July 01, 2005

In the abyss of the maw

From a South Carolina post-conviction relief petition:

... the Petitioner was cast into the abyss of the Public Defenders maw, to be masticated as if grizzle...

I've never been that hungry, nor shall I ever be.

There can be times, and clients, when it's mutual mastication. Ken Lammers knows what I'm talking about, as does every other colleague of ours, I imagine. For some clients it may be that every one else in their perception has jerked them around, so now into the attorney visiting area here comes the latest jerk, the p.d. (and not even a real lawyer). Maybe these clients look at me and launch some pre-emptive mastication as a form of self-defense. Unfortunately, it's hard to shake hands when someone's chewing on my ass. Why the clients who use this strategy believe that it will leave them in a better position than before, I have yet to understand.

I got to thinking about defensive driving after reading Borenstein's Law. I imagined this freeway that we're all driving, and the wrong exits my clients take. Once my client takes a wrong turn off the freeway, it can be fiendishly difficult to find the side streets that lead back to the main road. Take another wrong turn off one of those side streets, and you may never make it back. Now and then, one of the signs on the freeway says, "Exit Only." It's coming up, it's coming up closer, zoom, you take the exit. Now what?

There's a stranger who comes up to you and offers you some directions to get back on the freeway. You don't know whether or not to trust the stranger. Maybe you'll argue with the directions. Maybe you'll display your superior understanding of navigation. Where does it get you?

Or say the stranger shows you a road map. The stranger puts a finger on the map and says, "this is highway X." Look at the map. The number next to the stranger's finger is X. You stand up to the stranger and say, "Oh, you can't fool me, the last person who tried that tricked me, that number is Y." Where does it get you?

Yeah, I can feel a bit lost too, and weary from the road, and I'm really sorry. I'm not the one at the wheel, though.

Update: Listen to CrimLaw. He's not trying to scam anybody. He has the right directions.