Monday, December 8, 2014

First Thing We Do, Let's Kill All The Lawyers

Are you one of those people who sees people running alongside the edge of the road, and think "Jerk, get back up on the sidewalk!"?  You can't understand why people would run in the road.  Well, I'm a runner.  I run on the edge of the road.  Let me tell you why.  First. asphalt is easier on the knees than concrete.  That's not why I don't run on the sidewalk.  Let me tell you why.  When I reach an area without a parking shoulder, I jump over to the sidewalk. Since daylight savings time ended, I have fallen on the sidewalk 3 times.  I have gotten road rash on my shoulder, my chin, my hands and my knees.  I have ripped my running gloves.  I've been lucky I haven't broken something. Why?  Because roads in my area are fairly well maintained, they are smooth and even. Sidewalks are not.  They have cracks every 30 inches.  The sidewalk squares heave and buckle and crack.   I've tripped on the uneven surface.  Three times.  Context.

A judge in one of the courts in which I practice lost their young adult child suddenly and tragically at the end of last week.  This was the Christmas cookie weekend for that courthouse, with the delivery set for today.  I struggled with going ahead with cookie deliveries.  Today, I delivered the cookies.  To some, that might feel a bit callous, celebrating the holidays at a place that has felt such deep tragedy so recently.  What if I were to tell you that this particular judge loves my cookies?  The judge looks forward to cookie deliveries with excitement and has, on occasion, chased me down the hall to thank me for them.  The judge's administrative assistant is taking the cookies I delivered to the judge at home.  Does that change how you view my going ahead with deliveries today?  I bet it does.  Context is everything.

My favorite example of context is the infamous Shakespeare quotation:  "First, let's kill all the lawyers."  It is often cited to show that Shakespeare hated lawyers and thought they were corrupt and unethical.  If you read Henry VI, Part II, Act IV, you will see that those lines were uttered by someone who thought that killing all the lawyers was a way to disturb law and order by removing its protectors, and in that way, could seize power.  Context sure makes a difference.

We know a lot about context here in the Trenches.  A purely innocent act, in the right context, can be sinister.  A woman having dinner with a man is innocent.  That dinner, but at a candlelit restaurant, not so innocent.  Oh wait, they're holding hands.  An affair?  He texts his wife about the children.  A concerned parent.  He texts her 50 times a day - something entirely different.  What if he texts her when the child's school is in lock down and they are anxiously texting updates back and forth?  We're back to normal again.  Context is in everything we do here in the Trenches.  Putting things in the right or wrong context can make or break a case.  Here in the Trenches.

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