Monday, December 20, 2004

I'm Back!

I admit, I’ve been a little remiss in updating this thing the past couple of weeks. As I think I’ve noted before, as an appellate specialist in a prosecutor’s office, I pretty much write for a living. Creative writing, in a way, on deadlines that really mean something.

Now, by ‘creative’ I don’t mean I get to make it all up! No, that’s what the other side gets to do. What I mean is that I often have to find ways to present fairly mundane facts and routine applications of well settled law in ways that will not cause the judges and/or law clerks reading my brief to doze off, smashing their heads/faces on various items of furniture. Well, not more than once an issue, anyway. This is harder than you might think.

Aside:

Contrary to the way it is portrayed in the wonderful world of mass market entertainment, much of the practice of criminal law is boring and routine. Take a look at this post by a public defender who is being introduced to drunk driving defense. Holdin' a Deuce? Then you're a pain in the ass. . . (Her title, not mine.) Trust me, it’s the same from this side. When I was doing arraignment court prosecutions we (and by ‘we’ I mean the APAs and defense attorneys) used to joke that the defendant’s were probably being honest when they said they only had two beers – the first one and the last one. Everything in between was just a golden glow.

Repetitive, unoriginal work of any sort is harder than unique, original work. I don’t care if it’s digging ditches or cranking out appellate briefs. That’s what I’ve been doing the last few weeks. Answering unoriginal, unimaginative criminal appeals. The sort where, when you strip away all the make weight issues, amount to a whine that the jury believed the victim (or the State’s witnesses) rather than the defendant (or the defendant’s witnesses). If I had a dollar for every time I have actually written that sentiment in a brief I’d be able to buy that Palm Tungsten I’ve been drooling over at Big Boxes R Us.

Anyway, once I manage to stagger home and up the stairs to the PC, check the dozens of spam emails that I have received in the preceding 12 or so hours, deal with the few real emails, and review and post comments to the two/three online classes I’m teaching this week, the last thing I want to do is write some more. Sigh.

Well, last Monday I finished the last of the October crop of briefs (with two days to spare) and have been occupying myself with things like returning everything to its proper place, filing the unending stream of newsletters, tracking down various treatises and practice guides so the current updates can be posted, and reviewing and making notes on the next crop of briefs. Amazingly, from nothing pending on Monday, I have gone to four due in February in the space of about three days. If anyone cares, the due dates are 9, 10, 11, and 15 February. What this means, is that I’ve had, in effect, three days off. So I actually have some energy to expend on the blog. Imagine that.

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