?

That reminds me of a funny story. I guess it was last summer, I was at an event where I was pretty much the only female in a large group of men, many of whom were drunk.

At some point the topic of me being a criminal defense lawyer arises.

To which, one of the guys asks, "Ok, so, let's say I didn't want to get arrested, but I wanted to start a business... you know, like, an "escort service"... but a "legit" one, you know? You know? Like totally "legit." Right...?" Complete with air finger quotes around the word "legit."

I guess the best follow-up questions are, "Wow, I bet you see a lot of interesting things..." That leaves the door open for me to either say, "Yeah, I do, thanks," quickly closing that door, or to say, "Yeah, recently, I had a case..."

I guess the other awkward follow-up that I get is confusion over what I do. Like, my doctor. Who, every appointment, asks me, "What kind of lawyer are you?" I think the first time I just said, "criminal defense." Every time since then, I've tried to explain what I do with a little more detail. Most recently, I think I said something like, "Let's say you got arrested. You'd want a lawyer who would help you tell your side of the story and try to help you avoid going to jail. That's my job." But, no matter how much I break it down, she always gives the same response, "Yeah, that's good, put them all in jail! Right? Right?"

Let's hope she pays more attention to my symptoms than she does to my career choice.

Anyway, back to the question: What kind of follow-up questions would defense attorneys prefer?

But, Everyone Likes Cake, Don't They?

Stop me if I told you this one before. It happened a while ago, but I don't think I ever wrote about it.

It was the first round of voir dire (jury selection). The courtroom is packed with almost one hundred prospective jurors, filling the audience. We start by addressing the first twelve as a panel. The prosecutor gets to go first.

I'm listening, but it's the same old stuff from every case. But then he's making some long, dumb analogy about reasonable doubt being like a recipe. Maybe you have some ingredients of the recipe, but you don't have all of the ingredients... could it still come out as the intended finished product?

I knew where he was going with this. The prosecutor didn't have a key piece of evidence. The police had given the allegedly stolen property back to the victim immediately upon my client's arrest. He's trying to make sure the jury is going to be alright with never getting to see that key piece of evidence.

My mind starts to wander just a little bit. I started to think that maybe when it was my turn, I would get up and follow up on his analogy. Maybe I would ask, "Ok, if you're asked to make a salad for a dinner party, and then realize that you don't have any lettuce, can you just toss the salad dressing in a bowl and call it 'close enough?' Can you hope that your dinner party guests will just smell the salad dressing and jump to the conclusion that you've made a nice salad for them, without you ever having to show it to them...?"

But luckily, something pulled my attention back to the courtroom. Just in time to hear the prosecutor address Juror Number Five, the lone obese man on the panel, by saying, "Mr. Smith, you like cake, right?"

Poor Mr. Smith turned bright red. One woman gasped out loud. The entire room gave the prosecutor dirty looks. To his credit, he kept on talking, as if maybe he didn't even get his faux pas. But there weren't enough peremptories in the world.

And there was no way I was touching that analogy with a ten foot pole.

The lesson to learn here is: Stick with salad, it's safer. That's the easy lesson.

I guess the slightly more complicated lesson is, look at someone and try to be sensitive to what their insecurities might be. But that takes a little more empathy than most young prosecutors have.

(Later, I overheard the prosecutor talking to a court officer. I think the court officer was trying to explain to the prosecutor where he went wrong. To which, the prosecutor, still clueless, responded, "But, everyone likes cake, don't they?")

Facebook Weirdness

So, I joined facebook a few months ago. It was all well and good until...

In the past few days, I've run into a few things on facebook that just make me feel... weird. There's no other word for it.

First, someone I didn't know at all added me as a friend. I checked her profile, and I went to high school with her. Except I don't remember her at all. Even after I've seen her picture. Maybe if she listed her maiden name I'd remember... but I've got nothing. I accepted her friend request because she's "friends" with a few of my other high school friends, so she's not a spammer or anything, but I have no memory of her whatsoever.

Weird, right, how some people from high school are so memorable, and others are so forgettable? It made me wonder if I was memorable or forgettable. Quite a few of my high school friends have added me as "friends," despite the fact that I haven't seen or spoken to any of them in about a decade, so I think that might mean I'm at least somewhat memorable.

Ok, so that was the first weird thing. Just a little bit weird.

Then, second. There was this girl that I was somewhat friendly with in high school. We certainly weren't close friends. And I've never spoken a word to her since graduation. But I liked her a lot in high school. I guess I would say she was almost the opposite of the first girl I mentioned - she was extremely memorable. She was incredibly outgoing, kind of the star of every situation. Strangely, I remember that towards the end of high school, there were some rumors that she was involved with some serious drugs (my high school was kind of a pot and beer atmosphere, at worst), and eventually I think I heard that she had dropped out of college. So I kind of never knew what became of her. It seemed like a shame, she had a ton of potential.

Anyway, I noticed her on facebook a few months ago when I joined. I could see her little mini picture without adding her as a friend, and she looked good and healthy and had some crazy outgoing (but typical for her, as I remembered her) picture. But I didn't add her as a friend because I kind of thought that she might not remember me - like I said, we weren't tight, and maybe I only remembered her because she was so outgoing, but maybe she wouldn't remember me.

So the weird thing that happened was that she added me as a friend on facebook, and, first, she looks COMPLETELY different, even from her picture a few months ago. There's no way I would have recognized her. And, second, she's a singer under a different name with some moderate success. And there was a link to a few of her songs, and she sounds really good. I would have never known. I always thought she had the ability to do anything, I could have totally seen her growing up to be an actress or something, but I didn't know anything about her as a singer.

But it got me thinking about how you don't really know what people are going to be when they "grow up." And how if I had gone to one of the bars she sings at with her band, I would have ever known that she was the girl that I went to high school with.

Finally, today, came the weirdest thing. I saw that one of my friends had found a new friend, and it said that my friend found this other person using "classmate search." So I clicked on classmate search. And guess who is on there...

Remember this friend? The one who stopped speaking to me after this terrible date?

Yup, she's on facebook. Weird, weird, weird, right? After all this time that I've wondered what ever happened to her, she looks exactly the same in her little picture and, from what I can see, it looks like she still lives in the same "region" where we grew up. As of right now, we don't have any mutual facebook friends, she hasn't added any of our other high school friends as friends.

That's all I know - I couldn't see her whole profile without adding her as a friend, and her inviting me as a friend.

Which I decided not to do. At least not right now. I think I'd be too upset if she didn't accept. And it would just be weird. And I hate feeling weird.

On the other hand, I think if she added me as a friend on facebook (without me friending her first), and she had a phone number on her profile, I'd probably pick up the phone and call her immediately. But I feel like she needs to make the first move.

In the meantime I'm feeling some real facebook weirdness. ugh.

More on Defending The Guilty

Anonymous Law Student follows up on my post on how to answer the oft-asked question, "How can you represent someone when you know he's guilty?" complete with a funny video!

One of the interesting things that comes out of ALS's post is:

It seems to me that there was a consensus that asking a person, "how can you defend someone you *know* is guilty" at a social gathering is somewhat crass. I think it's rude to ask a person to justify their job, especially at a casual get together.

So, is it a rude question? Is it crass for a person I meet at a cocktail party to ask, "How can you represent someone when you know he's guilty?"

I'll admit, when I hear the question, I feel a bit defensive. Maybe wrongly so, I'm not sure.

I haven't had many other jobs, but I waitressed in high school, I don't remember a lot of people worrying about the moral quandaries involved - it's not as a lot of people said to me, "How can you serve fatty food to people who are already obese?" Maybe waiting tables isn't a good example, but it's one job that I was never asked to defend.

I wonder if you could come up with a moral quandary for every job if you tried hard enough. In college I worked at a computer help desk. "How do you repair people's computers when they messed them up themselves, and you know they're just going to do it again?" Doesn't work quite as well.

But, maybe it's not meant to be rude or crass. Maybe I read too much into it. Maybe it's more like someone saying "Wow, a bus driver? How do you drive all around the city and pick those people up and drop them off?" Maybe they're not questioning my morals so much as expressing their awe...

Yeah, that's it, they're expressing their awe. Maybe the best response is, "Yeah, I know, it's hard, but I am pretty amazing."

Or, I also liked A Voice of Sanity's response:
You could always screw with their mind. Tell them, "The same way a funeral director can bury someone they know is dead".

Not that my client's prospects are as dim as the funeral director's, of course.

But, back to *the* question. What do you think... Is it a rude question? Are people just curious, and possibly well-meaning? Am I over-sensitive or too defensive? Those of you with other occupations, do you get any similar questions?

Apollo Justice? It's an Injustice!

Here's a first. My first video game review.

I found myself playing this video game, Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney. I just figured it out while "researching" for this blog post, but apparently it's a sequel to the more popular Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney.

In this game, I am Apollo Justice (hey, at least I don't have to change my last name.) I'm trying my first case, defending Phoenix Wright (of former ace attorney fame), accused of murder after a poker game. (Hell of a first trial, I know.)

This game is a "text based" adventure game. It's almost like a comic book mixed with a "choose your own adventure" concept. I remember PC games from the late 80s-early 90s that were somewhat similar. Basically, you reading the story, clicking "next," and collecting information. Your job is to look for inconsistencies and then make objections based on the inconsistencies.

I didn't get too far in the game, so if I reveal any "spoilers" here, they're from the first chapter, which is about how far I got before getting totally frustrated.

My first problem with the game is that it absolutely nothing like real courtroom proceedings. I realize the game was developed in Japan, and I'm really curious to know whether this is how a case proceeds in Japan or if the creators just didn't bother with making the game realistic at all.

For example, the trial against my client started by me cross-examining my client. First of all, the defendant usually gets to testify after all of the other evidence is presented, or at least after the prosecution's case. Second of all, as the defense attorney, I wouldn't cross-examine my own client - I'd leave that for the prosecutor.

Then, when you find an inconsistency, you're supposed to object, and argue to the judge that the testimony is inconsistent. What?!? So, for example, in the game I played, my client is accused of killing a man by hitting him over the head with a bottle. My client testifies that he never touched the bottle. Then I'm supposed to yell "OBJECTION!" (and I do mean "yell," the entire screen shakes to show how loud my character is yelling) and argue to the Judge, "Judge, there's an inconsistency here," showing that my client's fingerprints are on the bottle so, obviously, my client isn't telling the truth. That makes no sense! Who's side am I on?

Throughout the game, I kept thinking, "...and then I got disbarred."

And there are other dumb plot things. For instance, the more experienced lawyer who is supposed to be mentoring me through this murder trial turns out to be a witness to the events. While it might not be mandatory, I would assume that would be something your mentor would mention before you start your first murder trial.

Another issue was that the prosecutor sprung a "surprise" witness on me. Now, every jurisdiction has their own discovery rules, some more liberal than others. But, so far as I know, in every case you at least get a witness list before the trial begins, if for no other reason than to allow the judge or jurors to recuse themselves if they know any of the witnesses.

And then (spoiler alert!), that surprise witness, turns out to be using a fake name and identity, and then reveals it by ripping her costume off, Scooby-Doo style. What?!?

So, that was frustrating. But, ok, I'll concede that there are many games out there that aren't realistic in terms of portraying a job or occupation.

I know anyone who has ever waited tables can tell me all of the problems with Diner Dash, and anyone who has ever run a bakery can describe how unrealistic Cake Mania is. (Especially the level in Cake Mania 2 where you open an outer space bakery and serve cakes to aliens - that probably doesn't happen too much.) The same goes, I'm sure for wedding planners and Wedding Dash, hair stylists and Sally's Salon, Zoo Veterinarians and Zoo Hospital, and surgeons have Trauma Center:Under the Knife. And so on and so forth, everyone's got a game.

Which is why I was so excited to try a game that highlighted my chosen profession.

But aside from the plot (which, for all I know, could be an accurate representation of Japanese criminal procedure), I also found that there were problems with game play. For example, after each segment of testimony you have the option of "press" (as in, press the witness for more details) or "present" (that's when you say "OBJECTION!" and present the inconsistent evidence.)

But when I "press" for more information, the answer might deal with one area of the testimony, but not the other. In other words, if the witness says "I sat at my usual seat in the restaurant and ordered my usual meal." I might want to press by asking "What is your usual meal?" (there was some food in the photo that I thought might be inconsistent) or "How long have you been dining there?" But the response was always "My usual seat is nearest the piano."

More frustrating, though, was that, basically, you couldn't make an objection until the game was ready for you to make it. For example, in a few instances I found an inconsistency and immediately made an objection. The judge would say he didn't know what I was talking about, and I would lose points. (Eventually you lose enough points that you "die" and have to start all over again - hearing about the facts of the case from the beginning again, or at least the beginning of the chapter. Very annoying.) Then, if you don't make the objections, you get through the testimony, and the mentor says something like "Why don't you listen to the testimony again? You missed an inconsistency." I didn't miss it, I lost points for finding it too soon.

I found that most online reviews of Phoenix Wright and Apollo Justice were good, so perhaps it helps to not have a basis in reality that you must suspend.

I might give it another chapter, just out of curiosity. But, I'm curious, have any other lawyers out there tried this game? Or the original Phoenix Wright game? What did you think?

Overall, it's kind of frustrating to lose at a game that I should really kick ass at. I mean, amateurs, even kids, play this game, and I do this for a living and I get booted out of the courtroom? Of course I have to blame the game.

Cold Brewed Coffee

I guess I can get away with one more food-related post before everyone takes me off their criminal lawyer blogrolls...

Today, after reading all of the publicity, I tried cold-brewed coffee. I made it myself, and it is delicious.

I happened to have a french press already, so I used that. I filled it with 1.5 cups of cool water, and about 1/3 cup of coffee at night. I let it brew in the fridge overnight. This morning, I had to pour it through a little filter again, basically because I had overfilled my french press (but I'll be more careful next time.)

I drank it with lots of milk and sugar (it's strong!). It was delicious, all of the good of iced coffee without any of the acidic taste. Yum. I strongly recommend it.

If you don't have a french press, this is kind of a neat little cheap solution: Cold Brewed Coffee on the Cheap