What was I thinking? Actually, it doesn’t take a Rhodes Scholar to ascertain that I was flirting with disaster to categorically attempt to poke a little fun at attorneys. In addition, I’d be the first to admit that my attempt at humor was pretty lame. The jokes were pretty old and not all that funny. For one thing, I have seven (perfect number) friends who are attorneys (or did). In addition, my wife’s niece and her husband are both attorneys. They, too, are friends (or were). What was I thinking? Add to that the host of attorneys that are associated with Minton, Burton, Bassett & Collins where the General worked for twelve years. Without exception, the attorneys with that law firm could not have been friendlier or more gracious toward me. I should be ashamed that one of my blogs included the misnomer that “brilliant attorney” is considered by some to be an oxymoron. I didn’t say that was true of my thinking, but it would have served me better to have made no reference to it at all. Hands down, “I’m stupid!” Okay, I admit it! Anything for a laugh isn’t always worth the price of admission. Let me say it again: “Hands down, I’m stupid!”
I would have been better served to focus on the beam in my own eye and pick on social workers than to take on the legal profession. Perhaps the most obvious reason is that those guys and gals play hardball and they generally play to win. Isn’t a successful attorney an attorney who has the reputation for winning? Social workers on the other hand, want everybody to win. How stupid is that? Our culture isn’t geared to think that way. In fact, many folks are of the opinion that unless there is a declared winner and an identified loser, nothing much has been accomplished. One former, very popular child-care administrator has the notoriety of being credited with saying on many occasions: “It takes a lot of social workers to beat none.”
My attorney friends have kept me out of heap of trouble. I’ve never asked one to help me fix a ticket or to orchestrate a “get out of jail” free card, but their friendship and wise counsel has contributed much to reduce my level of stress and to keep me out of getting into a real bind. I know what you’re thinking. Don’t go there. Truthfully, no one has ever issued me a Miranda warning. Can you imagine what would happen if someone told me: “You have a right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law.” Of course to get the Miranda warning right, they’d also have to mention that I have the right to an attorney and that if I’m indigent, the court will provide me one.
Of course, that reminds me of the would-be robber who pulled a pistol on a lady and said, “Give me your money or give me you life.” She responded, “I am a social worker. I don’t have money and I don’t have a life.”
I know enough about the law to know that attorneys are expensive. Fortunately, my attorney friends have all bailed (pardon the pun) me out pro bono. I am grateful! Perhaps I should confess up front that my attorney friends are ALL brilliant. Obviously, I am still trying to dig my way out of the doghouse for my tongue-in-cheek ill-fated attempt at humor.
I had an opportunity to visit with an attorney friend on Wednesday that is on our board of directors. He mentioned jokingly that he’d noticed I recently had been a little harsh toward his profession in my blog. Actually, he is probably only one of two attorney friends that actually read my blog. What was I thinking? Besides that, he was at the agency providing pro bono consultation on a legal matter. Okay, so I back pedaled as quickly as I could.
I’ve known this guy for about twenty-five years and you’d have to look a very long time to find anyone more capable or more in tune with the desire to do what is right for others. He is an incredible asset to the legal profession and to our agency. So he falls into the esteemed category of being brilliant, ethical and an attorney. He is also delightfully funny.
In the course of conversation, he mentioned that early in his career he had been out-of-state representing a client in a deposition. Apparently, the attorney on the other side was intent in getting all of the mileage he could out of deposing folks and laboriously went on and on. My attorney friend was concerned that he was going to miss his flight back to Texas. I mean, after all, enough is enough! He pleasantly suggested that wrapping the deposition up seemed to be in order. There was no sense going on and on.
The attorney on the other side said, “Isn’t that an oxymoron? Whoever heard of a defense attorney that doesn’t want to bill for more time?” After the deposition wrapped up, the attorney who had made the reference to the oxymoron said to my attorney friend: “Off the record, I have been both.” My attorney friend responded: “Which? The ox or the moron?” Touché! Didn’t I tell you as a rule of thumb, attorneys like to win?
Attorneys and/or judges can effectively and skillfully vie for the best interests of children. Social workers don’t exclusively have the market on that skill set. The attorney said that when he was very young and clerking for a law firm, he walked over to the courthouse to observe a family court in session. The divorced couple had obviously been in and out of court and each were using their seven year old son in some fashion to get even with or heap coals of fire on the other’s head.
Looking up, the judge asked the Bailiff to come forward. He turned to the seven year old who was with his parents and said, “Do you mind if I ask you to go with the Bailiff to my office? I have a jar of candy on my desk. Please take out two pieces. Both pieces are for you. Don’t give the Bailiff any candy. He doesn’t need it. While you are away, I want to visit with both of your parents. Is that okay? The little boy said, “Yes” and walked away with the Bailiff.
The judge then apologized to the parents for what he was going to order. He said something closely akin to: “It didn’t have to be this way, but you’ve made it so. Because of your behavior and your on-going insistence at dragging your son into the middle of your conflict, you need to look carefully at what you are doing to him. If you don’t stop what you’re doing, I will eventually see your son in my court as a juvenile offender. What you are doing to him is harmful. I want it to stop.
You leave me no other choice. Going forward, you’re going to do it this way. Any exchange of your son between the two of you related to court ordered visitation must take place in the parking lot of the Sheriff’s department. You will both pick up your son at that location and you will take him back to that location to return him to the other parent. If either of you is as much as five minutes late, the parent who is late will be held in contempt of court and be taken to jail.”
I really like the judge’s style. It is clear from his wise counsel that his first priority is to ensure that the child didn’t lose. That always works for me.
All My Best!