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he who said that 'talk is cheap' has never hired a lawyer
the day job i don’t usually talk about
by jeffrey d. walker
4.12.12
humor

I’ve openly discussed the years I spent chasing rock stardom here in my columns at IM. Less frequently do I discuss that my day job is being an attorney, which I’ve done for almost ten years now.

Why don’t I bring it up much? For one, I usually am obliged to omit most of the juicy details. Each of my clients entrusts to me certain confidences that I am ethically obliged to keep secret. I feel ok admitting items that we have filed in a Court (matter of public record at that point, after all). I have a few good stories from the past ten years I will sometimes pull out at parties, and I sometimes talk anonymously about facts I might be facing in an upcoming trial, to see what people think before I get to a jury. But there is a lot of stuff I keep quiet, if only because I have to.

Anyway, it’s hard to live up to the expectation people have in the abstract. Lawyering, for all the mean-spirited jokes made about its practitioners, is also somewhat revered. I would bet if you turned on basic cable right now, there are lawyers on at least three channels, either being depicted in a television show or a movie, or being reenacted on a true-crime drama show, or a real attorney being interviewed on one of the 24-hour news channels, or on CSPAN (43% of Congress is comprised of lawyers).

But mostly, I’m only interesting and important to one client at a time, trying to guide them through their criminal defense/personal injury/contract dispute/landlord v. tenant/civil rights violation/etc. matter.

But I did want to talk about two incidents that happened to me just this f***ing week, because I can’t think about anything else besides this and my kid’s flu, which really doesn’t make for a good story. So here we go:

The first item I want to discuss just because (whether there is a real point or not), if only to process the situation for myself. The second item, I’m going to discuss because it’s costing two friends their jobs (albeit one indirectly), and other people I know are upset, so I’m just going to say my piece about it and be done. These items are: (1) defending an accused rapist in a criminal trial; and (2) being asked to evict a local bar that I’m not naming, since I’m not looking to end up in a Google search about it.

First, in the rape trial, my client was found “not guilty” by a jury, so, there’s that. And honestly, I was convinced of my client’s innocence from very early in the process (not to imply that the trial was an easy thing to win, BTW).

But as soon as you read “rape” and “defending” in the same sentence, most of you had a negative reaction. A slight cringe, perhaps. Most people do, and that’s natural, and I’m used to that, even. Rape is a bad thing, if it happens. But a false accusation is also bad. So the cringes I can stare down unfazed.

But at this trial, there were these spectators, not my client’s friends, but at least two other camps of spectators that I am pretty sure were not in support of my client. They never spoke to me, didn’t look at me cross; one of them actually held the door for me on the way back from lunch. But, I could tell that they were probably there hoping for a different outcome. And they watched as I first characterized the event to the jury as being “…sex she later regretted…,” and not rape. And they watched as the logic of the complaining witness wilted under my cross-examination. And as I brought three witnesses who testified that there was no door on the room where she claimed to have been locked in by the alleged perpetrator.

They looked sort of disappointed in the beginning, and they seemed to during the course of the trial go from one sort of disappointed to another sort. It was weird. I'm not sure what I expected – maybe I was looking for a knowing "okay you got me" glance, at the end of it all. And maybe they did give me a look, and I missed it, since I was a little busy after all. But, I guess I am just confused about their lack of reaction, and I'm a little weirded out by them. And I'm sorry if you don't know me better, but it takes quite a bit weird me out.

I’m pretty sure that only if I could have produced a videotape showing them both laughing and a Hallmark card from each to the other thanking them for the great sex would these persons would have actually been convinced of my client’s innocence. But I had never before seen third parties so disheartened and unmoved by me doing my job successfully. And that's a first in ten years.

I told you there may not be a point to this.

The bar thing was more difficult. It was a straight landlord wanting a tenant who no longer had a lease to be terminated. I was hired to do it, and I did it. When the tenant’s representative contacted me, I tried to see if a settlement could be worked out, and it could not. I feel ok disclosing this much information, because the tenants have both posted a Facebook message disclosing all these facts, and there was a story in our local paper.

I’ll only add this comment. I felt a little sad about doing it – I’ve been there, my bands have played there, and I liked the place and all. But it was going to happen anyway, so it might as well have been me. Trust me when I say that most landlord/tenant disputes inevitably end up with the tenant gone, because the landlord is the owner. Keep that in your mind the next time you're in a lease dispute, will you?


ABOUT JEFFREY D. WALKER

A practicing attorney and semi-professional musician, Walker writes for his own amusement, for the sake of opinion, to garner a couple of laughs, and to perhaps provoke a question or two, but otherwise, he doesn't think it'll amount to much.

more about jeffrey d. walker

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