Saturday, August 30, 2008

Roller coaster

I haven't been blogging much about criminal defense or the law lately. I think it's because I just haven't wanted to think about those topics, which makes working every day a bit difficult. I have been facing a crisis of confidence for a while now. This coming week, I finally have to face head-on the source of that crisis. This week, I have to go back to court with the second go-round of my biggest case ever. This case is my legacy. It is the case that I am known for, the proudest moment of my career. And I am scared to death that I am going to lose it.

This was the first really big case that my bosses entrusted me with. I was still a young lawyer and felt so proud that of all the attorneys in the office, many of whom had far more experience than me, my boss thought I was the best choice to tackle the large, complex case. This was a high publicity case that had really sympathetic victims and a community who wanted the defendant to fry before any evidence was heard in a courtroom. I gave my first ever interview for this case, got my name in the paper for the first time. I heard through the grapevine that the other side was talking about me. I felt like I'd become a big thing. I'm not gonna lie; this case was a huge ego boost for me and I loved it.

And then I won the thing. On several angles. To this day, that remains my best day as a lawyer. That whole year, in fact, was probably the best of my life. Many, many good things happened that year, personally and professionally. This win was one of many that year. But even when we win, well there's often a second time around. Cases don't die, they come back again and again. And now we're here to the second coming. It's never as easy to win the second time. But if I don't win this time, well then it was all for naught. The client won't get another shot at it.

Lest I sound too egomaniacal, the real kicker of this case for me has always been that I don't believe this prosecution was fair. I don't believe the potential result for my client was just. It's great to win cases and make good law, but it's even better when the win really helps someone who shouldn't be where s/he is. That's why this win was such a proud moment for me. I didn't just win a case, I secured justice (or at least another shot at justice) for this client.

And that's why I'm so afraid of this coming week. I don't want to have to look this client, or his mother, in the eye and tell them, "I'm sorry. There's nothing more I can do." I don't want to fail. I can't fail. For him, I just can't. But I'm going to. I feel it in my bones. (If I don't find my confidence before I go to court, I clearly will fail.) And if I do fail, that will be a bleak day.

Crazy how this one case can provide the highest high and the lowest low of my career. I hope I can survive the crash. Wait, I still have to remember to hope I can avoid the crash.


Meryl said...

Ahem. As a lawyer I admire very much once told me....

You are God's gift to appellate practice.

Blood makes the grass grow--kill, kill, kill!

Woman in Black said...

Good luck! I am on the worst losing streak of my long lawyer life, and it made me glad to read about your best day. You will have another.

Kathy said...

Good luck! I'm no lawyer, but I'm sure you would give Cicero a run for his money in the courtroom :)

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