Friday, September 29, 2006

comments from oral arguments

Counsel: Judge, I'm very disappointed that you don't agree with me.
Judge B: I'd be disappointed too, if I were you.

Counsel: Sorry I don't recall all the details. Trial was a year ago, and you can't expect a 60-year old man to remember everything.
[Pause as he realizes that all of the judges on the panel are well over 60.]
Not that 60 is old or anything.

Government counsel: The defendant only got a 35-year sentence, instead of the mandatory life sentence he could have gotten.
Judge A: But wasn't he older, like 61 or so?
Judge D: Be careful; you're on dangerous ground.

[In a case involving a very complex and confusing contract.]
Counsel: I didn't write this contract, by the way.
Judge C: That's a really good disclaimer to make.

[In a case where the Supreme Court reversed the Tenth Circuit's previous decision.]
Counsel: We did the best we could, but we couldn't get the Supreme Court to agree with you.

Government counsel: I flipped a coin with my co-counsel to decide which of us would argue the case and which would be subject to water-torture. I lost.

Defense counsel: The confession wasn't voluntary because the police told the defendant that he had cancer, so he was really upset.
Government counsel: The police weren't trying to upset him. They just asked him about it to be friendly.
. . . .
Judge A: At least if we watch Law & Order, it seems like this was intended to rattle him.
Government counsel: They just said, "How are you doing? Are you okay, because we heard you might have cancer. Do you have cancer?" No one would be upset by that. It's like if the government said, "Are you part of Al-Qaeda? No? Okay then." You wouldn't be upset by that.
. . . .
Government counsel: It wouldn't affect you if I said, "Good morning, judge. I heard you broke your hip last week."
Judge E: I'm not going to die from a broken hip.
Government counsel: How about "I heard you have a brain aneurism"?
Judge E: Well, I might take offense at that.
. . . .
Judge D [to counsel in the next case]: Are you sure you're feeling okay today?
Judge E: Because we've got something to tell you.

This became the joke of the day. "How are you guys doing? Do you have cancer? I heard you might have cancer. No? Well, how about a brain aneurism?"

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Now that's what you'd call ironic

My horoscope for the month of September, according to United's in-flight magazine: "You will travel without mishap, due to small things working in your favor."

Monday, September 25, 2006

a hard-knock life

You know how sometimes you drive past office buildings at night and see people hard at work inside, and you think, "Poor suckers." At least, that's what I always think. Well, tonight I'm one of those people. Except for the "hard at work" part, I suppose, but I'm going to start working in just a minute. We're going to Denver tomorrow, and I had six cases to prepare in the week after Philly. Over-achiever Dave worked all weekend and finished up his last three cases yesterday, so now I've got to finish my last case tonight. (Dave started out with one more case than I did, so I was one ahead of him on Friday night when I left.) I did have a nice break with home-teaching, dinner, and FHE, but now I'm back. Alas.

My other source of sadness is the realization that I have to wear my suit every day for the next four days, including on the airplane tomorrow. We're going straight to the courthouse for a reception when we arrive, so we've got to wear our suits for the trip. Actually, the judge said that we didn't need to wear suits; we could probably get away with casual instead. (Then he looked at our jeans and tennis shoes and said, "I'm not sure how your generation defines casual, though. Nude?") However, over-achiever Dave is wearing a suit, and probably all the other over-achiever clerks will as well, so I've got to wear one too. I much prefer the "wicked casual" dress code in our office. But I suppose sacrifices must be made in order for the people of America to receive justice from well-dressed officers of the court.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

a trip of unfortunate events

Coming back from Philadelphia took us 16 hours. We caught the taxi from our hotel at 11 am, Philadelphia time, and we got back around 1 am, Utah time. It was a rather tedious day.

Our flight was supposed to leave at 1:45. We boarded, taxied out onto the runway, and waited there. For more than two and a half hours. There was nothing wrong with the plane or anything; we were just waiting to get flight clearance to take off. The pilot was getting pretty annoyed by it too. He told us, "I don't know what the problem is, and I don't know when we're going to leave. All I know is that Philadelphia does not know how to run an airport."

I was in a middle seat that whole time too, which wasn't very pleasant. The people sitting next to me were both using the center armrests, so my bubble was being encroached upon the entire time. And then the guy on my right was really smelly. He was a nice man, but he emitted a powerful and noxious combination of old-person smell and smoker smell. I was trying to sleep sitting up, but the smell was bothering me too much. So I put my head down on my tray table. That worked for a few minutes, until the army man sitting on my left hit me really hard in the back. It was on accident, but I was afraid I might die from internal bleeding if it happened again. (I was really bruised for a few days after just being hit once.) So I ended up suffering through the old smoker man smell for the rest of the 6 hours on that plane.

There were 95 passengers on our flight who missed their connecting flights. Fortunately, we hadn't missed the last flight to Salt Lake City for the night. While we were waiting for that flight, the judge was talking to his family. They told him that his son-in-law was stuck in LAX, waiting to be allowed to board his flight to Salt Lake City. They hadn't let him board because the Salt Lake City airport was closed due to weather. We were rather surprised when the judge told us this, since they hadn't made any announcements about our flight. The judge said, "Knowing American, they'll inform the pilot that the airport is closed 10 minutes before we're supposed to leave."

Sure enough, after we had boarded and it was time for us to leave, the pilot got on the intercom and said, "I just learned 10 minutes ago that our lift-off time has been moved back to 10:08. That's an hour and forty minutes from now. So, we'll wait here at the gate for the next 30 minutes, and then we'll pull out onto the tarmac in case they bump up our flight time." We did that, but they didn't end up changing our flight time at all. Since we had boarded at 8, we ended up sitting on the ground in that airport for 2 hours before leaving. (As an aside, I thought it was very silly that we all had to turn off our phones for the 1-minute trip out to the tarmac, even though we knew we'd be able to turn them back on again for the next hour of waiting there.)

We arrived in Salt Lake a little before midnight. It was a complete madhouse. Everyone's flights had been bumped back a few hours, and they'd tried to catch up on the lost time by having flights come in as close together as possible. It was busier than the mall at Christmas-time, but much less full of good cheer. For some reason, the Salt Lake airport people decided not to have any of their employees work overtime, so they were functioning on their midnight work schedule. And there were disgruntled passengers swarming around everywhere.

The airport people gave up on sorting the baggage, so they were announcing on the loudspeakers, "Don't pay any attention to the signs over the luggage carousels. Your luggage might be on any one of the carousels. One bag might be one carousel 1, and another might be on carousel 3. You need to check them all." Then, I guess because people were switching which carousels they were watching, the carousels were all completely filled with luggage, and more luggage kept coming down and smashing into that. At the carousel I stationed myself next to, there were three layers of luggage piled up already, with more luggage coming down all the time. It was rather fun to watch and predict which bags or boxes would get the most smashed. It was especially exciting watching suitcases crash down onto the box labelled "human blood." (I think it really did contain blood, since it was labelled as coming from a laboratory and was being sent to the medical center. There were also several other boxes labelled "human tissue" and "human specimens.")

We finally got our bags, but the drama of the day was not yet over. Because of the whole midnight schedule thing, we had to wait 25 minutes before the shuttle for long-term parking showed up. And it had become winter in Utah while we were gone, so we were standing there in a bitterly cold rainstorm without adequate clothing. There were about 60 people waiting for the shuttle, but luckily we managed to fight our way on when it arrived. And then we had to get out of the parking lot, and there was only one cashier working. (Another cashier was sitting in the box right next to her, but she was too busy talking on the phone to actually help any of the 50 cars waiting to get out of the stupid lot.) That's why I didn't get home until 1:00.

So, that was my exciting day of travel. I spent more than ten and a half hours sitting in planes. I could have gone to London in that amount of time. And if I had, they might have given me a snack.

Friday, September 22, 2006

As a follow up to the previous post, let's examine some of the differences between Dave, the real lawyer, and Cindy, the not-real lawyer. (It should be mentioned that most of the statements attributed to Cindy were not actually vocalized.)

Dave: It's too bad we're wasting so much time on the plane, when we could be working that whole time.
Cindy: I love a good excuse not to do work.

Dave: Why couldn't we have gone home as soon as we were done with our work here?
Cindy: It's so great that we have the afternoon free to do some sightseeing or other fun stuff.

Dave: I wish those other clerks had wanted to go get drinks or something with us.
Cindy: Thank goodness we didn't have to go socialize with all those people we don't know.

Dave [as we walk past a drug deal]: Even though Philadelphia is a lousy place, it's nice to be back in a real city. I really miss New York.
Cindy: This is a fun place to visit, but I sure wouldn't want to live here.

Dave: I'm in the mood for some simple food.
Cindy: Wait a minute. I actually kind of agree with that.
Cindy [to the waiter]: I'll have the lemon chicken.
Dave [to the waiter]: I'll have the eggplant and goat cheese pizza.
Cindy: Eggplant and goat cheese?
Yesterday I was talking to one of my college friends on the phone. She said that every time she thinks about me being a lawyer, she has this mental image of me standing there, twirling my hair around my finger, and saying something like, "Um, my client really didn't do it. If you look at the facts, you'll see that he's, like, totally innocent. So, yeah, you should like find him not guilty, or something like that." She said that she just couldn't picture me as a real lawyer.

I remembered this just now as I was trying to see how fast I could twirl around in my office chair. I think she may have a point.