December 5, 2008

An Education

There is nothing like the fast click-click-click-click of handcuffs behind someone you love. I would try to describe it, but I cannot. I just hurts. I suspect each of us experiences that moment just as severely, but in unique ways.

Supposedly, I have an education in the law.

And yet, I was more or less useless. Perhaps, my last minute plea to the judge got the bail to be decreased. But not enough.

All I know is that after taking 3/4 of a day off work to be at a criminal arraignment for someone I care about -- holy shit -- did I learn quite a bit.

I think I learned more about the reality of law in this country in that 6 hour session than I had in at least the last month of my practice. Perhaps the last 3 or even 6 months. I guess it depends on how important you think contract law is vis-a-vis criminal law.

Sitting there, watching the freedom of various actors be bartered and traded at a breakneck pace -- it seemed that criminal law was much more important.

Sure, most of what I learned wasn't actually law, it was norms: How to plea; How to ask for an offer; How to extend this date or that. But regardless, for me, who never sets foot in a courtroom, it was a world of difference.

Also, I realized how much privilege comes with the bar card. When push came to shove and the person I was there to support did not state their own good points at the bail setting and the Public Defender had not had time to learn them, I ran up, announced myself as a member of the bar and spoke. The judge gave me a nod of approval, as if to say, "good for you for being a supportive advocate." And then, he had me spell my name, repeat my points and referenced them as countervailing considerations in setting bail.

I think I helped, but I shook in my boots. Literally. (I was wearing boots with my suit.)

It was my first appearance in court as a member of the bar, my heart was racing and I have to assume my voice shook too.

I'm excited to return to a life of IP transactions.

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