Wednesday, November 18, 2015

The Pickpocket

The law is a sort of Hocus-Pocus science that
Smiles in your face while it picks your pocket.
- H.L. Mencken

I often tell other lawyers I know that I would make an excellent judge.  I am relatively bright, hard-working, and equally disinterested in the lives of all others.  Thus, I am smart enough to handle the majority of the day-to-day intellectual rigors of the job, diligent enough to learn those things that I do not know, and impervious to allegations of bias or favoritism.  

Furthermore, as I have repeatedly said to my wife over the course of the past twenty-plus years, I take no aspect of what I do for my living personally.  By keeping interpersonal relationships impersonal, I am better able to keep the world at arm's length.  Truth be told, I have zero interest in its encroachment beyond that point.  My favorite trophy is the Heisman.  Not because I am a long-time fan of college football, which I am, but because of the player's pose.  

Slightly more than two months ago, I resolved a very lengthy, very contentious, and very complicated case in which my adversary and I waged war against each other almost every day for the four years that the matter was in litigation.  Well, slightly less than four years.  The case settled on Thursday, September 10, 2015.   My adversary had filed the lawsuit on September 14, 2011.  

In more than twenty years of practice, 100% of which is devoted to litigation, I have never been attacked as personally and as repeatedly as I was by my adversary in that matter.  I lost count - at some point in 2014 - how many times he had accused me (either in an oral argument or in a written submission) of being a liar or worse.  It mattered not at all that his attacks upon my character and upon my good name were baseless.  He knew they were when he made them.  He made them because, well because he is an asshole.  An asshole does what an asshole does.  

When the matter finally resolved - after having been assigned out to trial in Essex County - and the settlement of the case was placed on the record in court, the plaintiff (whose injuries had been quite significant) was too ill to appear.  His wife, also a plaintiff, and the couple's adult daughter appeared on his behalf and confirmed their acceptance of the terms of the settlement.  Once the business of placing the settlement on the record had been completed, I approached them and told them that, on a personal level, I was happy that the case had been resolved and I wished them - and the absent plaintiff - much luck and good health.  

It turns out that the plaintiff experienced neither.  Not even a little bit.  Apparently, a short time following the settlement of the case, his medical condition took a turn for the worse.  He lapsed into a coma.  This past Friday, his wife and daughter - his only child - made the agonizing decision to remove him from the machines that were keeping him alive.  


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