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Perils of representation.  As with most people, I've made good career moves and bad ones.  Starting this blog was a good one.  Becoming eligible to handle cases on the common pleas court's mental health docket was not.  It's three times the work, for the same amount of money, and sometimes you think maybe you should get combat pay.  In one of the first mental health cases I had, I went over to the jail to visit the client, and was told that the "Tac Squad" was bringing down my guy from the security ward.  Sure enough, a short while later he was led out of the elevator by four guys in black uniforms who looked like they went to the beach and kicked sand in the face of bar bouncers.  My conversation with my client was abbreviated when he found something I told him unsettling, and responded by shouting and slamming the phone down so hard it broke.  I beat a hasty retreat as the Tac Squad decided it was dogpile time on my client.

These cases have allowed me to read a lot of competency reports, however.  They're pretty much the same:  they'll give a history of the client's mental illness, then the results of a series of questions posed to him to determine his understanding of how criminal proceedings are supposed to work.  The report usually ends with a finding of competency, especially given that the threshhold for that appears to be the ability to distinguish the judge from a rutabaga.

But the reports (and the case law) also focus on the client's ability to assist his attorney, so I was somewhat puzzled when I ran across this story (h/t to Legal Blogwatch) about a murder trial in which the judge has ordered the defendant, Joshua Monson, to be seated at a separate table from his lawyer.  Hard to assist your attorney if you can't talk to him.

It seems that Monson is to blame for this problem.  He's on his fourth lawyer, having stabbed the previous three with pencils he'd smuggled.  (Lowering the Bar's take on this produced the paradigmatic example of "the headline tells it all" story:  "Man Who Stabbed His First Two Lawyers With a Pencil Stabs Another Lawyer With a Pencil," although in the last incident it seems Monson used the lawyer's own pen.)  It should be noted that this didn't take place in a holding cell or at the jail; the third incident occurred when Monson stabbed his lawyer in the side of the head while the prosecutor was giving his opening statement.

But things are going well in Monson's murder trial, at least for now; as the news story recounts, with no hint of irony, "No lawyers were injured on Thursday as a murder trial got under way for an Everett man accused of stabbing three of his previous attorneys."  This naturally led to Lowering the Bar's headline, "Fourth Lawyer Not Yet Stabbed With Pencil in Trial of Man Who Stabbed Three Lawyers With a Pencil."

And here I thought I made some bad career decisions.

For the woman who has everything.  My wife's got a birthday coming up, and I've been wracking my brain trying to come up with what to get her.  As you might imagine, I've already showered her with all the diamonds and furs and other baubles that any women could want.  Then again, living with me isn't exactly a day at the beach, so I've got to come up with something. 

Then I came across several stories about how gun sales are at an all-time high in this country, and I remembered this picture of actress Summer Glau from the TV series The Terminator, and an idea formed:  I'll get Summer Glau for my birthday!  Hah-hah, just kidding, honey.  No, I've decided to get my wife a gun.

That's not as far-fetched as it sounds.  As this story notes, there are some 15 to 20 million women packing heat in this country.  In fact, some gun stores now carry a line of weapons specifically designed for women.  Bud's Gun Shop, for example, which has the slogan -- wait for it -- "More Bang for the Buck," features a "Guns for the Ladies" department; the first item in the catalogue is a .22 long rifle with a pink stock.   That's not to suggest that the marketing is sexist; while no self-respecting male would be found with such a weapon, some of the other items in the Ladies Department, such as the Sig Sauer Compact 9 mm, could be carried around without having an adverse effect on one's testosterone levels.  It should be noted, though, that the Smith & Wesson .38 Special revolver with the pink handle is currently out of stock.

Now, I know what you're saying.  Sure, Russ, she'll no doubt love that nifty little Walther PPK .38, but accessorizing a gun is different from figuring out the appropriate scarf or pair of shoes to fit your wardrobe.  Enter Woolrich's, a company selling clothes for close to two centuries, which, according to this story, has decided to enter this market with the Elite Concealed Carry line.  No, I'm not making that up:  also called "covert fashion," it features things like a lightweight water-resistant vest which "includes a stealth compartment in front so the wearer can appear to be warming his hands while actually gripping a pistol in a waistband holster."

Is this a great country or what?

Woolrich's line seems directed at men, but it's probably only a matter of time before the little black dress has a compartment for carrying around that Glock.  The one with the night sights, of course; never know what the little lady is likely to encounter while on an evening out on the town.

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