29 January 2007

And then there's the yelling . . .

As a new lawyer at the Wise County Commonwealth Attorney's office I got my choices of where I wanted my office to be. I could set up shop in the stairwell, the hallway, a supply cabinet or the room across from the courtroom which used to be the smoking room. While the stairwell was tempting (it is, hands down, the quietest place I've found in the courthouse), I chose the office across from the circuit courtroom.

Actually, it isn't bad at all. It hasn't been the smoking room for a while and the court's maintenance people have done a pretty bang-up job of getting rid of the odors (replaced the carpet and painted everything over). So that's not been an issue. And I personalized the office. In fact, I thought I'd done a pretty good job of it until the lady who came to the office just before me (as the general district court prosecutor) was given an office which was in terrible shape and in very short order transformed it into something which looks like she had a professional decorator come in and make it over. I'm just not capable of that level of decorativeness.

Anyway, I've settled in and I'm happy with my office. I've only got two real complaints. First, my back wall is on the other side from the ladies' room and on the odd occasion I can hear toilets flushing (although not usually and I'm not sure what weird law of sound conductivity is responsible for that). The second and most annoying is the fact that my room is next to the room defense attorneys meet their clients in and the wall between ain't exactly thick.

Most of the time that plays out as me hearing things that sound like the adults in the old Charlie Brown cartoons: "Mmwaa mmwawawa" "Wawa" "Mwawawa". However, every so often someone insists on talking loudly and I can hear everything as clear as a bell. Obviously, this is a problem. At first, I would leave my office, but that is impractical - I have to be in my office to do all the paperwork pre and post trial. So, I started making sure I had music and podcasts on my computer or my Creative Zen player and usually have something playing in the background; if I don't have it going it's only a couple clicks away when I hear someone in the next room. I also starting spreading the word to defense attorneys so they'd know to keep their voices down.

However, not everyone seems to have gotten the word. I was sitting in my office a while back and had the music on when suddenly I hear a defense attorney in the room next door yell " . . . 72 years! You're facing 72 years! WHAT PART OF 72 YEARS DON'T YOU UNDERSTAND!?! You need to take the 6 months . . ." At this point I reached the speakers and cranked the sound up so I couldn't hear any more of the conversation - and immediately fell down, ROFL. It's good to know that I'm not the only person who's had that conversation (although, thankfully, I don't have to have them anymore).

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