Monday, February 14, 2011

Trial Bumps

I'll post the trial schedule later, but one case will be missing: mine. Well, my colleague Jackie Wood's case, actually--I was going to second-chair her. But the case pled out right before we picked a jury, leaving us on the down-slide after getting all ramped up.

Trial is funny, you know, it really runs you through the gamut of emotions. And it does so almost every time. Here's one permutation of them:

Steely resolve: this is when the defendant turns down the lowest, most generous, absolutely reasonable-est plea offer. It's the slap with the white glove, the glint in the cowboy's eye: "We're going to trial."

Oh boy: a few days later when you sit down to draft the notices, witness lists, and subpoenas, and make sure all the evidence that exists has been pulled together.

What else, what else?: The paperwork is done, the witnesses prepped and ready. Final trial themes are being bandied about the team and we're making last adjustments to the witness list. (You don't want too many, they might distract from the central elements, but you don't want too few, the jury might not take your elements seriously). You cast around wondering what you've missed... anything?

All this for one case?: There's often a moment, for me at least, amid the mountain of work that is trial prep. A moment when I look at the files piling up around me, when a defense lawyer calls to talk about his or her case and I give them as much time as I dare. A moment when I think, "Wow, I have 150+ cases, and I'm devoting all this work to resolving just one of them. It feels a little like laying out the wedding china, the crystal glasses, the complete set of dinner silverware to eat a solitary pea. The moment passes of course. The defendant's constitutional rights are not to be measured against peas, and I'll always have 150+ cases, whether I try this one or not. Better to focus on my victim, my case, my witnesses.

Here we go...: Our jury panel has been selected and we have the data sheets. We go up to court in our best suits and new haircuts. For some, the nerves are setting in. For others, the jitters come from adrenaline and anticipation. I love doing voir dire, opening statements, closing argument. I don't get nervous, I get hyped up.

Bump: This comes after trial. The adrenaline seeps away and the exhaustion seeps in. Not just from the trial, but on seeing the new batch of cases grinning at me from my To Do bucket.

This week gave Jackie and me a small bump, I suppose, because the trial never really started and so the adrenalin never really kicked in. And any bump has been off-set by the look on the faces of those files in my To Do bucket.

They didn't expect me so soon.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments posted to this blog are NOT the opinion of the Travis County D.A.'s office, under any circumstances. They are only the personal, non-representative opinion of D.A. Confidential if posted under his name.
I welcome all comments, as long as they are expressed with politeness and respect. I will delete all comments that I deem to be personal attacks, or that are posted merely to antagonize or insult.