October 25, 2004

Tats that

Today in the courthouse, with shorts weather drawing to a close in southern Idaho, I saw a woman, not a client of mine. That is, I hope she wasn't anyone's client, or at least not on the criminal docket herself today. For there she stood, with professional - results - not - to - be - expected tatooed letters down her calves. Down the left leg: OUT. Down the right leg: LAW. Look, Your Honor, I'm an (sashay)OUT (sashay)LAW. It could be a trend: CRIM on one side, LAW on the other, perhaps.

All the same, much better than the skinhead I was assigned to years ago in Canyon County, after some White Pride asshats decided to terrorize some people on the north side of Nampa. This guy had a swastika covering the back of his empty shaved skull, and to prove he was a real hard Aryan brother, the symbol part was white, the filled-in area of the circle around it tattooed in solid black. Ow, it had to hurt, but it hurt much worse for my Vietnamese client who was in on some bad check charge, and had to sit next to the skin in the jury box. I moved on shortly after Nazi Boy's prelim, so I never knew if he'd taken sound legal advice and let his hair grow out in time for trial. All the AB wannabee's were happy when they heard the lead p.d. was named Klaus Wiebe, but he wasn't any more hip to their weltangschauung than was our Nigerian-American co-worker Dayo.

One of the pleasures of criminal defense is its anthropological aspect. You learn that people do the darnedest things, sometimes with needles, sometimes with needles and ink. When I got out of law school, I was full of critical legal theory, but I didn't know an XIII from an XIV, let alone an AB or an SWP. Mi vida was a lot less loca back then, but much less interesting. Tattoos have become more mainstream too, to the extent that I unwittingly hired an attorney with one once (it didn't show in go-to-court clothes). I'm no longer safe in the assumption that gettin' ink done is a great way of saying, "I've been to prison." Still, I'm pretty safe in telling the dude with the Hitler portrait on his forearm to wear long sleeves next time he comes to court.