01 January 2004

5 Interesting Events of My Legal Year

(1) I was actually able to use a quote from Holmes' The Common Law in a closing argument in a jury trial. It was in a case where the issue at trial was whether my client "knowingly and wilfully injured" a guard and the guard couldn't say whether my client meant to hit him (the guard had charged into the phone my client was swinging around himself). I stood up and started talking about how we lawyers read all the time and how I was forcing myself to read this old book by a famous judge. I allowed how I wasn't getting too much of worth from the book but that I'd stumbled over this one quote which applied to this case: "Even a dog knows the difference between being kicked and being stumbled over." It must have worked; the jury got rid of the felony.

(2) One of the local judges mispronounced my name for years. Lammers rhymes with hammers; he would always say "Lame (rhyme with same) ers." I was in court with a client who was absolutely bonkers. Relatively harmless, and not far enough gone that he didn't know the difference between right and wrong, but still absolutely bonkers (the kind of guy who calls, leaves a 30 minute message on voice mail, and says nothing concerning the case). As the case was wrapping up, the judge addressed some question to me: "Mr. Lame-ers, do you . . ." All of the sudden my client bounced forward and said, "Your Honor, my attorney's name is Mr. Lammers, not Mr. Lame-ers." The judge looked at my client and then at me and, without skipping a beat, continued, "Mr. Lame-ers, do you have any mitigation to present?"

But, you know what? From that day forward the judge has pronounced my name correctly.

(3) I got a job offer from Wolfram & Hart. As part of some new recruitment program they approached me. When I inquired as to why they were interested they stated that they were looking for honest lawyers and figured that since I am relatively poor I must be honest. I declined their offer but if any other firm out there is willing to hire me at a salary anywhere close and not require me to sign quite as long a contract please drop a line.

(4) Started bumping into federal agents and agencies as my practice expands. I've dealt with F.B.I. and D.E.A. agents but I think the most interesting thing concerned the Department of Homeland Security. My illegal alien client stood charged with grand larceny. When he arrived at court he pulled out a letter and handed it to me. It was a letter from the Department of Homeland Security telling him that he had to report whether he was convicted and if it was a felony or a misdemeanor. He was more worried about it then he was the court hearing. Of course, since he was an illegal alien he could probably have disappeared 5 minutes after the hearing and never be heard from again. Oh yeah, that letter made me feel like our homeland is more secure. Next thing you know they'll be sending letters to Osama asking him to self report his whereabouts and any illegal activities he might have been involved in.

(5) The federal building in Richmond houses magistrates, district courts, bankruptcy courts and the 4th Circuit. I'm sitting in the law library trying to figure out exactly how deep a hole my client is in when a young lady walks in with a severe black and white suit and her hair tied back so tightly it seemed to stretch her face back (and she was still kinda cute). She tells the librarian that she's a clerk from the 4th Circuit and she doesn't know where things are down here because she's accustomed to using their library. Then she asks the librarian where the Rules of the Virginia Supreme Court are located. I kid you not, for the next 5+ minutes they crisscross the library (it ain't that big) looking for them. About the fourth time they are going past me I look up and say, "If you're looking for the Rules they're in Michie's."1 They both looked at me confused so I elaborated, "The laws of Virginia." Again looks of non-comprehension. Suddenly, the clerk looks at me and says, "Oh, you mean the code."

"No, I meant the friggin' Great Charter." Alas, I didn't actually snap that answer back. Part of me really wishes I had but all I did was nod and they whisked off to complete their search. To this day I don't know if she realized how superior she sounded. I doubt it. Looking back, I figure it was just the light bulb coming on and her saying the word she expected to hear.

I was piqued at the time but now I find it more humorous than anything. A display of ignorance over something that a person who had been actually practicing in Virginia for more than a month would know - immediately followed by what appeared to be disdain over improper wording. Silliness. Anyway, it would've never even made it up here on the blawg except I couldn't think of a fifth thing to fill out this post before I go to bed. Ya'll have a good night, y'hear?

1 Until a couple years ago the sole publisher of Virginia annotated statutes was Michie's. West now publishes a better version but Michie's is the more widely used and everyone just refers to the annotated statutes as "Michie's." (pronounced Mickey's)

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