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Monday, April 29, 2013

Thank you letter

April 29, 2013
Dear Mrs. PD,
I just wanted to write you and properly thank you for last August.  I have never really told you thank you for being so kind to me when I was upset.  When my only son was taken from the courtroom to jail I thought my heart was being ripped out of my chest.  I was confused, upset, and I felt deserted.  But you showed me a kindness that day I will never forget.  You didn't have to talk to me but you did.  You didn't have to comfort me, but you did.  You didn't have to be kind to me but you were.  You didn't have to be understanding and not judgmental but you were.  And I will always be thankful to God for putting you there that day.  I know He put you there that day for me.  He knew how upset I would be and He knew your heart.  Thank you for helping me that day and thank you for helping Client.  I believe he has come a long way since then.  I know God is working in his life and he will become the man God wants him to be.  It is through our mistakes and wrong turns that draw us to God.
God has put you where you are for a reason and I hope you continue to show people God brings to you the kind and loving spirit that you showed me that day.  You might be their only ray of sunshine.  I put off writing this for  long time, because of the craziness of life.  But every time God would lay that memory of you on my heart so I know that this letter is not only from me but it is from God also.  He wants you to know that you ARE making a difference and He is with you and loves you.  I pray you have a good week and God blesses you every day.
Always grateful,
Client's mom
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This morning I lay in my bed for 15 minutes after turning the alarm clock off, thinking about how I just can't do this anymore.  I lay there and said over and over again "tell me what to do, tell me what to do, tell me what to do."
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After a long, exhausting day in court, I head back to my office with the intention of closing my door and trying not to snap on anyone.  When I first noticed the bouquet of flowers lying across my desk I rolled my eyes and assumed it was from one of my clients who was trying to get fresh.  I opened the accompanying letter, retyped above, and I sat in my office and cried.
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It is the most beautiful thank you I have ever received.

Until next time,

Be blessed, be careful, don't confess and don't consent.

~LT

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Being Jonah

A few years ago I had a dream.  I was sitting in a little brown rowboat in the middle of a clear blue ocean.  All alone and going nowhere, just sitting.  I was looking down at myself and I could see a huge mouth, beyond the size of the rowboat, wide open and rapidly approaching the surface.  I was about to be swallowed by a REALLY big fish.  I woke up confused about what my dream could mean; partially because I am scared of the ocean and Lord knows there is no way in the world I would be in the middle of the ocean.

  Not in a boat, not on a goat, not eating oats, because I can't float....no thank you Sam-I-Am. 

The second reason my dream was confusing is because I did not see the link between myself and the prophet Jonah; I wasn't running from anything and God was not sending me on any great missions


Jonah was a...unique prophet.  His uniqueness stems not just from his reluctance to follow God's intended direction, but from his outright defiance, his stubborn nature and his unveiled anger.  Being the stubborn person he was, Jonah decided (I'm paraphrasing) "screw the Lord's command, I'm not up for that assignment" and he hightailed it out of town.  Doing the complete opposite of what he was instructed to do.  Jonah soon learns, you will walk the path you were destined to travel, it is up to you whether you get there by discipline or obedience.  Storms were sent, Jonah was thrown overboard, he prayed and was delivered.  The rest of Jonah's tale does not get any better, surprisingly his preaching works, but he is angry that bad people are shown mercy and upset that his comfortable resting spot is destroyed.  Jonah is not the prophet that most people think of when recalling 'great' prophets but Jesus Himself references Jonah when describing his future destiny.

Soooo....why the dream revelation and the little bible lesson on Jonah?  I realized this week that I am Jonah.  There are more days and nights that I do not want to be a public defender than there are where I am glad to hold the title.  As Jonah looked upon the people of Nineveh with disgust and a sense of loss, I often look at law enforcement, prosecutors, judges and, sadly, some of my clients with the same sentiment.  I am ashamed to admit, Dear Reader, that there are some nights that I am angry with God for placing me in this line of work.  And for making me incapable of turning away from it.  My "big fish" that keeps spitting me back on the path I was intended to travel is the 19 year old kid that I visit in jail because when his 14-year-old ex-girlfriend told him she was 18, he believed her.  I pack my bags and climb aboard the ship to Tarshish and then I see a guy brought into the courtroom, wearing an orange jumpsuit and shackles on his feet, simply because he drove with a suspended license, and my "big fish" has me sitting in the chair next to him trying to figure out how I can help.

I find that I am becoming Jonah because while I may be moderately good at what I do, while every now and then the judge, prosecutor or my client may even listen to me as the people of Ninevah did, a small part of me gets angry.  I'm angry that the officer who got caught lying on the stand, gets chewed out by the judge but then released to arrest more people and build a case on his lies.  I am angry with the prosecutor who refuses to make a reasonable offer simply because she has taken something my client allegedly did or said at the time of the offense as a personal affront to her as a human being.  I am angry with the judge that punishes the person who decided to exercise their right to remain silent, with a guilty verdict.  I'm angry with a country that could give a damn about indigent defense or the fact that I carry over 300 ACTIVE cases at one time. I am angry with the client that picks up new charges before I have even finished closing the last open file I had for them.

But mostly I am angry with myself.  I am angry with myself because I was warned not to take the work home with me, not to dream about it, shower with it, eat with it.  I was cautioned against skipping lunch, missing sleep and not taking care of myself as a result of getting engulfed in the lives of everyone riding on my back.  I was warned, but I didn't listen, and now I want to run. 

I find myself pacing in the middle of the night, defiant, reluctant and angry like Jonah; and like Jonah deciding "screw the Lord's command, I'm not up for this assignment."  Then the next morning, I wake up, put on my big girl clothes and head back into Nineveh.

Until next time,

Be blessed, be careful, don't confess and don't consent.

~LT

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Comic relief

Today I call out into the hallway for my client with the 1:30 p.m. appointment.  He stands up and walks towards me with this gloss over his eyes like he is lost.
We exchange pleasantries as we walk back to my office and once there, I offer him a seat.  He sits down and tells me that I am not what he expected.

Me:    What do you mean, what did you expect?

CL:    I was expecting you to be ...   ...   ... ugly.

Me:    O_o Huh?

CL:    Yeah man, I was expecting you to be ...   ...   ... not ... cute.

Me:    [awkward laugh] ookk, well, I guess that's a good thing that I didn't
           live up to your expectation??

We spend the next 30 minutes having 2 COMPLETELY different conversations.

Me:    Do I have your name spelled correctly here?

CL:    Are you married?

Me:    I have your social as xxx-xx-xxxx...

CL:    You have some very pretty eyes

Me:    Your date of birth is x, correct?

CL:    I should have taken a shower before I came.

Me:    Have you ever been granted YO before?

CL:    Don't I need your personal number in case I need to talk about my
          case after hours?

Yes, you read that correctly. YO.  As in "Youthful offender", as in UNDER 21.  This kid is in some serious big boy trouble and all he can think about is how he wishes he had taken a shower and put on some clothes rather than coming to see me right after the gym.  I try to explain to him that it would not make a difference how he came dressed because I do not date my clients, present or former.  His response?  "Can't they give me another lawyer?" lol

I really needed that laugh today.

Until next time,

Be blessed, be careful, don't confess and don't consent.

~LT