Wednesday, October 30, 2013

More about Brooks

So recently, I ended up having a "discussion" on Twitter (if you can ever actually have a real discussion in 140 characters or less) about the Brooks decision, which I previously discussed over here. Because the conversation required more than 140 characters, I said that I'd blog more about it, since goodness knows I love any reason to run my damn mouth about things. 

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Welcome to the Crazy Cat Lady Club

This morning I was leaving my apt & I heard a cat crying & meowing. It sounded like it was a young cat, so I paused to try to find where it was coming from. I checked the garbage dumpster, thinking maybe the cat was trapped or had been thrown in the garbage. But the cat wasn't in there. Then I saw a little gray cat nearby. I tried to coax him over but he didn't want to come over, so I left.

When I came back, the gray cat was hanging by my apt stairs. I tried again to coax him over, but he was scared & hid under the stairs. I went up to my apt & got a bowl of food & water & brought them outside for the cat. I set them down near where the cat was hiding & then went & sat a bit away from the food.

Eventually, the cat crept out of hiding & went over to the bowls & began eating the food. I waited for the cat to finish eating. I sat there until he was done & then he slowly began to make his way towards me. I reached my hand out & waited for him to come over. He carefully & cautiously came over by me & sniffed my hand. After a couple of minutes, he started to headbutt my hand & legs. Then he started to purr & rub against me.

He let me pet him for a bit & was rolling around, purring & making happy noises. I was able to get him to let me pick him up & bring him inside the apt building. It was obvious he was a stray, since he wasn't fixed, he was very skinny, & his fur was dirty. He also had a big open wound on the base of his tail that looked painful & like it could get infected if it wasn't treated. He also looked young, probably no more than a year old. So, I brought him inside to get warm & to get some more food.

He was purring the whole time I carried him in. I was a bit nervous he might freak out & claw or bite me, but he was very calm. I set out another set of bowls of food & water & a makeshift litter box for him. I got a few of my cats' toys, a box of bath wipes, & a brush & brought them into the hall. I didn't want to bring him in my actual apt since I didn't know if he had anything contagious that he might pass on to Ward & Hubert, so I brought everything in the hall.

I sat down & let him explore for a bit. Then he came over to me & started rubbing his face on me. He let me brush him & use the wipes to clean him up a bit. He was super affectionate & snuggly & kept purring loudly. Any time I walked through the hall, he would follow right by feet. He seemed to know I was the one who was responsible for getting him warm & fed & was trying to show me his appreciation.

I decided to call him Simon. He is currently hanging out in the hall for the evening. I go out periodically to visit him & make sure he is doing ok. I will have to bring him to the vet to have his injury checked out & make sure he is otherwise healthy. He is incredibly sweet & very loving.

If the vet gives Simon a clean bill of health, no contagious diseases or other long-term problems, I might just keep him. I know that having 3 cats breaks my own rule about the amount of cats I can have w/o becoming a crazy cat lady. But I didn't seek out this cat; he found me. And he seems very attached to me already so he basically chose me. He is just such a sweetie, I don't know that I could give him up to a shelter now.

So, I am probably damning myself to a life of single spinsterhood by owning 3 cats (not to mention seriously limiting my housing options) but I am not sure that I care. He is might be worth the spinster life.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

The Brooks Decision--coercion isn't even a real thing

Oh, how the Minnesota Supreme Court disappoints lately with its terrible, terrible, completely inane rulings. Yesterday was no exception. Yesterday they delivered a nonsense, ridiculous opinion that doesn't make any sense w/ already established case law. Because apparently, the Court isn't interested in making sense. 

Yesterday's decision was about a recent US Supreme Court case, Missouri v. McNeely and a couple of Minnesota cases, referred to as Brooks. Prepare yourself, kids, because this is gonna be a lengthy discussion.  I will do my best to not talk like a douchebag lawyer about it, so that everyone can understand how stupid this decision really is--I'm thoughtful like that. 

So, here's the situation: 

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Lawyers & business owners are different things.

I ran into a former client of mine last night while I was out at a bar w/ some friends (drinking my usual Coke bc Mormon). This client had 2 felony files for theft by swindle, when really, it was a contract dispute and not a criminal offense. I tried to persuade the prosecutor of this but he didn't agree, so I moved to dismiss both files for lack of probable cause. I argued it was a contract dispute, there was no swindle or trick by my client, and that it should be handled in civil court. Ultimately the court agreed with me & dismissed both files.

So client comes over to say hi & thank me again for my help on the files. He tells me he thinks I am very smart & "feisty" & I am very good at what I do. And then he asks the question that every client who thinks I am a good attorney asks me: "When are you going to open up your own firm?" I told him I wasn't planning on doing that & he said I should really consider it bc I was very good @ my job.

I have always found that particular question somewhat perplexing, for a couple of reasons. First, there is this rampant stereotype that public defenders are terrible attorneys. From what I know, my clients think highly of me & the work I do. This helps chip away at that stereotype, which is good. And if all "good" lawyers left public defense, what then? The stereotype would be true! There has to be some good public defenders so that people who can't afford an attorney can still get quality representation.

Second, I went to school to be a lawyer. I didn't go to business school, I went to law school. I want to practice law. I want to be in court, duking it out. I want to be writing motions & doing legal research. I don't want to bill clients. I don't want to handle client funds & specialty trust accounts for those funds. I don't want to have staff, like a paralegal or receptionist, that I have to do payroll for and whatnot. I don't want to deal w/ malpractice insurance or advertising or paying taxes quarterly or any of that. I want to be a lawyer & I want to spend my time doing legal stuff, not business stuff.

There is so much more to opening a firm than people realize. It's not just a matter of being a good lawyer; it's also about running a business & having employees & billing clients & blah, blah, blah. And a good chunk of time has to be dedicated to making the business run smoothly & keeping that stuff in order. Which is not at all what I wanted to do when I grew up.

I want to lawyer. I want to do the stuff lawyers do, not the stuff business owners do. Plus, there is the other things I get to not worry about since I am an employee: I get paid vacation & sick time; I have health insurance (for free, since I am a single adult) which I don't have the luxury of going without thanks to my myriad of health problems; I can pass off problems to my boss instead of dealing w/ them myself; I have a consistent paycheck & never need to worry about whether I will make money or not; I don't have any overhead expenses like file folders, computers, office rent, pens, paper, business cards, etc.; I don't have to bill clients or take them to court if they don't pay; I don't have to buy malpractice insurance; and so on.

It's nice to be able to do exactly what I wanted to do when I grew up. I wanted to practice law. I wanted to be a lawyer. Specifically, while in law school, I determined I wanted to be a public defender. I have the exact job I wanted right out of school, so why would I give that up? Especially when I never wanted to be a business owner?

Being a good lawyer doesn't mean I'd be a good business owner. And maybe part of the reason I'm able to get things done for my clients is because I don't have to worry about the business side of things & I can just devote my time to being a lawyer.

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

I can't even understand this.

Sometimes it completely blows my mind what I do for a living. The gravity of my job never escapes me & I always appreciate the importance of doing a good job on my clients' cases. But so often I end up working out a plea agreement for most cases. But winning this trial is one of those moments where I can't help but be overwhelmed by what my job entails.

I had a client facing very serious charges. There was a very good offer on the table, but ultimately my client decided not to accept it. It was a HELL of a gamble. His exposure at trial was 10-15 years in prison. I cross-examined the state's witnesses, presented our witnesses, and argued the case. And at the end of the day, all the work I did in the case kept a man out of prison.

The government wanted to put this guy in prison for 15 years & I stopped it from doing that. That is CRAZY! I saved 15 years of this guy's life. I don't know that I will ever be able to fully grasp the enormity of that. It's so huge. And I don't feel like I am some rockstar attorney who always knocks them out of the park, so I am still amazed & overjoyed when I win. Especially something like this!

I may not be able to fully wrap my brain around it, but it feels fucking fantastic!!!


Not guilty on my trial from last week!! Sooo excited!!! Sooo thrilled!!!

Sunday, October 06, 2013

Time For Me To Fly??

I keep thinking about moving away. It crosses my mind like 2-3x/week. It seems so appealing, like I could restart my life & be this whole new person. But I can't tell if I am thinking about moving bc I really want to actually move or if I am thinking about it bc I am looking for something to shake things up. Like would I really be happy living in another state? Or am I just wanting to change something about my circumstances in general? It's hard to say.

The idea is certainly appealing. I don't like being in a small town. It's never been my thing. And I would conceivably like to meet a guy again some day, but there aren't any in small towns in my area. So, the idea of moving to a city again, where I really belong, is really appealing. It would be nice to be in a place where not everyone is married w/ kids, which is exactly what it's like in a small town.

Plus, I like the idea of a re-do on life. This previous path didn't turn out how I wanted, so maybe I can just Etch-a-Sketch my life, shake the old away, & create something new. Have a fresh place where no one knows me & a fresh start.

I don't have anything keeping me here (other than my law license) and while I don't doubt that my friends & family would miss me, I can't think of anyone who would be deeply saddened by the thought of me not being around all the time. I could always come visit & people could see me when I was back. I don't think there is anyone who would go into a panic or be heartbroken or who would start crying if I announced that I was leaving. I don't have anyone w/ whom I have a deep enough connection for them to want me to stay. So, there really isn't anything or anyone that keeps me here.

Realizing that was actually a pretty lonely epiphany. All these people in my life but not one of them can I think of that would be really upset to see me go. I suppose that means my reluctance to & fear of getting close to people has paid off, but it still sucks to realize that. And as much as I say I want to keep people away, I do really want someone to be close w/ again who lives close enough to come be w/ me in a crisis.

But that's another topic for another time. For now, I have to keep figuring out if it's time for me to start over in a new state.

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

And now, we wait...

Waiting for the verdict. It's the worst part of trial ever...