Friday, July 29, 2011

My Plate is Full

I took this picture at the Lompoc Amtrak station. You will note that there is NOTHING there.

Well, nothing in terms of buildings or other structures generally associated with a train station. You can not buy a ticket there.

But you can see the track go on into the horizon. Just like the ocean that is next to it.

That day it was a bit foggy and I had driven out there as I waited for the courthouse in Lompoc to open for the afternoon. I was to be appointed by the court on a new case.

I like that. It gives me the chance to help someone. It helps me pay my bills. Yada, Yada, Yada.

What the clerk didn't tell me was that it was ANOTHER homicide.

They seem to like me for this kind of case.

But today I realized that I had quite a few of these cases on my desk. I had three active homicides, two attempted homicides and all of them were multiple defendant cases.

I began to feel a little like the picture. Vaguely foggy, on a track heading into the horizon, forever.

Then I got to work and the feeling went away.

Nothing makes me happier than delving into a case with both hands and my mind racing about what happened and why. Who did what and what were they thinking. More important, is there evidence of what they were thinking.

Yea, I got a lot on my plate.  My brain is hungry.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Walkin' n' Talkin' 2

This morning, in the cool morning fog, Jed and I went walking on the Bob Jones trail. It's a paved walking/biking trail from Highway 101 to Avila Beach. It is really beautiful.

It took San Luis County and lots of volunteers to get it done and it was done in pieces but I had never been on it.

I just never took the time.

So Jed came this morning and picked me up and we walked the trail. 2.1 miles one way.

Now I have a cyber-friend that is training for the Susan B. Komen 3-Day Walk for the Cure in San Francisco (and Atlanta). She talks about doing 15 miles of walking in one day. So I figure I can do a measly 2.1 miles (one-way) easy!

Well, it was a lot of fun and it was relatively easy. And it was beautiful.

Sycamore tree on Bob Jones Trail
And as far as easy.........

Rollerblading mother with TWO children on Bob Jones Trail
If she can do it rollerblading and pushing a stroller, I can walk for a little of two miles. (one-way)

So, Jed, concerned for my cardio health starts off at a rather good, well, my mother would have called it a nurse's pace. We could still talk to each other (and we did a lot of that) but I was noticing that I had a caboose.

We begin to slow at about 2 miles as we come to the golf course and I am trying to explain to him the difference between the blue, white, yellow and red tees. (Jed doesn't do golf. Sad)

We stop at the coffee house in Avila and walk to the end of the pier and look for seals. We only see the human kind who are swimming out to the end of the pier. In the Pacific. Which is cold. I don't understand.

I notice that I have a covering of , well, sweat, on my body. But the air temperature is quite cool. I am reminded of living in North Dakota and shoveling snow in 20 below weather. Don't overheat......HMMMM...

So we drink our coffee and talk at the end of the pier.

Then we walk 2.1 miles back. All the way. Back. A bit slower.

I notice at this point that the top of my ankle is uncomfortable and I am pushing off on my big toe not all my toes. HMMM.... 2.1 miles. Not 15. Not even 5.

I am a wimp. I am also out of shape.

So I stop and take a picture of a blue heron nest in a sycamore tree.

Heron nest left center at the top (squint a bit)
We watched them feed their young for awhile. Not long. And we kept walking. And we kept talking.

My ankle is now resting with ice. It will be fine.

My relationship with Jed is blooming.

I wouldn't have traded that walk for all the tea in China.

It was healthy, beautiful, and fulfilling.

Thank you, Jed. See you next Saturday!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Remember the SMELLS?

Last night I had the extreme joy of interviewing clients in the county jail. It is part of the job and it happens every (well, almost every) Tuesday.

And as I am sitting waiting to be allowed into the sanctum sanctorum of the interview rooms (this particular lobby area had furniture which is a rarity) I began contemplating the idea that I have contemplated in this position before.

It smells.

Like a jail.

Like a prison.

Like any house of incarceration.

It is the same in all of them. 

I have hypothesized that the particular smell is added to the concrete in the construction process. Like an essential oil.

I am quite sure there is a Federal law that mandates the inclusion of this smell in the construction material.

But I sit waiting for an hour contemplating this important issue until my clients are located, the linen is distributed to all the inmates in this particular wing, and the staff remembers that I am sitting in the lobby.

I am the one on the security camera screen that has been in the same chair for the last hour. Remember me?

I have read the files three times. Filled out all of the paperwork for the interview and reviewed it three or four times.

I would read a book but I can't bring such an item into the jail. Same with a portable phone.

So I sit and hypothesize on the overwhelming smell.

I can't wait to take a shower.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Saturday at Work

I remember Maynard G. Krebs.

The original hippie aka beatnik.

From the late 1950's to around 1963 he appeared on "The Many Loves of Dobbie Gillis"

He bore an amazing resemblance to Bob Denver. And he was my favorite.

He had an aversion to certain things. In fact, he reacted to the mere mention of "work".

I mention this today because I am at WORK!!!!

It is Saturday! The British Open is on TV and the weather conditions over there are abominable . (Which makes for GREAT TV golf---it's called schadenfreude, I think)

But I have three homicides on my desk along with two attempted homicides and a slew of other "run of the mill" cases that all need attention.

So, I am at the office.

But like Maynard, I yelp "WORK" and write to the world about my poor lot in life.

Guess I shall start reading the stuff I came here to read.


Wednesday, July 13, 2011

I think I am a little ODD??

I think I am a little odd.

Not bizarre.

Not crazy.

Not mentally unbalanced.

Just a little odd.

Most people in the good ol' US of A go around during their days trying to avoid traffic tickets, avoiding the obvious trouble maker in the neighborhood, and avoiding mentioning jail much less going to one.

I absolutely try to avoid traffic tickets. My State Bar Card is next to my Driver's License and an officer of the law ALWAYS notices it when I am stopped. It is embarrassing.

But I watch the neighborhood trouble maker. I keep my eye on that kid. I see who comes and goes from his house and I make sure I DON'T recognize him. Having clients on my block is a bit of a conundrum. Can't have them coming by asking for favors, etc. It is not good for business and it doesn't do well for my piece of mind.

But I like crime.

It is what I do.

I even have a t-shirt that says"what I do for a living is criminal".

I don't wear it a lot. People take it seriously and that requires explaining.

But when I am working and I get a call from a clerk at the courthouse somewhere that says "Can you accept an appointment on a 187?" my heart goes pitter-patter. I get all excited. (*Penal Code section 187=murder)

Autopsy photos, ballistic testing, DNA screenings, statements and speculation....pitter-patter---pitter-patter.

It is a mystery with a solution attached and my job is to find the alternative solutions.

So I dig and investigate (through my investigator) and I read and re-read. I examine and re-examine.

And all the time I know. I KNOW. That there is someone's life at stake. And I know. I KNOW. That a life is gone that I can't bring back.

I remember my first murder trial and I remember the last one that I did. I remember all the ones I have won. And I remember the ones that I lost.

Some were found not guilty. Some were found guilty of other charges. Some were found guilty of murder.

In any case, I remembered to respect ALL the players involved. For they were and are still people. People pushed to places most of us can't imagine. People with demons we wouldn't wish on our worst enemies.

I have sat with them and watched their demons play in their minds. I have sat with them and watched them blame themselves for not having more strength. I have sat with them and wondered what I would have done in their place. I have sat with them and cried and laughed and worried and wondered.

So if I am a bit odd, I am glad for it.

I am glad that a murder case is a thrill to me.

I am glad that I still feel that I can help just one person. If only to help them understand themselves and the world around them.

And, yea, I just got a call asking me if I would accept an appointment on a 187.

I said yes.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Somethin' New

Every once in awhile ya gotta do somethin' new. Stretch the ol' comfort zone.

The only way that I have sung in public is in a large choir. Or at least a good sized group where I had to blend in. I always got nervous when I would sing by myself.

So when my friend Kris sent me an email that said do you want to sing the Star Spangled Banner with us at a baseball game, I wrote back. "Did you mean to send this to ME?"

Turns out that she did.

She had an arrangement of the music for three female voices and she and Mary Kaye thought I could do it and that it would be fun.

I was not so sure.

But I said yes.

Our first rehearsal was.....well, the music wasn't so good but it was a barrel of fun.

It had been a long time since I had laughed out loud, giggled, and actually made a joke. (actually, several jokes..all bad)

I recorded my part and sang to it driving up and down Highway 101. I thought I just might have learned it.

Our next rehearsal was better. It was just as much fun and the music was better. We still screwed up in places but it was presentable.

When Friday got here I thought I had it down pretty good but I was pretty nervous. I got to the park almost an hour early!

When Kris and Mary Kaye got there, we ran through it in the parking lot. It was ok and we all laughed. They really made me relax. They didn't know it but they made it really easy for me.

Then we sang.

People laughed at our name. ( appropriate, we called ourselves "The Hotflashes"!) But when I saw them standing and when I hit the right notes (most of the time), it felt SO GOOOOD!

It is really good to have friends. It is really good to sing. It is really good to have both at the same time. And it is fabulous to have both of those doing somethin' new.

Thank you to Kris and Mary Kaye.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Reasonable Doubt

Wow! It still amazes me that people who have not spent one minute in a courtroom on a case can be upset at the outcome of a particular case. It astounds me.

And I bet you think I am talking about that case in Florida. The one that has some woman screaming on television that the defendant is guilty. Has been for months.

But I am really not. Although to be honest that case did bring the subject up.

No, the subject is reasonable doubt. The right to be ASSUMED INNOCENT all the way through a trial until a deliberating jury determines that there is proof beyond a reasonable doubt that guilt resides with a particular defendant.

That's ANYBODY. That is the black guy. The homeless woman.The junkie. The college kid. The city councilman.The local hero.

That's any crime. Hunting on private property. Reckless driving. Stealing. Embezzlement. Murder. Murder of ANYONE.

But too often cases come to court based not on fact but on raw emotion. We THINK this is a bad thing and we THINK this person did it. So the only right answer is to find the person guilty.

It happens with child molestation cases. Every day. Someone makes an accusation. There is no physical proof. There might be suspicious behavior but no proof. But that is ok.  We want to find them guilty.

And our media jumps all over it.

I read a blog today that said that he would not try to explain the Constitution to those who screamed their outrage today because they would never learn and they didn't care.

I think people DO care.

They need to be told. AGAIN AND AGAIN AND AGAIN.

The prosecution MUST prove beyond a REASONABLE DOUBT. They must prove with facts, not emotion.

That is our law, our Constitution.

I think it still lives.

God Bless America

Monday, July 4, 2011

One of dem Days

Ever had one of dem days?

I had planned to get up at a really decent hour and go get the toner for my printer. I ran out last night and I gotta get a lot of printing done on a case for work.

Is 10:45 a decent hour?

Not when the dogs and cats still need to be fed, clients have to be seen at the jail (I'll get to that story in a sec), the printing has to get done AND I have to get to Santa Barbara to interview more clients before tomorrow's parole hearings.

So I have a few things to do. And I overslept.

Then the OfficeMax was out of the toner that I needed.

So I headed to the office with the extra three reams of paper, 4 binders (4 inchers), 19 CD's of discovery, the heavy duty three hole punch, and files.

I thought the car was going to groan.

But the office printer looked at the 2,000 pages and went "Yeah, I can do this!"

But the use of office equipment is strictly forbidden to me. For a reason. I can break almost anything mechanical.
Or at least confuse it.

And confuse it I did.

Did you know that you cannot send more than 2 pdf files to a printer at a time? It will shut down.

Did you know that you must have paper in the paper tray for the printing to get done?

Did you know that ......well, you get the picture...or the copy...(hehe)

I got about 600 pages done, punched and put into order in the first two binders. I was sooooo proud of myself. But there was a lot more to do.

And then I looked at the clock. The main jail shuts down for professional visits at 4pm. and it was 3:30.

These are local clients that I had promised to come out and see. I can't take their phone calls because they are recorded (attorney-client privilege )


So, I cram everything back into the car and head home to pack.

And I drove to Santa Barbara. I had to get there after shift change and before the staff began count in order to interview parolees.

I pull in just at the right time. Something is going right!!!!!


Someone on the inside decided to celebrate the 4th by serving up knuckle sandwiches. Someone took offense and everyone was sent to their rooms.


No one in and no own out.  And that goes double for attorneys.

So no interviews. 

I really did try to get something done today.

Instead I sit in my hotel room tell all of you about a day when nothing got done.

One of dem days.