Monday, February 28, 2005

Doggie Update

For those who were wondering:

Atreia is doing much better. She did not have a seizure over the weekend. YAY!!!! Unfortunately, The phenobarbital makes her anxious and tired at the same time (yawn pace, yawn, pace, whine) and worse, when she goes to sleep she looses bladder control and just... pees...

You can't fuss at her; she doesn't even realize what she did except that she wakes up wet and gets anxious.

We just have to chase after her and put towels under her- which is really sad. Oh, wait, don't sit down yet- let mommy get this towel under you....She peed on the kitchen rug, the blanket on the couch, the floor, my Beau's pants and the bed before we got a good hold of the situation. The vet says it should clear up within a week or so. At least I have a super capacity washer and plenty of dog towels.

Ok, so we're discussing the issue and we decide diapers may be the way to go until it clears up. My Beau is all for this-- he is plotting doggie diapers and how to make them fit. (He's an inventor my Beau) I have some good nylon and he's plotting the cover, tail hole, and how to affix it to her comfortably. Then, I suggest a maxi pad may be better... and he's all "That's where I draw the line! My girl may wear diapers but I'll be damned if she's is going to wear sanitary pads!" We both started laughing. "Ok, at least we know where the line is!" No maxi pads for Atreia!

(BTW, I know they make Fancy Pants for dogs-- but being the frugal wench I am, I ain't shelling out for something that costs twice as much just because it says "Dog" on it. )

This afternoon, I will purchase some diaper material at the sewing store and we will develop reusable doggie diapers with waterproof nylon lining....I smell income potential!

Friday, February 25, 2005

Are you a Liberal or Conservative?

Or Why you should fuss at people who insist on applying labels to you.

I grew up in Alabama. I grew up in Alabama when an avowed republican couldn't get elected dogcatcher and there were a whole lot of pro-life democrats. MadDog and Mommie Dearest were never really label people so I don't remember hearing the words Conservative or Liberal around my house much. I won't go into their actual politics, because I know they would not want you to know that; they're old school "Things We Don't Discuss in Public" voters.

Smart, my parents are.

Ok, so I went to a private liberal arts college. In Florida. This is about what I knew about politics as a freshman: I once did gymnastics on the stage where Ronald Reagan beneficently waved. I listened to the Ollie North debacle for 6 straight weeks while driving around the U.S. in a Honda Accord not being allowed to read because I was missing the Kansas. I met Howell Heflin. I was bussed to school and knew that it was because of a lawsuit about making the schools nice in all neighborhoods. Somehow, I never had a history class that got past WWI (and always glossed over the "Late Unpleasantness".)

So, I get to College and naturally, being Southern, I had been strictly trained to automatically use Yes Sir/No sir Yes Ma'am/No Ma'am when responding to adults. Naturally, this carried over to professors. I had profs who loved to call on me and then point out to the rest of the class how deeply ingrained my socialization was because I had trouble *not* saying it even when I knew I would get teased. Apparently, merely uttering the symbolic tag of patriarchal hierarchal classism was enough to make me a Conservative.

I was also armed with such important aphorisms as: Poor people have poor ways. Reputations like fine china are easily broken and poorly mended. Lie down with dogs, get up with fleas.

I was quickly labeled The Conservative, except that my proffs could never get me to go the Dualist route with Descartes, and I've always been Pro-Choice.

College opened my eyes to a lot of things, but I still felt the same way politically. I think that ***my parents raised a smart daughter*** so I'm not going to tell you what I think.

So, then I went to Law School at Alabama.

One day in class I had to comment because I felt very strongly about a case we were discussing. I said that IF there were women who had a desire to run around in their underwear and do pushups, and, IF they could make it through the same rigorous training as the men, they should be allowed to attend the military institutes, which are after all, supported by American's tax dollars.

I had a student throw a Mother Jones magazine at me after class and say, "Here's some stupid liberal reading for you hippie freak."

**** mind blown*****

I realized that Liberal and Conservative are just stupid labels and pretty much no one worth talking with would adhere dogmatically to anyone else's political agenda anyway.

(Note for you aspiring attorneys: pissing off people in law school is a bad idea. I have a long memory. I am so proud of what I said to that twerp: "My dad says that the people we meet here today are the people we're going to be practicing with for the rest of our lives. We will be the senators, Judges and leaders of this state. One day you're gonna regret this stupid incident." and I walked away. (Thank you Thomas Jefferson Quote) OHHHH and best of all, he did in fact live to regret it even before he graduated lawschool and apologized.)

So quit it!! The next time you begin to say someone is Conservative or Liberal stop yourself. Lets attack the individual idea with which we have a problem. Besides, if you know anything about international politics, you'll realize that the spectrum is wide and by and far most Americans are to the right of almost all Europeans. One Country's liberal is the next Country's Conservative. Plus, have you ever changed someone's mind about a core issue? Those are decisions we do not make logically, but emotionally, no matter what people tell you.

Doing stupid things in public....

A good day for me is one when I go home and don't feel like I stuck my foot tooo far into my mouth. The following is a bad day I had last week.

I take a fair number of criminal appointments. I've mentioned this...When one receives one's appointment, one goes to City Hall and copies the records. These give you not only your client's contact information, but also the other necessary information about the charges. The open file policy of the City is one of the reasons I enjoy representing people there.

So, I get a bunch of appointments in the mail, make my files and trot off to City Hall to copy. I should insert here that I try to walk everywhere I go. Its just plain healthy, better for the environment, and good for the soul to get up and move about.

I get to the records room and they buzz me in. All the files are stacked on the wall sorted into Court dates and I go through pulling the ones I need. (Pointer: if you pull the file out an inch or so next to the one you're getting, it makes it much easier to return the file) I get to the copier and ohhhh shit, its a new copier.

*I can cope with new technology. * I can cope with new technology. *mash touchscreen* I manage to make it work. Yay! Good job. We're copying now. (Smurf song: La La La LA aLA la)

I set a record on the edge like I used to with the old copier, except when I pick up the top to make the next copy, whoop, the file falls behind the machine.

So freaking typical.

Ok, how to solve this problem? On the right the machine is up against the wall. It is not on wheels, so I can't move it out. I look to the left edge of the thing, and decide I can contort between the two feeder slides to reach behind and get my file.

Ok, I have a plan. This is ok. Luckily I seldom wear skirts, and that day was no exception, so I just start slithering in. I do it! I get in ! I get the file! I get the file on top of the machine and now its down to extracting myself from behind the machine. The easy part, right?

You know- the best way to get out is to reverse what you did to get in. In Theory.

I'm backing out slowly. Did I mention I walk everywhere so I'm in pretty good shape? I'm also apparently getting old because as I back out slowly I bend my knee just wrong and it pops out of joint.

This has not happened for years.

It wasn't pain exactly-- more that nauseous feeling of a pinched something. Grating down deep in my knee. I push off the wall, and flop onto my side holding my knee and trying to make it pop back in. I manage not to scream or make too much noise. So far I have not attracted too much attention, but I am wallowing in the floor of City Hall which is not exactly an inconspicuous place.

Just then a detective comes along. He immediately wants to call an ambulance. No No No I'm fine its just out of place and I just have to get it back in. I am whimpering because I keep trying to straighten it so it will... Whew...pop back in.

Ok, I am now on the floor and ready to try to stand. I cannot bend my leg. I feel like a fool. I mean, I didn't actually touch anything when I did it. I had my weight on the other leg. And now there is a large detective standing over and people are starting to notice.

Detective reaches down and helps me up. He is giggling at me. Detectives like to do that.

I feel almost as dumb as when I was reading a brief and walked straight into that steel pipe hanging off the back of the truck in the parking lot and knocked myself out. Yeah, I'm one of those cerebral types.

Now, that actually wasn't the worst part. Here's where it gets bad. It must have effected my brain-- like a car wreck or any other traumatic event. I am trying to be cool about it. I am managing to not cry which is hard for me when I get real embarrassed like that.

Now the copier is not working.

The detective and the officer-who-wants-to-fix-things start helping me figure out what is wrong with it. Detective makes some joke about shooting it. I said, "You know I've found that sometimes just showing it your revolver can put the fear in it and get it working again."

He looks at me and says, "I don't have a revolver."

Well fucking duh. Duh duh duh. I have guns. I grew up with guns, I know his piece is not a revolver its a pistol. Now I feel like an idiot and want desperately to explain that I know the difference between a revolver and a pistol. So I do. and then I really just want to cry. Duh duh duh.

A revolver BTW, holds separate bullets in chambers that rotate as the operator cocks the gun or pulls the trigger. You use a revolver to play Russian Roulette, because if there is no bullet in the chamber the firing pin strikes it will not fire. A Pistol has a clip that holds the bullets and as each is fired, the spring moves the next into place so it is ready to fire. If you play Russian Roulette with it you will die- every time.

I have to sit there. I can't run away. I just pretend I never said it, after my initial duh, I know that's a pistol. The fall must have effected my brain. He'll probably not think any more about it-- I'm a chick and chick's aren't supposed to know anything about guns anyway. Its like a guy not knowing the difference between a pump and a stiletto. I will resort to stereotypes to relieve my irritation : )

But still, I hate hate hate making stupid mistakes like that. Almost as much as I hate being the center of attention, which you'd think might be an issue with being a lawyer and all, but somehow its not. I love public speaking so go figure. Surprise birthday parties make me ill, but put me in front of a jury and I'm happy.

At any rate, that's the story of why I was limping last week.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Hunter S. Thompson

Because there can never be too much said about Thompson, below is a link to Tom Wolfe's salute to him.

My writing will be sparse this week. My beau's dog developed seizures on Tuesday and has now had three. We are sick with worry. What is the world could make a perfectly healthy 5 year old shepherd have three seizures in 30 hours?

Check back next week for more exciting tales from the Courtroom....

I'll leave you with the quote I keep beside my desk:

Nothing gives one person so much power over another as to remain always cool and unruffled under all circumstances.
Thomas Jefferson

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Requiem for Hunter S. Thompson

Ok, I saw a snatch of something about him being dead (he wouldn't have wanted any silly euphemism) and finally had time to track down the info.

My list of people I would like to have a beer (or bottle of tequila...) with is one person shorter.

I think he's great. He's the kind of person I'd have liked to take down to Pirate's Cove for a beer- and I'll bet he would have liked it too.

What can I say? He was an institution. He was Southern. He was Great. He did things and said things other people couldn't have said or done. Everyone should have one person like this in their lives. I have several. They live in exotic locals and I visit them occasionally and feel so much the richer for having been in their vicinity- even though I am usually broke and hung over when its time to go home.

Go forth, and cultivate the Hunter S. Thompson in your life- don't be mad at him for being broke, buy him a bottle of Pinch and let him find you an adventure.


I have this theory. People who were popular in Highschool are ruined pretty much forever. It is really quite sad. They think that the behavior that worked in highschool will work for the rest of their lives. I witnessed this at my Dad's 30 year reunion where some of his old buddies acted like kids- and couldn't quit talking about how great highschool was. 30 YEARS LATER. So sad.

I witnessed it again today when I represented a person I knew in highschool. This person was sooo cool it hurt. This person was beautiful/hansome/pretty (I don't want to give away the sex) This person has been in and out of jail and prison. This person is on its 7th DUI. No college degree, no spouse, no family, no car, no house, no job. (I ain't got no cigarette....just 8 hours of pushing broom....)

So, wallow in your tortured highschool days. Remember that its the awful behavior of those catty wenches that made you know how important it is to be nice to people. The torture gave you depth. The reading so much made you interesting. The clothes snobbishness taught you that name brands weren't important. The studying lead to your degree.

And finally, throw a little pity towards your former nemesis- poor things, they really don't have a clue.

Its like I said to my best friend recently: having such awful clueless bosses really taught her a lot about leadership by teaching her what was not effective so that when she was the boss, she was able to lead soooo much better for all the difficulties she had been through.

Friday, February 18, 2005

Friday Book Ideas....

Jeffrey Steingarten has my dream job. He is an attorney who is now the food critic for Vogue. This means he gets to play with cool gadgets and travel to exotic locals to eat amazing food encouraged by the best chefs on the globe. His two books, "The Man Who Ate Everything" and "It Must Have Been Something I Ate" are so wonderful that they could turn even the most hardcore "eat to live" advocate into someone who sees the beauty in an amazing gourmet feast.
He deals with the science of food- not food fads and makes gourmet something you can actually understand and appreciate.

His only shall I say, small failing, is that he claims that Memphis bar-b-que is the best. Those of us who live in North Alabama and Southern Tennessee know that only vinegar based bar-b-cue sauces, only *pulled pork* and only vinegar slaw are part of true bar-b-que. Since Big Bob Gibson's here in North Alabama is the reigning World Championship bar-b-que (Although I think MadDog's and Whitt's are better), I can only assume his failure to acknowlege our superior product is due to someone from Memphis preventing him from trying our vastly tastier Bar-b-que.

On to fiction. Well, sort of. About 2 years ago I got really into Bruce Chatwin. Unfortunately due to his death in 1997 I completed the body of his works rather quickly. First, I absolutely love travel writing. "What am I doing Here" is loosely autobiographical and a really good read- he leads the kind of life we all imagined we would when we were children. The book is about where he goes to do research for his books, the people he knows, and the coups he witnesses. At one point in his life he did providence research for Southeby's so his knowledge of antiques and architecture is incredible-- he also stressed himself out so much he was struck by hysterical blindness. His command of the English language when he is writing well is a true pleasure. "The Viceroy of Ouidad" (former opulence of a regime confronting modern government and culture) "Patagonia Revisited" (with Paul Theroux) "Songlines" (about Australian Aboriginal culture) "Utz" (eastern European glass collection and governmental seizure of invaluable collections) -- they are all great. So great in fact, that I have procured 1st editions of each. I also read his autobiography which gives some great insight into a person who died way too young, although it does drag at times and spends perhaps too much time destroying the persona Chatwin cultivated. ("Bruce Chatwin" by Nicholas Shakespeare)

Another book in the "travel writing" genre is "Sir Vida's Shadow." Great travel writing, and an insight into (east) Indian Culture made this book one I didn't put down.

Have a great weekend!

Monday, February 14, 2005

Human Beings

I said it 4 times in Court today.

I have probably said it each and every time I've been in Court for Child Support.

"If I had the power to turn the (mother, father) of your child into a decent human being I would not be here. I would be on Oprah making millions of dollars and sharing the secret."

I cannot make people into adults, and I really can't do it in 15 minutes in Court. Now, if I were Philosopher King I could get a lot farther than I can now with all these pesky Rights everyone insists on....

So today I had Mr. T again. (Naturally, that's a pseudonym.) Mr. T made a new baby with a lesbian who's married to a racist red neck. Oh, and that's only the begining.

For those of you who haven't had the pleasure of learning about Mr. T, I'll fill you in tomorrow.

Until then, picture Mr. T and you're 90% there. I am too tired to be witty and I have real work to do.

Friday, February 11, 2005

Comments and paranoia

For those of you who want to post comments without having to register and reveal all that ever-so-private information... I am assured by the site that you can now do this.

Friday Quote

My Uncle called today with two good quotes:

"You can get much farther with a kind word and a gun than you can with a kind word alone." Al Capone

And, from the man who believed all young men should be placed in a barrel and fed through the bung hole until they turn 21, "the difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug." Mark Twain

Have a wonderful weekend !

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Difficult People...

Court. For most people having to be in Court is something that has been consuming their mind for several days before Court-- sometimes for months and sometimes even for years they have rehearsed this moment.

They have gotten ALL geared up in their minds to say what they want to say.

Let them. 10 minutes of listening can save hours of frustration- even if its irrelevant, irritating, depressing or boring.

Naturally, this applies applies to most situations in life. If someone is getting up in your face telling you something and the words are pouring out-- let them. Sit tight and let them get it out. Don't interrupt. Don't point out that which is obviously wrong.

Practice non-committal listening prompts. My favorite one, "Is that right?" (which can also be used in a wonderful passive-aggressive way but that's for a different day!) There is also, "And then what happened?" This way you avoid agreeing with them, or disagreeing, you merely provide permission to continue getting it out.

When they're done, then you can go back and begin a dialog.

This is how I am able to deal with DHR clients who have been problematic to others. This is why today I learned about a single mother who just had her thyroid removed, is working 2 jobs, had one son shot to death last year, another in college and the third in high school who needs braces. So, maybe this person is being a bitch because she's got a lot on her shoulders...

and maybe that aggressive driver just got fired, or dumped....

and maybe that person who broke in front of you in line is worried about how s/he's going to care for her dad with terminal cancer and didn't really think about what s/he did...

Let it go, smile and be proud of yourself for letting it go, and remember you never know what someone else's private hell is.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

A few of my favorite names

Ok, as an attorney I have a duty not to reveal anything that could lead to someone figuring out who my clients are. Thus, I'm going to pick on names I have seen printed on dockets and are not my clients, even though I have some of the best client names EVER.

Yesterday I was looking at the docket for Court. The docket lists the cases to be heard and some other information.

All names are listed last name, middle/maiden, first name.
This was my favorite: Large, Wise Rhonda.

We also have a lot of names that coincide with the names of local attorneys. There is a really bad deadbeat dad who has the exact full same name as a local attorney. We have fun with that.

apostrophes are big right now. Cause, you know, nothing says class like an apostrophe.

Since its Ash Wednesday, last month I saw: A'phippany. Her lawyer was Catholic and he was the one who showed it to me.

There was also J'aQ'uanderick. Judge had to turn his chair around so no one could see him laugh on that one.

There is a Cassius Clay, a Mark Maguire, and a whole lot of others. My favorite is when the people are just totally opposite of the famous name and enough younger than that person that you wonder what their parents were thinking. There are several Caucasian Michael Jacksons who are under 30. That must suck.

Finally one that just kind of makes you wonder: Feloney (Like Melanie...) and one I just love for some reason: Reprobatus.

Courtroom procedure

A Courtroom, I decided early on in my career, is like the stage in a play. Most of what we do is routine and, well, scripted. Prosecutor asks that the charges be Dismissed Without Prejudice, Defense lawyer wants them Dismissed With Prejudice. You have routine questions and routine answers. Except sometimes you think your client understands your questions and she doesn't.

I learned not to use euphemisms too often this way:

Me: Could anyone else be the father of your child?
CP: (custodial parent): Well, I was talkin to a couple of guys, but Mr. Y is the only one who could be the father...
Me: So you were talking to a few men, but only one of them could have conceived the child with you?
Cp: Yes.

In front of Judge:

Me: Now, Ms. X, did you and Mr. Y have sexual relations approximately 9 months before this child was born?
Cp: Yes.
Me: Did you have sexual relations with anyone else at that time?
Cp: Yes.
Me: Ummm, wait, you said earlier no one else could be the father.
Cp: I tole you I was talkin to a couple of men.
Me: If we could have a moment, your Honor.

(We move to the side, since I don't want to figure this out in front of Judge)

Me: What in the world? Why didn't you tell me there was another possibility?
Cp: He ain't the daddy.
Me: I didn't ask you that, I asked you if someone else Could be the daddy.
Cp: I was talkin to both of them but Mr. Y he's the daddy.
Me: I don't care who you were talking to, I care who you had sex with when the child was conceived.
Cp: I told you I was talkin to him.

After this incident I started using the blunt "Who did you have sex with?" with the women.

Hey, Cowboy, Wanna Get Lucky?

Last night I finished Hey, Cowboy, Wanna get lucky? (Please note, underlining is not an option when I'm writing these things, so I'm going to go with Bold to set off titles...)

Its written by Baxter Black who is that Cowboy Philosopher on NPR, and since I know you love NPR as much as I do, I'm sure you've heard him. I really really loved this scene where one of the cowboys has fallen over a porcupine and after the fun hospital visit actually tells his girl the truth but she doesn't believe him so she dyes him purple. This is fun stuff.

I want to tell you I loved this book. It was an easy read, had a wonderful writing style with some good techniques, and was a good story. Something was just not outstanding. I think maybe it should have been 50 pages longer-- for better character development but hell, who am I to criticize? Maybe it was just the poetry. The poetry did not work for me. Sorry.

It was definitely worth reading- if for nothing else use of the phrase, "Hey, Cowboy, wanna get lucky?"

Which brings me to a thought:

You may have noticed that all the books I've put in here, except for the Lawyer stories one, have been by authors whose last name begins with B. I really and truly did pick these books by their covers. Well, by their covers and that certain je ne sais qua you get when you pick up the book. I stood in the library at the B section (someone was in the A's) and just looked through the books until one struck me then picked it up and examined its cover.
Yes! I have been judging books by their covers, and I would like to postulate this is something we should now do.
Never judge a book by its cover began back when books' covers were all pretty simple- some leather, some tooling, maybe a little gold leaf... And I like the concept that the phrase now represents-- that just because something isn't interesting at first glance does not mean it lacks substance or importance. I believe this concept is important and valid.
However, let us return to the denotation, as it were, of this phrase. Book Covers are now, and have been for some time, advertisements designed to draw in the reader to look at this book. Full color covers are quite common. Artwork, fonts, and blurbs all appear on the cover and I suggest that that's exactly what they're there for-- for you to determine if this book fits within the realm of your interest.
For example: On the cover of Hey, Cowboy, Wanna get Lucky I learn that Baxter Black is the NPR commentator. That's a plus in my mental list. The cover and artwork are good-- another plus. The back blurb is good enough not to turn you off. Frankly, it just had that certain je ne sais qua that made me select it.
So, I selected 5 books that day and only one of them could I not finish reading. That's a pretty good success rate at book cover judging. Of course, who knows what scintillating books I missed....

Monday, February 07, 2005

Public Service announcement...

Another attorney called to show me the pictures he is going to use in Court today.

Remember that whole "Hell hath no furry like a woman scorned?" I would change it to read: Hell hath no furry like the dumpee in a relationship.

Lets just put this in writing in case you didn't realize it: If you aren't paying your child support its a really really bad idea to allow pictures of you drinking in a bar to be put on said bar's web site. It demonstrates that you have money to be out.

Also, if you are over 12 sticking out your tongue in pictures is ALWAYS a bad idea. It is not a flattering look.

Finally, just in case there was a question in your mind: framing pictures for use on said web page so that it looks like the barmaid is on her knees in front of you performing abdulations to the family jewels is REALLY a bad idea especially when your baby momma is pissed at you and knows what bar you go to.

I can't wait to see this. Its gonna be better than the woman week before last who was asking for a third DNA test because God told her how the alleged father (AF) was beating the tests and that he was definitely her baby daddy. Judge asks her to explain: She says that AF's "partner" (yes, with all connotations from that word) distracted the phlebotomist and substituted the swab or has a friend down at the lab who switched swabs. Huh. I just want to know exactly what passage you have to read in the Bible for God to tell you who your baby daddy is.... Kind of makes me miss that jealous and vengeful God who doesn't want you to have SEX OUT OF WEDLOCK.
This demonstrates the same kind of mind that can be pro-life and pro-death penalty.

Summons to Court or When to call your attorney

If people did what they were supposed to do we would have to get real jobs, and they would probably involve manual labor. Maddog often says this to remind us where some of our clients are coming from. Ommmmm.

Friday I received a call from another attorney, JS. JS had an old client come in to see him to help him address some Court papers he received. Now, in the United States, you have a constitutional right to be told why you are being summoned to Court. This is because when we were merely a Colony, Britain did have not to tell you why you were being arrested and these Secret Bills angered a lot of people, so when they wrote the constitution they gave us the right to know the charges against us. There are some duties attached to these rights-- like you have to file an Answer to the charges against you or a Default could be taken.

When I serve papers on people, I (and all lawyers) attach a sheet of paper that says something like: "The papers attached to this paper are important. You must file an answer to these papers within 30 days (14 in District Court) and appear on this date at this time in front of Judge Blank, or a Default judgment could be taken against you." Really, its in bold 14 point type. I also serve interrogatories on all my Child Support nonpayers. Interrogatories are questions to help me make sure there are no legal reasons you haven't been paying Child Support. (Once, I actually got, "I was in the mental hospital" in response to "reasons for not paying" Okey dokey, there's a reason. ) I put in bold 20 point font at the top of these: Please read and answer these questions.

I am not trying to be subtle here, or sneaky.

Now. Lets guess what percentage of those whom I serve with these papers actually read and answer the Complaint OR the Interrogatories?

3%, maybe less.

Which is why I was actually surprised to hear from this attorney. His client, and I have the papers to prove it, was served in NOVEMBER with the papers. Court is scheduled for Tuesday (February 8). Client has not made a payment since last April. The second notice to appear went out January 18. Naturally, he goes to see his attorney FRIDAY , February 4.

Client has found a job. Yay! Guess when he has to be there? No, No, really- guess!

Tuesday when he is to be in Court. WHY? WTF?

I agree with attorney to actually be in Court at 3:30, not 1:30 so client can go to work first but I refuse to put it off because, well, I feel that that would be rewarding procrastination by the Client. Attorney is cool with that since he already has to be there, and I would always give the attorney a continuance or Client if there was a real reason.

Ok, lets go over this people: Blowing off Court is not on par with blowing off your friends. You get 1 notice, no excuses. We're not gonna call you and remind you that its important.

Why am I telling you? I KNOW you would be there, and would have called your attorney the DAY you received the papers, or as soon as you realized you were headed into something legal! You wouldn't, say, call her on a Friday afternoon when she was in a CLE and your house closing was melting down and you had already paid to put new hardwood floors in the home you wanted to buy before signing the deal and say, "Arrrggg! This other attorney is charging us thousands and he keeps screwing everything up and now the sellers are demanding more money to close just because we didn't close when we promised we would! What do I do????"

Would you? Nah. Not my friends. : ) Not my Bestest friend in the whole wide world. Nah. UnUnh, it isn't gonna happen.

Friday, February 04, 2005

Quilting, poverty and modern art

As many of you know I've been really into quilting lately. Last night I fell into my ever more common habit of watching only Public TV and watched The Quilters of Gee's Bend.

Gee's Bend is in Wilcox County, Alabama. According to the program, in the 1930's, during the New Deal, it was declared to be the poorest county in the U.S. Take a minute and let that settle in. Poorest in the Entire U.S. during the Depression. At that time there was a man who lent money to all the people in the community, who were primarily African-American. He died and his wife and creditors decided to collect the money, so they went to people's homes and took everything of value down to their chickens. One of the current quilters told how her mother hadn't said anything when they took their 1 bag of potatoes, nor their only hog, nor the first 2 of their three chickens, but when the man went back to get the last chicken she picked up the washing stick (to stir the laundry which one washed in a large cast iron pot over the fire- of course he had already taken the kettle) and told him if he didn't leave them at least one chicken she was gonna kill him. She said he lit out of there real fast.

In the 60's the residents tried to register to vote. The County leaders took away their Ferry so they couldn't get to the voting place. They swam the river, so they were tear gassed at the voting place, which was a church. They went outside and sang.

Time moved slowly in Wilcox County, as it is wont to do down here.

One day, 30 years later, a confirmed batchelor from Mobile saw a picture of a quilt made by one of the women in the community. He recognized it for the abstract modern work of art it is. He drove to Wilcox County, found the woman who made it, and persuaded her to sell it to him. He then took it to his connections in the Art World...(good things happen)... and now there is a traveling exhibition of the quilts and the women have been feted across the U.S. for their amazing works of art.

And they are amazing! The quilts look for all the world as though the great abstract works of the modern art world had been captured in textiles- by women who had no exposure to Great Modern Art. The quilts are their visions, their own abstractions from their lives.

One quilt which particularly struck me was made by a woman after her husband died. She wanted to be able to surround herself with him when she missed him, so she took every piece of clothing he owned and made a quilt from it. It was not a large quilt. There were 4 colors in it. It contained every piece of clothing he had owned. Take another minute and let that sink in.

The cool thing: Now that these women are being recognized as true artists they are making real money- upwards of $2,000 for a quilt. How cool is that?

There is also a book The Quiltmakers of Gee's Bend, but definitely go see the exhibit if its anywhere near you. I'll post if I find out where it is.

Have a great weekend everyone and I'll post more on Monday.

Time waster on Friday....

My favorite Friday time waster is Carolyn Hax at Washington Post Here: she does a live chat on Fridays that covers everything from work issues to the joys of new shoes. She also discusses fun things like flaming baconpants, and flying reindeer poo.

No Court today, but don't worry, I have 5 dockets next week....

Thursday, February 03, 2005

A day in the office...

For the first time this week I don't have Court or clients. Naturally, I will have a million emergencies crop up- especially since I didn't wear a suit.

One of my Judges states this phenomenon this way: "Either the day will expand to fit the docket or the docket will expand to fit the day." The good thing about this attitude is that we don't have those awful Court backlogs you hear about.

New reading suggestions

Last week I stumbled across Favorite Trial Stories Edited by A.K. Adams. If you're a lawyer or know someone who is- get it, you'll enjoy it. There are a wide range of authors featured- from Agatha Christie and George Shaw to Charles Dickens and O. Henry- and although I have only read the first story I think this will become a fixture.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

When I am Philosopher King....

When I am philosopher king... Is something my Dad and I play sometimes when we are in Court. He has a few perennial favorites. When He is Philosopher King colors will have numbers and not names. He will no longer have to figure out the difference between Sage, Mint, Moss, Windswept Coast, River, Grass, Cucumber, Field Pea and Bottle. He will know that green #24 is not the same as green #18. He will know that if something says black #24 it will not clash with another black #24 but that black #65 may not look the same.

I like this idea. I will certainly implement it when I am Philosopher King.

When I am Philosopher King I will force all young people to take philosophy each year in school. Now, not everyone will get it- but it WILL encourage thought, reason, and logic. We need more of these things.


Maddog says its Maddog not mad dog, and Maddog surely knows his name. How did a perfectly respectful man come to have a name like Maddog?

I love this story.

He had a client with a very interesting (to lawyers) little case that sounds like something a contracts professor would write for a final exam. Client has a crop. Crop is distroyed. Lloyd's of London (the insurance co) doesn't want to pay. The whole thing ends up revolving around Insurance Company's claim the crop is a fungible good. (A fungible good is like corn. One fifty pound sack of corn is the same as another 50 pound sack of corn.) In this case, the good was Cotton. Cotton, unlike corn, is not a fungible good. Did you know that based on the numbers printed on your T-shirt they can tell down to which half of the the 40 acre field where your cotton was grown? They can. He prepares for trial. He cannot understand why he can't settle the case because he KNOWS he is right. Well, they loose at the Circuit Court level. They loose on appeal. He knows he is right. He has case law. He writes one of his few Sup. Ct briefs- and kept it brief at only 6 pages- because the issue is simple, at least to him. Cotton is not a fungible good. Finally, up to the Sup. Court it goes and THEY REVERSED AND RENDERED the Circuit Judge. Heheheheheeh. (only the lawyers will get the slap that that is!)

Client is soooo happy. Client's son owns a t-shirt printing business and prints up t-shirts with client holding back Maddog, with his little bald head and glasses drawn as a rotweiller, on a leash with the scales of justice between his teeth. Arrrggg.

I Love my Dad.

Boyfriends and girlfriends

Today was 38 and raining when I awoke. It is often difficult for me to get up and get at it under such conditions, especially when I have early criminal court.

My client today. What can I say? He was charged with, um, how do I phrase this? He and his girlfriend stole his boyfriend's car and stole the rent money from the console while they were at it. Then, just for good measure, he beat up his girlfriend. This sounds like an episode of some crazy TV show, right here in River City. Due to no one wanting to press charges, I had the cases set up to be dismissed upon his completion of Domestic Violence classes. He failed to attend. I talked to him three weeks ago and told him that if he enrolled promptly and could show his attendance at the hearing today, I could still have it dismissed.

Instead he just doesn't show-- Bingo! FTA warrant. I have no phone number, so I can't call him. I know it was a cold and yucky morn- but shoot I held them off until 10:30 when he should have been there at 8:30. What else can I do?

I have to remind myself of what the great Mad Dog always says: If people did what they were supposed to do you and I would have to get real jobs- and they would probably involve manual labor.

So, I'll get a call in a few weeks and then we'll have to go deal with it.

This afternoon I get to deal with the question: Is it ever appropriate to hit your wife of 24 years upside the head with a wrench? The officer swore out the warrant (not the victim) - the pictures are graphic- and my client hasn't responded to my letters. I anticipate a continuance.

Reading Material

I've rediscovered the joys of the library so I'm on a real reading kick right now. I thought I'd share the books I've read in the last week or so:

First: A Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs. I can't believe I didn't read this as a child. It was first published in 1912 and is so interesting for the world perspective colored by that fact alone-he has flying ships that you have to enter through rope ladders. Its a great read, well written and truly engaging.

Second: Thank You For Smoking by Christopher Buckley. A while back my mom gave me This is No Way to Treat A First Lady also by Buckley which I also enjoyed, so I thought I'd try another by this author. Its good fun, not heavy literature. This is a suspense novel involving the three main lobyists for the Tobacco, Alcohol and Firearms industries who call them selves the Merchants of Death or MOD squad. Great quips, like my favorite where the protagonist is agonizing over his efforts on behalf of the tobacco industry and at the same time knowing he couldn't afford tuition for his child in private school if he did something else and he decides its the Yuppie Nuremburg Defense- "I was only doing it to pay the bills."

Third: Second Wives by Cindy Blake. What can I say? Its trash lit, but I read every word. I suppose its always better to read than watch TV.... It would be a definite summer beach read. There is great suspense, some good introspection, and the characters are well rounded and developed.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

My First Blog

My adventure today:

Today I represented a wonderful young man charged with both Menacing and Harassing communications. In the Harassing Communications warrant the complaintiant lists my client's occupation as "My Drug Dealer." She also shows up to Court in pajama bottoms and slippers. The other warrant also lists my client's occupation as "drug dealer." My client was tall with tight short cornrows and full Auburn regalia-- from jacket, pants and shoes to the wallet clipped to his belt loop. The whole nine yards- orange and blue Woo whooo! He was also wall eyed and I had a lot of trouble not giggling when he started using his rap on me-- "Ya' knowwhatimsayin, I was in Cincinnati when she don' said I was callin' hea' main." Complete with illustrative arm movements and eyes flying in all directions. I breathe and compose myself. I point out they have phones in Cincinnati, too, my question is, "Did you call her?" "naw naw, that's not how it is I done been talkin' to her cousin, see, and she done get mad at her and then she done sweared out this warrant on me all false like and all youknowwhai'msayin'. He also tells me that he isn't this guy's drug dealer- this guy is his drug dealer. I keep telling him that I want to try this because both of these people are KNOWN (in other words-- um, all three people here have extensive criminal histories) and his word is just as good as theirs is. If they're lying, then lets tell the Judge.

Then, he makes an interesting although logically null statement: "I'm a three time felon, main, and I can't own no gun. I get another felony, its life for me. How can I be waving a gun around if I can't own no gun?"

Dude, I say, "Its Alabama. Anyone can get a gun in Alabama. Now, I agree, it would be stupid of you to have a gun and waive it around- but come on, you can get a gun."

Back and forth. I try to pull the reality out of him, but he's one of those guys who is more interested in trying his versions on me to see if one sticks. I blow holes in all his logic.

He takes the plea, and I can't argue with him.

I have noticed that most of my misdemeanor clients will tell me the truth (or at least a reasonable version of same). In a small town like this we all have to take these appointments since we do not have a Public Defender. Most of the time, these people just want someone to help them navigate through the system and answer their questions. I really enjoy it because most of the time my clients tell me what they did do and I can help them.

For example, last week: Dude fires a gun into the ceiling of his wife's best friend's house where wife's beau was staying because my guy just got back from Afghanistan and, naturally, found out about the beau. He is charged with Reckless Endangerment and Tresspassing by wife's friend. He refuses to plead guilty to the tresspassing on account of the fact that he left immediately when asked. I got the Tresspassing dropped and he happily goes up to plead guilty to the Reckless Endangerment-- except then when we got in front of the Judge the friend got so angry at the prosecutor for dropping the Tresspassing that she dropped the other charge because, Because. I didn't understand that logic, but I also didn't argue. I got the dismissal and then hauled my client into the corner away from friend so she wouldn't get ticked on the way out and change her mind.

I was irritated for my client. He goes to defend his country and what does he get? A wife cheating on him- subsidized by his wages! I suggested that maybe he needed to take some time to re-orient himself. I know the military gets people pumped up to go go overseas and KILL, but you got to remember you're home now. You can't handle this with a gun. I told him to divorce the bitch, don't hurt her. Any Judge would give him a great settlement but if he goes off committing Domestic Violence he's gonna loose any advantage he has. He goes into Court as patriot with a cheating spouse-- he gets it all. He goes into Court as crazy military dude who used his training to stalk and hurt her- he gets blacklisted, nailed to the wall, and looses part of his retirement to her.