Take time to poke fun at yourself. I'll start.
June 1, 2012
Everybody likes to read something funny that happened– to someone else.
But, when we are the butt of the joke, we have a little more trouble laughing.
Everybody likes lawyer jokes, too. Except lawyers who hear them all the time.
Be that as it may, I am stepping out on a limb here and telling a story on myself.
Several years ago, I tried an appointed criminal case for a pulpwood hauler defendant. The client was a former Golden Gloves boxer who stood charged with the felony offense of “injury to a child.”
The accused was a man who could have dispatched most people to the promised land with one blow of his calloused right hand.
That sounds bad, I know. But the deal was that the boxer’s crime consisted of slapping his eleven year old stepson with the back of his hand. At the time of the incident, the stepson, a manic depressive child, was off his medicine and out of control, bouncing off the wall and attacking his own mother.
Step daddy’s backhand calmed him down.
My client had no criminal record. Nevertheless, the state took a dim view of such activity and offered him seven years in the pen in return for a plea of guilty.
The state’s star witness was the doctor who treated the child after the incident. I knew this, so I had made an appointment with the doctor, gone to his office and talked to him about the deal. The state hadn’t expended all that trouble.
I knew what was coming when the good doctor got on the stand. Shortly into his direct examination by the state’s lawyer, this exchange occurred.
DA: “Doctor, you know the child, don’t you?”
Doc: “Yes, I’ve treated him for years for manic depression. He’s a little guy, but when he gets off his medicine, he is a handful. Last year he beat the hell out of a teacher at school.”
When the state objects to the testimony of its own witness, you know the case is not going well.
I put the defendant on the stand, and he told his story. He admitted slapping the kid and apologized for it. He admitted being a Golden Glove boxer. He admitted he could hurt somebody bad with his fists if he wanted.
At a break, the investigator for the DA’s office came up to me and whispered, “You’re killing us.”
I wasn’t. My client was.
The jury convicted him of a misdemeanor and gave him probation. All the time he ever served was thirty days in the county jail.
Remember that the state had offered him seven years hard time in the state pen.
That’s a fine piece of lawyering, if I do say so myself.
So, here’s the joke. A few weeks after the trial, I ran into one of the jurors from the case at the post office.
“Steve,” he said. “I was on your jury the other day.”
“I remember,” I said. “That was quite a trial.”
“It sure was. In the jury room, we talked about how well you handled the case.”
I was prepared to hear copious words of praise.
“Yeah. We thought you handled that one almost like a professional,” he said.
Sometimes, you just can’t get no respect.