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Once upon a time.  Travis had done all the right things, and he said all the right things.  I'd done my part, for sure.  Travis, who'd been down to the joint a couple times in the early part of the decade, had stayed out of trouble since then, until one night he came home and got into a scuffle with his girlfriend. There was some stuff about not letting her leave the house, and when he finally fell asleep on the couch, she called the cops.  They came in and arrested him, and when he went to grab for his pants, several bags of crack fell out.  But I'd gotten the prosecutor to drop the kidnapping charge, and Travis was looking at only a misdemeanor domestic violence and a trafficking charge.

That was still enough to get him shipped, so I'd told him he needed to clean up his act and prove to the judge that he was serious about overcoming his habit.  And he'd followed my advice to a T.  At the sentencing, I was able to give the judge attendance sheets showing that in the past 41 days, Travis had been at a Narcotics Anonymous meeting 26 times.  The judge, very knowledgeable on the subject of addiction, quizzed Travis about the meetings, his efforts to get a sponsor, and so forth.  Travis answered easily, and also told the judge about how his efforts had allowed him to be reunited with his girlfriend and his three kids, and how he'd realized how important it was for him to be a good father.  He'd been clean now for forty-five days.  One day at a time.  He'd only worked a couple of jobs in the past three years, but he was getting that together, too, and he'd lined up a couple of interviews.  The judge, obviously impressed, gave him two years of community control sanctions.

Outside the courtroom, Travis hugged me and thanked me profusely.  "You did what you had to do, man," I said, giving credit where credit was due.

At which point Travis looked away, then back at me, then dropped his voice to a conspiratorial hush.  "Hey, you think they'll test me today?"

*   *   *   *   *

For the record, every notice of a hearing I send to a client in a criminal case contains this phrase at the bottom:

If you plead guilty or are convicted on the date of the hearing, you will be tested for drugs and alcohol.

Just like that, bolded.  I include this to prevent a repeat of the long-ago conversation which prompted it, after I went out and explained to my client that the pre-sentence report showed he'd tested positive for drugs when he went down to the probation department right after his sentencing:

CLIENT:  But you didn't tell me I'd be tested for drugs.

ME:  Gosh, you're right.  It's my fault.

Speaking of sentencings, the Saga of Shawn comes to a merciful end.  For those who missed previous episodes, a quick recap:

  • Shawn is charged with leading the police on 100-mph automobile chase.  (A 100-mph horseback or foot chase would certainly be memorable, no?)  I cleverly find proof that he wasn't the driver, and the prosecutor agrees to drop the fleeing charge and let Shawn plead to a 4th and 5th degree felony.
  • Which Shawn would've done on the day of trial, had he shown up.
  • Notwithstanding Shawn's absence, when he does show I talk the judge into letting him back out on bond, talk the prosecutor into dropping the 4th degree felony, and get the judge to agree to give Shawn probation.
  • Which he would've done at Shawn's sentencing, had Shawn shown up.
  • Shawn's mother instead took him to a funeral, then rejected my advice of having him turn himself in.

So Shawn gets pick up in the inevitable traffic stop, and here we are in front of the judge.  I make the pitch, in roundabout fashion, that Shawn's mother is the real bad guy here, and she probably is:  I called and told her the day before the sentencing to make sure Shawn showed up for that, and she decided it was more important to take him to the funeral.  But the judge pointed out that Shawn also had about four outstanding warrants for other misdeeds; "We can't blame that on Momma, can we?"

The judge gave him six months.  Outside, the mother asked only a single question:  "When does he get out?"  "With jail credit, he'll do another three months," I answered, suppressing the urge to strangle her.

Boo f*****g hoo.  The word for today is Schadenfreude, a German word meaning, "taking delight in the misery of others."  (And if anybody had a word for that, you'd figure it would be the Germans.)  It's prompted by the release of the 2010 Client Advisory, a publication intended to advise the major legal firms -- affectionately known as BigLaw -- of the legal market.  And the news wasn't good; we are told that "it was the worst year for the legal market in at least the past half century."  We're introduced to a number of charts, all of which have a downward tilt as the year progresses, which resulted in the top 250 firms laying off a total of 5,259 lawyers in 2009, with associates hardest hit, their ranks thinned by almost 9% during the year.

But all was not lost.  While many of the BigLaw markets -- general corporation, tax, real estate, and capital -- went to negative growth by 10 to 15%, there was one bright spot:  the demand growth in bankruptcy jumped by about 20%.

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