Being a criminal defence lawyer is part of your DNA. It’s not a job. It’s not a job description. I could never be a prosecutor.
Melody Dernocoeur from the Memphis Public Defender’s Office put it this way: “I am a public defender. That isn’t a job description. Its my identity.”
Indeed, it’s been one of those nights here.
You get the call, often from the local police, often from a family member or the person in trouble who is often in custody (detained). It’s usually at evening meal time or in the early hours of the morning. Somebody in trouble, needing help, frightened, unsure, lonely.
If it’s meal time you get up and leave immediately. You leave your half drunk tea untouched, your meal unfinished.
Or the call comes at 3 or 4 in the morning. Yep it does. You fumble around for the phone to offer advice and comfort. You climb out of bed, dress and drive down the dark quiet road of trouble and fear. This is not some story. It’s happening right here. It’s very human and very real. There are tears often. Comforting.
The price of liberty is eternal vigilance. Day or night. Anytime.
A Lawyers Lament
The dreaded call deep in the night
A plea for aid that can’t wait for light
Torn between duty and sloth
The good lawyer rises like a moth
Fluttering off to do his tedious job
Of defending some poor slob
Who probably won’t even pay his bill
Nor ever thank him for his skill
In springing him from that sleazy jail
And dazzling the court to save his tail
Sadly and as always, as a criminal lawyer, you can find yourself on the receiving end of people’s ire and thanklessness no matter what you have done for them and despite numerous obstacles and even when the result has been a ‘win’.
There are of course many who are grateful.
“The price of liberty is eternal vigilance.”
– Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826)
And don’t forget to hug your lawyer especially when you have had a good day (in or out of Court) or if your lawyer hugs you. Hug back! 🙂