Law in Hyperspeed

The ADDventures of a practicing attorney in a southern state. I hope those in the law and those with ADD can find some comfort and help in these postings. The only real person in this blog is the author. The people described in this blog mostly represent sterotypes of some of the characters I see in my travels.

Name:
Location: Southern, United States

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Other People Who Don't Take Themselves Too Seriously

As an ADD attorney, I'm always perhaps a little bored with life. I'm always looking for something to help entertain that overly active mind. Since I have a tendency to overanalyze things, I try not to take myself too seriously (otherwise I'd likely analyze myself insane). That's why I love the blog Blonde Justice, by a real life public defender in a large city. Her posts run from thankless clients to cheese sandwiches. There's enough there to keep my ADD brain busy for a long time.

The best thing about her is that she cares. Since the ADD population has such problems with impulse control, it not surprising that a large percentage of criminal cases involve people who are ADD. (Supposedly close to one-half of incoming prison inmates are ADD!) All I know is that her clients should be glad they have her as a lawyer.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Wired News: Brain Scans Arouse Researchers

I actually started doing a little reseach on lie detecting. I wanted to see if there had been any advances in studying the brains of people who tell falsehoods. I just happened upon this article: Wired News: Brain Scans Arouse Researchers.

Interesting stuff. Kinda reminds me of this joke I heard ... Oh never mind.

Monday, December 20, 2004

Guidelines for Child Custody Evaluations in Divorce Proceedings

If you've ever been involved in a custody dispute, you may have had to deal with a court appointed psychologist. The following guidelines are suggested by the American Psychological Association as appropriate for any psychologist conducting an evaluation in connection with a child custody dispute.

Guidelines for Child Custody Evaluations in Divorce Proceedings

Friday, December 17, 2004

Divorce: Coping With The Family Law Process

This article gives sound advice on coping during a divorce. Worth a look. Divorce: Coping With The Family Law Process | Family Resource (FamilyResource.com)

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Why We Need Lawyers

"The first thing we do," said the character in Shakespeare's Henry VI, is "kill all the lawyers." Whether you like lawyers or not, we do serve a function in society. One of those functions is to make sure that the average person is not oppressed by other people in power. Sure, some lawyers take advantage of their ability and then turn around and oppress people in a different way. That's a post for another day.

What started this post was a recent event in my life. First, a little background might fill in some details. As an ADD person, life presents its own unique stresses. The concentration required to maintain focus in the world does create its own internal stress. Add to this the frustrating and painful inability to help a dear friend who was suffering and you have one fairly edgy lawyer.

Each morning I take my 13 year old son (who is yet another source of stress!) to school. He's actually a good kid and is in the gifted and talented program. The GT kids go to a school that does not have direct bus service so most parents take their kid to school in a car. The cars arrive at the school and queue in two lines in a parking lot. The school district has a contract with the sheriff in the next county (the district has parts of two counties) for security at the school.

I arrive on morning in a long line of cars. Since it's getting close to the bell for the kids and the line is a little long, most of the kids get out of the cars while back in the line. My child does as do most of the cars ahead and behind me, except one. The car right in front of me. When that car stops to discharge their children they start to exit on the right hand side of the car. Since we are in a parking lot, there are parking spaces to the left of the car. Those spaces are empty so I can get around the car and save myself the couple of minutes waiting for this car to discharge their children. Passing this car will not in anyway pose a safety hazard, so I decide to go ahead and get past this car.

Well, my friend the local sheriff (who will now be referred to as "The Man") takes a certain umbrage at my maneuver. So he proceeds to flag me down and give me a lecture. OK, I admit I was in no mood for a lecture. I'm a responsible adult. I know what I just did was safe. I'm stressed, need to get down to court, and just frankly not in the mood to be dressed down by The Man.

I roll down my window and tell him that what I did was not in any way a problem. He obviously disagrees. I tell him that I don't really need to hear his opinion on this matter. It then starts to go downhill. I tell him he's being a jerk. He then asserts more of his "Man"ness and makes me produce my driver's license. I do it, but by now my blood is just about to boil.

Mind you, I'm in a parking lot on school district property. I committed no criminal offense. I don't believe I did anything even remotely unsafe. As this melodrama continues its downward spiral, The Man is starting to get really angry. I'm not being the compliant "gee, I'm sorry deputy", "shucks, you right, sir" that he expects me to be. We're both a couple of angry testosterone filled males having a quite heated discussion. Finally I ask him, "what are you going to do, HIT me in front of a bunch of witnesses?" His reply is, "No, but I just might arrest you." Me, "FOR WHAT, you can't do that."

Here's the scary part. The Man tells me to "Turn around and put my hands on the car". This is police speak for I'm going to put handcuffs on you. I look him straight in the eyes and tell him, "Fine, I'll do that. I want you to understand that as soon as you do that, I'll be suing you, the school district, and the sheriff's department. You'll most likely lose your job here. Don't think I won't because I'm a LAWYER."

Well, needless to say I was not handcuffed that day. I think the moral of this story is that I wasn't embarrassed, humiliated, or jailed solely because I was a lawyer and could back up the threat I made. What if I had been just another stressed father at the school. This deputy sheriff had no reason to arrest me other than I didn't want to hear his lecture. He would have arrested me just to assert his power over me. Solely because he could do it.

No one is without sin. I certainly am not. My profession certainly is not. All lawyers are human. It is a good thing that most lawyers are strongly motivated by a sense of righteousness and justice. Putting the bad guy in jail and defending someone wrongly arrested are both in defense of justice. The bad part is that those who defend the wrongly arrested also must defend those who are truly guilty. Both the public defender and the district attorney believe strongly that their job is a necessary part of justice. Before I ended my discussion with The Man, I told him that what he was trying to do was wrong. It was destructive to people's lives. That he should think about what he tried to do.

I don't know if I had any affect on him. I still see him most days. Our exchanges are neither pleasant nor angry. I decided to let the whole incident go. I hope that in our encounter we both learned something about ourselves that day. I know that I did.


Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Birthdays and other special days

In some cultures, an individual's birthday is not celebrated. In the southern US, birthdays are a big deal. We look forward to our friend's birthdays to tell them how special they are to us. We want to celebrate another year of their life. We want to show them how much they mean to us.

It must be tough to have a December birthday. You're always competing with the other birthday that is celebrated in December.

That birthday on December 25 is why I make a big deal out of my friends' birthdays. The greatest gift we have to give is love.

So, happy birthday all you December people.

Frontline: medicating kids | PBS

Taking medication for ADD is a very controversial subject. My own personal experience tells me that any parent who doesn't medicate their child is doing them a grave disservice. Adderal helps my ADD brain enormously. Doesn't solve all of my ADD issues, but it sure helps.

The following web page is a great resource for those parents who are agonizing with the decision. In usual PBS fashion, it honestly presents both sides of the issue. Highly recommended.

frontline: medicating kids | PBS

Saturday, December 11, 2004

The Power of Now

Lately, I've been spending some time digging into the book "The Power of Now" by Eckart Tolle.

So, what's this book like? Here's an excerpt from Tolle's website:

To make the journey into The Power of Now we will need to leave our analytical mind and its false created self, the ego, behind. From the very first page of this extraordinary book, we move rapidly into a significantly higher altitude where we breathe a lighter air. We become connected to the indestructible essence of our Being, "the eternal, ever present One Life beyond the myriad forms of life that are subject to birth and death." Although the journey is challenging, Eckhart Tolle uses simple language and an easy question and answer format to guide us.
For me turning off the mind and losing the ego are two of the biggest problems in my life.

Eckhart has some intersting things to say about true love. The thing I like about Tolle's work is that his spiritual truths work for whatever religious tradition you have. Sometimes he's a little too deep for me, but that only helps keep me engaged.

Friday, December 10, 2004

The Top 10 Tips for Managing Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) in Couples

For all my fellow ADDers out there and for all their significant others, here are some tips for making the relationship work. Personally, the two that have presented the most problems in my relationship are #2, the "nagger/avoider" dynamic (I'm the king of passive agressive behaviors), and #7, the "blame game" (This is a big problem in divorces).

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Death of the Soul

Often I see situations where a person "kills" themselves. What I'm talking about is not where the person actually commits suicide. It's more insidioius and painful to watch. It is when the person kills their soul.

When you see the beauty that lies within a person slip away, it is difficult to watch. You see the vibrance and wonder of a person become a hollow shell. I believe that God loves each one of us. That God truly treasures our souls.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Rescuing the Advocate

I know that one of the reasons I became a lawyer was to try to correct injustices done to others. I've often had the problem of becoming too wrapped up in cases or issues. Especially when I really feel the pain of the person I'm trying to protect. When that pain moves something so deep in me, I feel that I MUST do something about it.

The frustration comes when despite how much you want to do something, you can't. It becomes even worse when you feel that you may have done things that made the situation worse.

Over the years of being a lawyer, I've learned to be more detached. Despite my best efforts, there are times I can't remain detached. That's when the advocate becomes the one who needs rescuing.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Voicelessness and Emotional Survival

Parents in divorce cases often are so wrapped up in their problems that they can barely take care of themselves let alone their children. The child feels they have no "voice". A child's voice is their self-confidence that they can be heard and can have an effect on their own environment.

Dr. Richard Grossman writes some compelling stuff on his website. Many of the problems today with teenage depression are a result of this problem. I recommend that all parent read this to help give their children this sense of "voice". If you were a voiceless child, read his site and remember that there is a light at the end of the road. Just take the walk day by day.


Monday, December 06, 2004

Parental Alienation

Parental alienation is a controversial topic in the family law profession. Richard Gardner coined a term called parental aliention syndrome. This is where a pattern of alienation becomes so severe that it reaches the stage where it should be classified as a distinct psychological syndrome. The diagnosis of parental alienation syndrome ("PAS") is controversial because it is not officially recognized in the DSM manual used in psychology/psychiatry. It is also controversial because the majority of alienating parents are women.

Family law attorneys know that alienating behaviors take place by both sexes. I've personally seen cases with PAS as described by Dr. Gardner. Here is another site that deals with the same issue.

I believe that parental alienation is child abuse. A child's identity is tied to both parents. The alienating parent is destroying part of that child's identity.

Sunday, December 05, 2004

Help for Adult Victims of Child Abuse

If you've been a victim of child abuse, you should check out this site. Many people who were mistreated as children don't realize the impact it now has on their lives. Many even may repress their memories of abuse.

Saturday, December 04, 2004

Divorce Tips for Parents

Here are tips for divorcing parents. The two I see most often violated are Rule #9, "Speak positively about the other parent," and Rule #10, "Allow your children to stay children."

Bill Feguson knows about this well. He used to be a divorce lawyer. His site is full of useful information.

ADDers and Spirituality

Lately I've been doing a lot of blog cruising. Seeing the struggles of others makes me more human.

Which brings me to the topic of ADD and spirituality. There are several people in our church choir who are ADD. All wonderful people. All very spiritual people.

I came upon this post in blog space. Chris is on a journey and thinks she might be ADD. What struck me about the rest of Chris' blog was how much her spirituality is a part of her life. Later in her blog she posts this prayer:

Here am I, Lord,
I've come to do Your will.
Here am I, Lord,
in Your presence I'm still.

Lord - help me to see, to hear, to smell, to listen... to be still.

For an ADDer, this is one of the struggles of spirituality. Our struggle is to be still in our minds and to feel God's presence.

I've met many ADDers who are very spiritual. Perhaps its because of our doubts about ourselves that we feel a greater need for God's grace.

What's It Like to Go Through a Divorce?

I've been divorced and it can be pure hell. Here's someone who is honestly posting their thoughts as they are going through the process. I really liked the part where he's trying to change his blog from "all angst, all the time."

The End of My Marriage?

Friday, December 03, 2004

Be Careful Exactly What You Ask an ADDer

This funny post comes from the Adult-Add-Issues group on Yahoo.  
My partner asks, "What are you thinking?" all the time. I KNOW you are
supposed to answer, "How much I love you, pooky." but, I often find
myself telling the truth. Cause relationships are SUPPOSED to be built
on honesty. But, it always sounds horrible.

"What are you thinking?" on a train through the Casades.

"How many people have used this huge unspoiled wilderness to hide the
bodies of their victims." True, albeit fleeting, thought of the exact
moment of the question.

Not exactly what he was looking for. Boy am I glad that the Nurontin
is helping with the bizarre thoughts. But, I am still going to answer
wrong on that question.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

The Blessings and Curses of Thinking Too Much

Recently, a special friend of mine told me that I think too much. I think that she recognized this because she also thinks too much. So, soon I was thinking too much about how my brain really does think too much.

I know that this is one of my ADD traits. A hyperkenetic ADDer can't physically keep their body still. They have both an overactive mind and an overactive body. I am an "inattentive" ADDer. This means that while my body may be inactive, my mind is often going one hundred miles an hour.

Many ADD traits can be both a blessing and a curse. The blessing of thinking too much is that I am often a whir of ideas. I take things apart in my mind. I look for new perspectives in my cases. I'm constantly looking for new ways of approaching things and new ways of dealing with things. The blessing of this overactive mind is that it makes me a better lawyer.

This same trait has a darker side. It is the curse of sometimes thinking too much. When you hear or see something bad, you sometimes just can't let go of it. The same friend that told me I think too much also told me of how her father would say destructive things to her. This started the thought process that lead to my post about the best interests of the child. It also brought out of my mind cases and things that I had long stored away. Cases about child abuse. Cases about the evil that parents often inflict on their children. While it's sometimes good to not forget those cases, the thoughts also bring back the hurt that seeing and hearing those things does to one's soul.

These cases made me think a lot about what it must have been like for this beautiful friend of mine. How a lovely and innocent girl must have felt when her father said the things that he did to her. How the pain and hurt must have must have at times seemed unbearable. It also made me admire my friend for being able to say that she still cared for her father in spite of the things that he had said.

In the end, thinking too much made me realize some of the reasons I became a lawyer.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Special Education Lawyer

There is a high incidence of comorbid learning disorders such as dyslexia in people with ADD. I'm in the process of having my son checked right now.

As I started to look into the legal issues, my head started to spin: 504, IEP, IDEA, and of course the issue of getting a free appropriate public education or FAPE. That's why it's a good thing to know people who know this area of the law and can give sound and practical advice.

Sanford Hausler has a blog called the FAPE page that covers issues related to special education. I'm watching right now how my school district handles the evaluation of my son. It's good to know someone in case I need to get some quality advice.

Are You ADD? Part 2

Here's some links to some different ADD tests.

PDF Tests
Test #1
Test #2
Test #3


Amen Online Questionaire (self-scoring)

None of these, by themselves, proves that you have ADD. All these tests can do is tell you that you have many of the traits of an ADD person.

If these tests indicate that you might be ADD, go to a doctor and find out for sure. It just might radically change your life.

In the Best Interests of the Child

Part of my practice is family law. I have a love-hate relationship with that part of my practice. I know that a big part of who I am is due to this part of my practice.

The "Best Interests of the Child" is one of those phrases that family lawyers have to use. Since lawyers are supposed to help see that justice is done (at least in the ideal world), we are supposed to put that issue first.

The difficult part is that many in the profession are whores. Show me the money baby. These lawyers only care when the money is there. They'll do anything while the money is there. However, once you're out of cash, you're out of luck. Another difficulty with my profession are those lawyers who believe they are paid to win no matter what. They will try to win no matter what path of destruction they leave behind.

I want to believe that I'm not that way. I often have this third person detachment from my cases. I try to help my clients see that maybe their way is not in the best interests of the child. I'll tell them when I disagree with what they're doing.

I see so many adults do awful hurtful things to their children. This is a large part of the "hate" side of my family law practice. Sometimes they maybe don't realize they're doing it. Other times they just don't care. All they care about are their adult feelings and their personal hurt.

Many of my clients were those hurt children. They still hurt. Many don't realize or are afraid of just how hurt and wounded they are. They wonder why they fail at their relationships. They relive feelings of abandoment and hurt, but often don't realize they are doing this.

When I hear stories of adults who do or say awful, mean things to their children, I get angry. I want to do something about it.

When I hear someone talk about the awful, mean things that were done to them, it moves something deep in my soul. I guess it touches a very deep part of me.

If only people would step back, look outside themselves, and try to look for the best interests of the children.