July 23, 2004

Vertical Ben, Vertical Ben...

Other current and former characters in the law shop will be introduced as we go along, but next, a tribute to Vertical Ben, the tallest lawyer in the Fifth Judicial District. I set him up pretty bad yesterday. I had a felony client, in custody, with a piddling little Driving Without Privileges out there, currently assigned to no one, thanks to our little problem with turnover (among them, recent un-retainees, Kim Possible and Dennis Kucinich). I say in passing I'll cover it, and judge sets Ben's trial for the a.m., DWP guy's trial for the p.m. Comes to pass that Ben's guy pleads out that a.m., so judge says, let's start the DWP trial, and as is my wont most mornings, I'm nowhere to be found. Ben introduces himself to the client, picks a jury without a file, tries the thing, and gets a Not Guilty. A true tribute to old-style P.D. winging-it. I know that if I tried the thing, I wouldn't have won it, where my knowledge of the case and my client's version (the Phantom Driver defense, a favorite back in the Albany Street courthouse) would have projected defeat and disbelief all over the box. But this way, Ben was fresh, and it became a fascinating voyage of discovery for the jury and the lawyer alike. A marvelous work and a wonder down in Courtroom 5.

(NLADA Parental Advisory: this is not the way it's supposed to be done, but when we're three p.d.'s covering the work of seven, the old seat-of-the-pants type of practice can come through in the crunch.)