A Comment…

From a prospective juror, after my jury selection Friday: “You seemed a little nervous.”

That is amazing because I was really nervous. I always am nervous when I have someone’s freedom in my hands. In fact, I find that rather than getting less nervous with experience, I get more nervous—I think because as my youth recedes I have a better understanding of how much is at stake.

If I’m ever not nervous, it will be because I don’t care any more, and it will be time for me to quit.

12 Comments

  1. ‘Pressure is a privilege’ Billy Jean King

    ‘This is the true joy in life – the being used for a purpose recognised by yourself as a mighty one; To be thoroughly used up before being tossed upon the scrap heap. The being a Force of Nature instead of a feverish, selfish, little clot of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making me happy. I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the entire community and it is my privilege to do for it all that I can. Life is no brief candle to me, but a sort of a splendid torch, which I have hold of for the moment and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before passing it on to future generations …’

    George Bernard Shaw

    1. Life is no brief candle to me, but a sort of a splendid torch, which I have hold of for the moment and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before using it to burn the motherfucker DOWN.

  2. During my short tenure at an immigration firm I was told to go to a master hearing docket in front of a particularly angry immigration judge. After I got the continuance my boss needed I was called into my supervisor’s office and reprimanded because the client complained that I appeared nervous when I made the argument to the judge.

    Apparently some people mistake nerves for incompetence. Perhaps there is a venn diagram there but I suspect most competent and prepared attorneys understand the consequences which makes me nervous.

    I try to have a poker face but the nerves are still there. Perhaps this would be a good topic for you to share with future venire members?

    1. Perhaps this would be a good topic for you to share with future venire members?

      Absolutely. I ordinarily do, but I changed other things up this time and left that bit out.

  3. After 30 years, the “nervousness” still appears. When I was a kid lawyer, I was ignorant of the 1,037 ways I could screw up and cost my client her freedom. Now that I know more, I realize how little I actually know and it scares the bejeesus out of me. But, as the Duke said, “Don’t let them know that.”

    1. “Of course, we lawyers talk and talk and talk, as if we feared results. I don’t mean to trifle with you. I always fear results. When life or liberty is in the hands of a lawyer, he realizes the terrible responsibility that is on him, and he fears that some word will be left unspoken, or some thought will be forgotten. I would not be telling you the truth if I told you that I did not fear the result of this important case; and when my judgment and my reason comes to my aid and takes counsel with my fears, I know, and I feel perfectly well that no twelve American jurors, especially in any northern land, could be brought together who would dream of taking a boy’s life or liberty under circumstances like this. That is what my judgment tells me, but my fears perhaps cause me to go further and to say more when I should not have said as much.”
      -Clarence Darrow, closing in the Trial of Henry Sweet

  4. Mr. B., regarding nerves and those that notice when one suffers an attack or not. Nerves are a fickle bitch and from what I’ve personally experienced during the 35 minutes it took my hired (Fake CDL) to complete the voir dire process (his first and last according to the H.C. District clerk’s website), they can also trick you. Really, 35 mins. after he started and poof he was gone without breaking a sweat & I felt very positive. The joke was also on the jury pool and the final 12 contestants due them being picked only to be let go at lunch recess on day one.

    Take it from me for I’ve learned the hard way. Despite having a bad-ass suit, GQ haircut & air of sheer confidence in his self and duties as a Real CDL, sadly, the law allows the unqualified & inexperienced to dabble in felony jury trials. Hospitals’ won’t allow janitors with nerves of steel to operate on brains to trick the patients but yet, courts allow clients and jurors to be tricked in the name of the law. This judicial dilemma is condoned by all via acceptance and silence by all.

    Folks, if your attorney / lawyer seems to be too damned good and his hair cut costs more than the down payment, he’s most likely a faker and shaker and there won’t be any friggin trial. Thanks.

    Q. What time frame is considered normal (both sides) when going through voir dire (felony)?

  5. As I start my 20th year of practice, I agree with Brother Frye. The more I actually have focused the practice on specific areas of law, the more I find myself questioning things done in the past, and the myriad of ways “force of personality” made up for actual knowledge.

    And I agree – the day I stop getting nervous before trials is the day it is time to do something else.

  6. So glad to hear this from you guys. I was just speaking to a client about it today. In my case, ten years on the job, butterflies in the tummy before a big appearance are a sign that I’m switched on. If they’re not there when they should be, time to find a new gig.

    Interestingly, I was in a working rock band for ten years previously with fellow musicians who’d been playing longer than I’d been alive. That was our universal view about that particular performance art. When it became ho hum to me, the butterflies went, I gave it away. No regrets.

    But I digress. Blog on!

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