December 6, 2013 by williamsjustliving
The curtain rises. Enter stage left: newly barred attorney, sworn less than two months ago. The scene is calendar call for criminal cases in a metropolitan area. The newly barred attorney sits ramrod straight next to her supervising attorney. This is her first calendar call ever, so she displays the crisp, measured movements of someone who is nervous and trying very hard not to show it.
And, then things mushroomed. Time to break the fourth wall.
My supervising attorney had to leave to handle a matter in another courtroom.
Blessing 1: One of the other attorneys present in the courtroom is a professor at my law school. His mere presence was comforting.
Blessing 2: For one reason and another, I had sent an e-mail message to a highly experienced public defender. She, too, was in the courtroom and she was willing to help.
Blessing 3: I was sitting next to a friendly assistant district attorney who went to my law school; she comforted my frayed nerves and reassured me that I was at least coherent.
Blessing 4: The judge granted me a continuance.
Blessing 5: I was tempted to leave after my continuance was granted…..but, I stuck around so that I could talk to the assistant district attorney on the case.
Blessing 6: The assistant district attorney on the case is a reasonable and sharp person, and willing to listen. She said the words that form the basis of
Blessing 7: NOLLE PROSSE (or, nolle prosequi).
Usually, people think of blessings as mysterious cosmic currency showering down from above. In this situation, I was left with nothing other than instinct–the reaction to life that comes from the gut. My knowledge of the criminal law system is growing daily, but on the “day in question” there was a lot I didn’t know. That means, the legal jargon was out of the window. Gone was pretending like I knew what was going and, therefore, not asking questions. For a few hours, introversion was placed on the back burner.
The only thing that I knew for certain was that pretense, swagger, and aloofness wasn’t going to help my client’s situation at all.