Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Well, the weather's beautiful and I've caught up with a bunch of work but....

....but I have too many high maintainence clients right now. I so rarely give people my cell phone but three people have it right now and they are all using it.

Here's my favorite from last week: My client's baby daddy inherited 4 million- U.S.- after tax dollars- from a rich Aunt in India. First of all, who in Alabama has a rich aunt in India for crying out loud? Secondly, my client has decided to drop the DV charges against him. He agreed to pay the filing fee, of course, and he's going to buy 20 acres and build them each a home so they can... I dunno, fall off the wagon again, together, and piss away 4 million, U.S., after tax, dollars living across from each other like Woody Allen and Mia Farrow on crack in BFE Alabama.

These people have heretofore been fighting over a trailer with a mortgage of 22k. A 1990 trailer, with amenities like shotgun holes in the ceiling and security cameras specially installed to watch the neighbors... In case they try something.

I actually feel sorry for them for inheriting this money. Seriously, this man has been sober for less than 30 days. Granted, he did apparently kick crack on his own about 5 years ago, but money...So I have to act all happy for her when inside I'm thinking... You poor, poor girl. You have no idea how fast you can blow through this money.

Ok, I have to go to a Mardi grais party now... I'll be more regular with my writing this week.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

One year!

Hey I just realized I have been doing this for one year!!!!!


For one year I've been spewing forth to you, my unknown audience.

I imagine you out there. I do- I picture you at work needing a break and clicking over to see what I've been up to. I guess I picture you that way because that's what I do.

I sneak and read your blogs to relax me. You have seen my favorites at the bottom of the blog- and I hope you have visited them. I plan to add more to my roll soon- so you can see who interests me.

I started this because all my friends wanted to read my stories and because I love to write and want to craft all this into a book. (Concept titles: It Pays to be Anal's Daughter or How MadDog Made Me Who I Am Today-- or maybe: Being a Southern Lady Means I Can Cut Your Guts Out With One Hand While Carefully Submitting my Exhibits to the Judge With the Other and Never Spill a Drop of Blood on My Suit. )

I keep doing it because its fun, dag-nab-it.

Public Service Announcement...

Ok, so today I had absolutely nothing scheduled and at 4 PM its the first time I can actually sit down and catch my breath. That's how it goes.

But yesterday I went shopping and I decided that when I'm rich and I can quit being a lawyer instead of becoming a writer I will become a designer.

I will design panties that will stay in place. and look cute.

I will design women's work clothes that all fit exactly true to size. You will be able to go into a store and say, "I wear a size 10 in that brand" and pick up the pants and not even have to try them on.

Oh and I came up with the idea about adjustable length pants a WHILE ago. (I saw them for sale somewhere and I'm glad someone is marketing them.) My pants will come in lots of adjustable lengths.

I will design woman's clothes that do not come with bizarre unusable accessories. The suit I bought yesterday? I got home and realized that those pockets on the jacket are actually not pockets and all they do is hold up the belt- which is just plain stupid. I also hate those flower thingies they are putting on blouses and jackets right now that you can't cut out because they're all stiched in too much and it would make a hole.

I will design women's clothes with pockets and especially inside jacket pockets because that's the best place to store items without ruining the line of your clothes.

I will design from fabrics that repel dirt and hair and that can be washed in a washing machine and hung up to dry. (Oh- and that one isn't a dream- I have that suit- even though the jacket doesn't have pockets and the pants were only a million miles too long and rather wide- its made by Yansee Fugel. Seriously- wash and hang up. No Ironing.)

I will not sell my clothes in a "size run" so that when you see the suit all that's left is a size 4 jacket and size 12 pants.

And there will be lots of pieces- pants with pleats and flat fronts and long skirt and short skirt....And several jackets (Long, short with waist, short and boxy) so that each figure will be able to get a look that flatters them. -- Do you remember when Banana Republic used to do this with their silk suits? I miss those days.

I will design for the 90% of people in the US who do not live in New York or LA. Because a formal shorts suit just isn't going to cut it in Alabama. Nor are Huge bell bottoms bigger than your shoes (Thank you banana Republic). Nor is a waist so low that when you bend over we know your underwear preference. (BR and Ann Taylor) Nor pants cut so tight you have a camel toe. Nor satin. Nor see through blouses.

My clothes will come in nice quiet colors- and cool subtle paterns like men's suits.

This has been a public service announcment.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Then there are the real moments...

I usually write about philosophical, funny or frustrating things. You have been told, and I will reiterate, that the stuff I write about clients is even less truthful than that guy who wrote A Million Tiny Pieces.... so you don't hear about my real cases.

But today my client was kidnapped from a public place right before meeting with me.

I won't tell you more than that- but you have to know that there are the normal legal squabbles and then- there's real life. Which is why I'm sitting here praying that she actually choose to go back to him and wasn't kidnapped- because I'd rather be gullible than jaded.

So, please send your prayers, or whatever your personal mojo is, to her.

Philosophy for today and what's happening in the office...


I would think that after more than 200 years this would have dawned on us as a people.

This is why laws must be written so that they can be applied flexibly.

This is why we must have Judges, defense attorneys and prosecutors.

This is why (at least some) legislators need to be lawyers.

I just needed to say that. On a much less philosophical subject-

Today when I arrived at work at 9 AM I had 9 messages from a babymomma of a client. They occurred from 5:05 PM to 8:00 AM. After listening to all of them I called my friend who covered for me at the arraignment yesterday to figure out what happened. (I had a funeral.) Before I could even get off the phone said babymomma came tearing into my office dukes up ready to fight with me. I tried to explain to said babymomma that no, I cannot get her man out of jail. Yes, I know she needs his help, and that he has to get a job before coming up on the felony charges he has pending at the County if he wants probation- but he should have thought of that before getting a DUI a mere three weeks after pleading guilty to the first. Judge has a policy- if you get picked up less than a year after DUI 1- you WILL serve your entire suspended sentence. Dude- IT IS NOT MY FAULT THAT YOU DID NOT UNDERSTAND THAT WHOLE DUI/ PROBATION THING. IT IS NOT MY FAULT YOU WERE DRIVING 75 IN A 40, DRUNK, WITHOUT A LICENSE, INSURANCE OR BABYSEAT MERE WEEKS AFTER YOUR LAST CONVICTION.

PLUS- it doesn't help his situation that the jailers had to put him in solitary and that he's been hanging out nekkid and screaming at everyone. This does not inspire confidence in the Judge that releasing you is a good idea.

Your babymomma says its her fault if it makes you feel better. Unfortunately, this is not a legal excuse. And, No, telling the Judge you have to get out of jail on this charge because you have felony charges pending that you have to take care of IS NOT GOING TO IMPRESS HIM.

Sigh. I prepared the motion for his release pending a trial. He just really thinks that if he can just talk to the Judge the Judge will see his side of things.

I will not say but will think: The Judge does not feel persuaded by your mack. The Judge does not "know what you's sayin'. " And no, it is not Double Jeopardy to violate your probation.

Oh, and as for my other former client whose letter I received from the jail today- you still owe me money and I don't think a copy of the Uniform mandatory Disposition Act is going to get you sprung from city jail where you're being held on a failure to pay warrant. How long will it take for me to explain jurisdiction and Statute applicability to him?

Wednesday, February 08, 2006


Um, yeah, I was all worried that my bestest friend said she commented on a post and I couldn't find the comment and then I figured out that I did this when I was having trouble with unwanted comments/ spam.

Heh. And I think I'm soooo smart.

So, I've let most of the comments through and your words and thought should appear in the proper places.

Sorry folks, and thanks for thinking of me and giving me your input. I greatly appreciate it.

Write the letter...

Write the letter...but don't mail it!

Didn't your Daddy teach you anything? Check out this post that demonstrates what happens when you actually mail the letter.... Thanks to Skelley for posting this.


Tuesday, February 07, 2006

One thing leads to another....

So you saw on the reading list The Life of Chairman Mao which I have now finished and passed along to a friend whom I thought would enjoy it....

... And so Chinese history is something I'm checking out today. I found a cool blog: http://www.zonaeuropa.com/culture/index.htm Which features really great translations from Chinese current events. So I'm reading along and I hit a piece about a libelous novel. I was so much better able to understand the issues covered in the novel because I now had a historic context in which to place the conflict. In this case, I knew Jiang Quing was Mao's wife and that in the begining of The Cultural Revolution she was parlaying her influence with Mao into power and influence over other areas- specifically universities and literature and culture. (The CR was originally intended to be confined to the intellectuals.) At any rate, it was cool, because before I wouldn't have understood the dynamic there. Nor would I have understood the Ultra-Leftist Vs Ultra-Right issues- which I now have a (somewhat) greater understanding of. (The meaning and assignation as ultra-left or Ultra -right is changeable and depends entirely on who is defining the terms. Just think of them in differing in who must be purged prior to achievement of a just Society.) Its kind of hard to comprehend this battle when one is raised from an American perspective. I have never actually had an argument over the relative leftness or rightness of Marxism v Leninism v Stalinism. Silly me, I thought they were all ultra-Left. In America, Socialism is either a) a stop on the road to Communism or b) the death knell to our independent spirit or c) Social Security- and what's wrong with the world today depending on whom you ask. (Kind of how I can't figure out why poor Americans will continue to vote for the Republican party.)

Which leads me to:

One piece of information leads you to comprehend something new in your perception of a scene you've studied before- and amazingly, the perspective you had before that you believed was proper and valid you now see to be incomplete and/or not as valid.

I have read about the Cultural Revolution before- but now that I have far more insight into what prompted Jiang Quing to begin her reforms that turned into the Cultural Revolution.

I think just as Americans have trouble understanding the psyche and motives of our Middle Eastern and Muslim counterparts we also have a great deal of trouble comprehending the Oriental mindset. The language constructs of Kanji, which are much more representative that English, train the brain to think differently- to perceive differently.

A good example from the book- Mao is speaking with...Some Westerner... And the person asks him how it feels to be him. The translator translates directly a phrase which meant that he felt like a lonely man standing by himself (I can't remember exactly.) The trasnlator did not have a classical education and so did not recognize that lines from a poem that he was quoting that implied a rather different picture- the lonely leader on the mountain top who must do that which must be done even if it made him unpopular and that was why his people needed him. The Connotation was soooo much greater than the denotation. This is the essence of the Chinese language- multiple meanings of words and phrases which are communicated through context and emphasis.

So, I guess this essay doesn't really have a point- except that comprehension leads to new perspectives and understanding. Knowledge begets knowledge.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Believing your clients

The first really amazing thing that happened to me as an attorney was realizing how many people lie. I mean, boldfaced, obvious, its sitting right there in front of you, lie. They lie when you tell them that you can't help them if you don't know the truth. They lie even when the truth would not hurt them. They lie about stupid unimportant things.

I started thinking about this after reading that the Virginia prisoner who was executed and maintained his innocence to the end- has been shown to have had his DNA present at the scene. (Ok, I was being euphemistic- they found his sperm in her vagina at a 19 million to 1 chance it was his.) Now, an awful lot of people believed him- to the extent that the governor agreed to the testing to, I dunno, assuage his guilt, or shut the protesters up.

Don't get me wrong- I know a lot of innocent people have been found guilty in our system. I totally applaud the innocence project. I believe that ALL cases in which DNA evidence present should have that DNA tested and the results made available to both sides. After all, the goal of our judicial system is not, as some believe, to convict, but rather to achieve justice. And Justice, in my way of thinking, demands that ALL evidence be examined- not just that which the prosecutor wants examined. But that's a different blog for a different day.

Here in the trenches, lying is a more immediate and less evidence dependent sort of thing. I have had people who were personal friends of mine lie to my face. I have had clients try to con me. I have listened to lies that were so obvious a Venn diagram would expose them... And those are just the ones I know about.

I have a way of dealing with lies or what I believe to be lies. First, I recognize that no one wants to come clean and admit they lied. You have to set them up to tell you the truth. Sometimes I can tell them there must be a mistake here somewhere and follow that by showing them how obvious the lie is. They can then tell me "I made a mistake" which is much more palatable. I can also go with the whole, "If the other side can prove X, it will mean Y for you and it might be prudent for you to not take that risk." I call this the "easy out." My client can still complain about "the system," but doesn't compound his/her lie. For example, "Well, I understand Mr. Doe that you only had two beers, but the officer has a video tape of you weaving in and out of traffic, you blew a .16 on the breathalizer, and you pissed on the officer's vehicle when he pulled you over. It is my opinion, based on this evidence, that you will be found guilty. I will gladly conduct a trial for you. When you loose you must put up a $ 500 cash bond to appeal. When you appeal this offer the prosecutor made will not be available. You will have a brand new trial in Circuit Court and this is the range of penalties the Court may impose at that time. If you plead guilty you do not have to say anything, the Judge will let the test stand as the reason for your plea and it will all be done.

Most of them take that offer when I put it that way...

I also use the "What will the other side say?" technique. I find this very effective. You hear a story that completely doesn't jibe with what you do know, and you just ask your client, "Well, what is the other side going to say happened?" I learn a lot of information from this question.

Mostly the lies are just annoying. The only time I get angry is when I get caught with my pants down in Court. For example, I ask someone, "Did the child's father give you any money directly?" and they answer, "No."

So then, Dad hands me a stack of signed receipts showing money he has given her.

And I have to go back and be like, "What in the world!?" and usually, they just shrug "Oh well, yeah, he did."

Or the family recently who told me Dad had died and couldn't pay child support. I asked for the death certificate. I did it nicely, but I was still pretty sad to see that I had come to that point- thinking someone would lie about their death to avoid child support.

I had a good one last week. Dad claims to make only $500.00 a month sitting for an elderly veteran. Grandmother, who has custody, has NOTARIZED copies of his hours for a convenience store and payments from a side business selling pirated CDs and DVDs. His lawyer comes back and is rolling her eyes because he tells her, "Yeah, I hang out there but he don't pay me or nothing- you know, he just does stuff for me and maybe gives me something to eat and some gas or something." We're both sitting there going "Huh, a man who spends 60 hours a week sitting in a store out of the goodness of his heart. Wow. What a great human being."

Oh and that Disabled veteran? Grandma had his obituary from when he died last December.

Lawyer and I make an agreement which kept his client from going to jail on perjury as well as contempt- and we just ignore the lying.

I have to walk that fine line between not believing a word that comes out of anyone's mouth and being gullible. Jaded or gullible....

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

What I'm reading...

Me Talk Pretty One day- David Sidaris -- funny, made me laugh outloud several times. Last essay didn't do it for me, but I enjoyed the others.

Pop-up Book of Phobias- Don't have it in front of me, so I couldn't tell you who wrote it but it was so much fun at Christmas. This is an Excellent coffee table book, or you can also use it to chase your more sensitive friends around with : ) It will make you squirm if you have any of the illustrated phobias....And I'm not just saying that because the person who gave it to me reads the Blog.

Why I Write by George Orwell: Great Penguin pocket edition. "Political language is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind." With a cover quote like this- how can you go wrong?

Wild Stories: Various. Haven't actually finished this one, but I love a lot of the writers.

The Life of Chariman Mao. Li. This was a score. It was written by his personal physician after coming to the US. My copy was signed and was still half price. (Gotta love the Booklegger.) This is easy to read, if a bit jumbled, and gives a good insight into the history that shaped the current incarnation of China. He does a great job of explaining the cultural issues, translation issues, and the personal life of one of the most successful/ brutal/bizarre/ politically astute reformers/ megalomaniacs in the world.

Jefferson After the Presidency. - 6th and final volume in the series. Won the Pulitzer prize in 1987. Great stuff if you, like 1/2 of the US, are descended from Jefferson. I Loved reading about my alcoholic fist fighting ancestors.

I also bought Rubyat of Omar Kayhan In a lovely 1937 edition because I didn't have it, and damnit, there are just some books one should own. Amusingly enough upon looking through the book I found a grocery list: Milk, cheese, bread, eggs, beer, cigarettes, cat food. Yep- that's all I need in life: A loaf of bread, a jug of milk, cheese, eggs, beer, smokes, cat food-- and thou.

And finally, as a gift, Bruce Chatwin's What am I doing here? If you haven't read this you must. A great travel/ short story/ autobiographical collection. Its a pity he's dead now because I love so much of his writing. Chatwin is one of those people you would call a renaissance man- although I'm afraid he knew rather more about certain things- which combined with a compelling personality leads to amazing experiences. He was at Sotherby's until being struck with hysterical blindness... I mean, who could make this stuff up?

Have a great day and happy reading.