Its been a long day. I’ve been in trial all day and I’m tired. I have heard many of my contemporaries and peers (other lawyers) talk about how much they “love” being in trial. I wonder if they’ve ever been in a real trial . . . one where the lawyer cares so much about justice that it hurts. The type of battle that strains every muscle from stress and anxiety. I doubt many of them really mean it — maybe they’re engaging in a bit of advertising or self-promotion. I’m not sure but I know that trials are draining. No one who has ever really tried a case, I mean really tried a case, “loves” it — it takes its toll on even those of us who are accomplished trial lawyers. Today was no exception.
I have known my client for many years. He has been through his fair share of scrapes. About a year and half ago, he confided in me: “Neil, I let you down.” He proceeded to tell me the story about how he was arrested for theft and retail fraud (Michigan’s name for shoplifting so that it sounds worse than shoplifting). I asked him what happened and to please tell me the story. My friend sat before me crying and ashamed. Broken. Humiliated. Sad. I offered to help. I’ve fighting this case since November, 2009. Today was Day 1 of our jury trial in a local district court. It was a rough day.
About two (2) months ago, I tried a case before the same judge. He is a fine man. Straight-laced. Smart. Kind. Thoughtful. He takes his time in making rulings and decisions. He has many fine qualities and I have complimented him (to others) in the past. Two (2) months ago, we pulled a not guilty verdict out of thin air on a domestic violence charge with eyewitnesses, a 911 recording and “injuries”. He has seen what I can do . . . today, in this trial, I feel like I’m on a bit of a shorter leash with a tighter collar. Maybe I’m imagining things but that’s what it seems like.
I feel like a living example of that Al Pacino line from Any Given Sunday, “we fight for every inch . . .”. the prosecutor is young, prepared and determined. While I live in the courtroom, this is clearly her home court. I am not sure that I’ve won a ruling, motion or request yet. If I win the war, I have not won many battles. I cross examined their main witness today. There was “blood” on the floor after that battle but trial’s are not for the weary or the timid. As I said, this is a battle — a war and “war ain’t pretty or fun”.
I’m at it again tomorrow.