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.

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Location: Southern, United States

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.


2 Comments:

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Anonymous grumpette said...

Taken from Wikipedia:

In his depiction of Cade's rebellion in Henry VI, Part 2 is the well-known line, "The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers." Although this is usually interpreted to be antagonistic to lawyers, others have seen that the text of the play makes clear that precisely the opposite meaning is intended. Cade seeks to cement his revolution by destroying the justice system.

7:32 AM  

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