Shootin' the Breeze

and random targets

Archive for the month “March, 2015”

Magic Words

There is power in apologizing. Repentance can be difficult.

Shootin' the Breeze

In my previous post, The Enabler, I wrote about a young woman who failed to take responsibility for a fatal traffic accident that she caused. Her attitude caused even more emotional pain. Today I am sharing a couple other stories from my law practice.

I represented a woman I will call Tessa (not her real name). Tessa is a grandmother who has been married to her husband since they were teenagers. Her husband is retired. Prior to the accident, she was working part-time at WalMart. The subject accident was caused by a young man driving over 100 miles per hour, who side-swiped Tessa’s car and sent it into a ditch along the highway, “de-gloving” her right hand and causing back and hip injuries. Her medical bills exceeded $200,000.00. I won’t describe the details of her case. You will just have to use your imagination about what an excellent lawyer I…

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Courtroom Decorum

This happened a year ago this month. Some readers said they enjoyed it.

Shootin' the Breeze

I was in court today, waiting in the courtroom with my client for the 2:00 p.m. docket.  The judge had not yet emerged to “take the bench” as they say.

Apparently, my client was nervous, or had a lunch that wasn’t sitting right, or a combination.  Regardless of the cause, the result was gastric turbulence.  My client loudly expelled gas.  Use your imagination based on your own life experiences.

The sound reverberated throughout the somber, heretofore quiet, room.  It was noticed by all therein.

Since the judge was not yet in the courtroom, I, as an officer of the court by virtue of my admission to the bar, stepped in, and declared, as I have heard judges pound their gavels and say, “Order in the Court!”

I did not have a gavel, but my words rang out clearly because the room was uncomfortably silent.  All present heard my authoritative voice use…

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One-Conditional Love

Loving innocents,

such as babies and pets,

comes naturally.

It is unconditional love

we feel for our newborn children.

They did not earn our love.

They have it automatically.

I expect more from adults.

My love has one condition —

that they love me back.

A one-sided romance

is impossible.

That is called delusion.

Obsession is not love.

Mutual love is healthy.

God loves us as His children

no matter what, offering forgiveness.

I am not God.

I am less than God

so I require more in return.

I expect fellow humans,

such as adult family members

and friends,

to love me back

and to be loyal

or my love fades.

That is my one condition.

My Last D.U.I.

Shootin' the Breeze

The catchy title has perhaps caught your attention and you are expecting to read a confession of my past sins involving Driving Under the Influence, i.e., drunk driving.

Your expectation is partially correct, but not in the way that it first seems.  This is not about me drinking.  It is about me defending drunks as an attorney.

When I was in law school, I prepared to be a trial lawyer.  In order to get into courtrooms, I took Civil Trial Practice, Criminal Trial Practice, Legalaid Internship, Moot Court, clerked for a judge, and spent two summers working for a prosecutor, including trying real cases under the supervision of licensed attorneys.  My first trial in that office was a D.U.I.  I won.  It wasn’t that hard.  After all, proving alcohol content is science, testing blood or urine of the defendant.

So, when I graduated and passed the bar, I had courtroom…

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The Reckoning

I walked into the courtroom, like I was walking onto a yacht, cowboy hat strategically dipped below one eye, my tie it was apricot.  (To the tune of You’re So Vain, with credit to Carly Simon).

My lovely client, Miss Sugar, known in legal parlance as THE ACCUSED, was trembling.  Was it from fear, or in eager anticipation of being saved, again, by her devoted advocate, COWBOYLAWYER?

No matter, although it should have been the latter.  The proper emotion for THE ACCUSED should have been confidence, if not confidence in the legal system, confidence in her swaggering lawyer.

I greeted the prosecuting attorney, “When you see me coming, better step aside.  A lot of men didn’t and a lot of men died,”  (Credit to Tennesse Ernie Ford’s ballad, Sixteen Tons).

He got the picture.  He invited us to sit down.  This was a pre-trial conference, not the actual trial, the trial that he dreaded.  The trial he now wanted to avoid.  “Let’s talk about a disposition,” he said.

I wasn’t buying any plea deal.  “The disposition we will accept is a dismissal of the charges.  How about that?”

As Sugar’s mouthpiece, I made my arguments.  They were, as you will soon read, very compelling.  Yet you wonder whether they were persuasive.  That is why you will keep reading until the end.  With bated breath.

“First,” I sez, sez I, “The two hour parking sign does not warn that one cannot move from one parking space to another in the same block and still be cited.  A person is not born knowing that.  My client moved her vehicle from one spot to another, albeit in the same block, precisely to avoid a ticket.  How was she to know that she cannot stay on the same block?  This is a grave injustice, grave, I say!”

The quivering prosecutor paled.  He could see that his worst nightmare was coming true.  He could see the danger he faced taking that to trial.  He softly offered, “Well, I see your point.  I will dismiss that one.”

Miss Sugar brightened.  “Thank you,” she said to the prosecutor.  (She should have said it to me).

I wasn’t through with this guy.  “And now dismiss the one for parking overtime in the lot across the street.”

He looked confused.  “But she was there from noon until 8:30 p.m. in a space clearly marked 2 hours only.”

“Exactly!.  She did it on purpose because she has a permit for that lot.  She bought it after getting multiple tickets.  What good is the permit, Pardner?”

“Well,” he explained, “some of the spaces are marked ‘Permit Parking Only’ and others are 2 hour spaces only, even if you have a permit.”

“How was my client supposed to know that?  She just knew she had a permit for that lot.  She parked in the first available stall.  She did not want to drive around looking at each sign.  She should not have to do so.  She should have been given a map at the time she purchased the permit.  She did not think she had to park at the other end of the lot, almost to Perkins Restaurant.”

“I guess I could dismiss that one too.”  He did not want to look into my fierce eyes.

Sugar thanked him again.  What about thanking me?  Perry Mason’s clients thanked him rather than the prosecutor.

“Okay, now how about the two tickets she got in the same afternoon?  One was enough.  She will pay for one, but she did not move her car after the first one because she thought she had been cited already.”

The prosecutor explained, weakly, that it is possible to get more than one ticket when a vehicle remains in a 2 hour spot after the first ticket.  He reported that Sugar’s tickets that day were issued three hours apart.

“She will pay for one, but not for two.  How about that?”  I was repeating myself.  His recital of the facts and explanation of the law did not alter my opinion.

“Okay,” he said.  I wondered if he was going to cry.

“She already paid for one.  We just set the second one for trial.  We asked the guy at the counter to check on it.  Here he is.”

The guy at the counter came in and explained to the prosecutor that Sugar had, indeed, already paid for one ticket.  It had taken him a half hour to find it, but he remembered when she came in on another day and paid.  He apologized that the payment had not shown up because of the trial setting leaving the case open.  He promised that the correction had now been made.

So the prosecutor dismissed all three of the charges that we came in for.  However, he said that he still had to charge $35 for court costs.  He said that he did not have the power to waive court costs, since that is the charge for filing for trial.

“That’s fine,” I said.  “Credit her for what she already paid and dismiss all remaining charges.  We will pay the $35. You’ve got yourself a deal!”

So we paid the $35 and left the building.  We’d had enough fun for one day.


My Favorite Client’s Crime Spree

I have a repeat client who has over the years allowed me to represent her in a number of legal matters.  On a few occasions, we have had to go to court.  Here we go again.

Tomorrow we have a pre-trial conference on some serious criminal charges — multiple parking citations.  A crime spree!

Not everyone can justify hiring a lawyer for parking tickets, or even speeding tickets, but this client can afford it.  She simply asks her husband, me, to “take care of it.”  So I do my best to take care of it.

The city employees in the parking department are used to having people come up to the window to simply pay for parking tickets.  To them, it seems cut and dried. They are surprised to have someone request a trial.

We don’t have parking meters in our town.  A tattletale goes around to chalk tires and record times.  If a vehicle has been in the same spot for two hours, the tattletale issues a citation and puts it under the windshield wipers of the offending vehicle.

Rather than say “uncle” and pay up, my wife tells me of the injustice and I enter a plea of not guilty and set the matter for trial.  If the tattletale does not show up, we win.  If he does, then he will wish he did not.  He will be forced to prove his case under withering cross-examination about how he does his job and whether he did it correctly concerning my client and how he knows his watch is accurate, etc.  Was he under the influence of any alcohol or drug?

Well, it is worth a try.

And if I win, I mean when I win, I will be Sugar’s knight in shining armor, again.  And if she lacks the funds to pay me, I will just have to take it out in trade.  I don’t work for free.

Look at that sweet face below.  I ask you, does that look like the face of a person who would park for more than two hours in a two hour space?  Does that look like a hardened repeat offender?  She has dimples, your Honor.  That proves her innocence.  I insist that these ridiculous charges be dismissed.

valentine date

Let justice roll down like mighty waters!  How dare they give a ticket to my best girl?  We will have our day in court and they will rue the day they messed with the wrong criminal, I mean alleged criminal, I mean the wrongfully accused.  I have a feeling that a certain prosecuting attorney will have a sleepless night.


Customer Service?

Miss Sugar was appalled.  Appalled I say!  She was appalled to find “evidence” of mice in our RV camper trailer.  I was appalled too.  So we decided to do something about it.  We decided to go into town and get some new mouse traps and moth balls.  (Moth balls are allegedly unpleasant to mice).

So we went to town in the pickup truck so we could bring the dogs.  I parked in the lot of a well-known chain store.  It is a store that has many departments, including clothes, electronics, jewelry, housewares, furniture, toys, recreation equipment, groceries, pharmacy, office supplies, and a garden department.  I thought maybe it would have mouse traps and moth balls.

Sugar said that she would wait in the truck with the dogs since I only had to run in and get two items.  She also asked me to get some dog treats.  I forgot to say the store has a pet food department too.  I thought I could handle it.  I did not even need a written list.

I used my intuition to find an aisle that had pest control items.  On the shelves were some poisons, such as D-Con.  To me, the drawback with poison is that the victims crawl off somewhere to die — and stink.  I prefer swifter justice by the guillotine method.  However, I did not find any old-fashioned traps.

Neither could I locate mothballs.

Aware that Sugar and the dogs were waiting, I decided to abandon my wandering and actually ask for help.  I went to the customer service counter at the front of the store.  I had to wait in line while the customer service lady helped others.  Then it was my turn.

“May I help you?” she asked.

I said, “Yes, I hope so.  I could not find mouse traps or moth balls.”

“If we have mouse traps, they would be by the poisons, such as D-Con, in aisle 23.”

“Oh, well, I found the poisons but saw no traps.”

“If we have them, that is where they would be, so check on aisle 23.”

“I did, so does that mean you don’t have them?”

“We might be out.  You could go check.”

“But I already did.”

“Well, that is where they would be.  If we have any.”

“Okay, what about moth balls.”

“Let me call on that.”

She called someone back in whatever department the moth balls were supposed to be located.  There were two kinds of moth balls shown on her computer screen there at customer service.

The lady listened to her co-employee on the other end of the phone and reported back to me.

“She says moth balls should be on aisle 31.  She looked, but did not see any.  If we have any, they would be there.  So you could go to aisle 31 and look.”

“But the person you called told you she could not find them, and she works in the department, so why would I walk back there?”

“Well, if we have them, that is where they would be.”

“Since the lady you called, who works in that department, could not find them, I would be in way over my head, so I will leave now.”

“Is there anything else that I can help you with?”

I went out the door, muttering about “anything else.”

I returned to the truck without dog treats.

“Did you remember dog treats?” Sugar asked.

“I remembered, but did not want to go through check out just with dog treats since they did not have mouse traps or moth balls.  We have to go to another store anyway.”

We went to a farm and ranch supply store.  It had plenty of traps.  There were many choices.  I asked about moth balls.  The girl showed me where they should be, if they had any.

They did not.  At least I don’t have to wonder.

P.S.  This store had dog treats.  So I got traps and treats.

P.P.S.  Next we must hunt again for the elusive moth balls.  First one has to catch the moth, I suppose.  I will use my imagination about harvesting the balls.

Hunt Team

hunt team

I pity whatever is hiding in the hole.  The hunt team is on the prowl.


It takes concentration.

Hunting Party

And a willingness to go far afield.pointer

And it don’t hurt to bring a huntin’ dog to point out the quarry.


Team work!


I was recently reminded that one reason to pray is to be better able to see the needs of another and, seeing them, prayer is not enough when we can actually do something concrete to help.

Shootin' the Breeze

Consider this parable:
A man was driving on a country road when one of the tires on his truck blew out and was flat.
His brother came along and invited the man with the flat tire to come have a beer with him sometime.
“That would be nice, but what I need now is to borrow your cell phone so that I can call AAA.”
“You should not need my cell phone.  I know that you have a cell phone.  Use your cell phone.”
“I left my phone at home.  That is why I am asking for your help, Brother.  What does it hurt you to hand me your cell phone so that I can call AAA?”
“You should have checked your tires.  Then this could have been avoided.  I don’t have a flat tire.”
“Yes, I know, but may I use your phone or not?”
“Man, that hurts my feelings.”

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Bring Enough Guys?


After the fire, Sugar has been shopping for some replacement furniture.  For our old log house, we decorate with cowboy stuff mostly.  Shiny modern furniture does not fit the ambiance of our ranch decor.  So, Sugar found some vintage cowboy furniture, probably made in the 50s.  The couple advertising it on the internet had it in their basement.  Their basement (and the rest of their house) is located 80 miles from our ranch.

When Sugar called and arranged for us to pick it up two days ago, the lady said, “You better bring three strong men because the sofa bed is really heavy.”

So Sugar brought me.  Alone.  That is the equivalent of three strong men, she thought, apparently.  She ought to know, having witnessed my feats of strength for many years.

I am more modest about myself than Sugar is about me.  I asked the lady if there were some young guys in her neighborhood in Denver, a city of hundreds of thousands of people, whom we could hire to help get the furniture out of her basement.  She told me that they live in an older neighborhood and she did not know of anyone who could help.  Then she added, “My husband will be home.  His name is Steve.”

Steve answered the door.  His granddaughter was there too.  She is in 5th grade, she told us.

Steve and I wrestled the sofa bed out of a door from the basement and up some outside steps up to the yard.  I took the bottom.  Steve used a two-wheeled hand truck.  We got the thing up the steps, through the backyard, and through a gate to the driveway.  Then, together, we got it into the bed of my pickup truck.  Whew!

There was also a matching chair and a cabinet.  No problem — until I was standing in the bed of the truck trying to fit the cabinet in between the side of the truck and the sofa.  Despite my remarkable strength and coordination, I stepped off the end of the truck, which does not have a tailgate.  I landed on my back and kinda jiggled my brain but did not crack my head.  I jumped up, put the cabinet and chair in the truck, and started to strap them in, when Miss Sugar came upstairs and outside to the driveway.

I wasn’t going to mention my fall, but Steve, a tattletale, told Sugar that I fell out of the truck and landed on my back in the driveway while holding the cabinet.

Sugar was very concerned, and immediately checked the condition of the cabinet.  It was okay.

So am I.

A member of the general public would have likely suffered great injury, perhaps even a broken back and/or concussion.  It could have been very, very bad for a lesser being.

Fortunately, it was just me.  God watches out for fools, they say.

P.S.  You are wondering how Sugar and I got the sofa bed into our house.  You wonder whether we have steps.  We do.  Sugar told me how to build a ramp.  We used it to get the sofa out of the truck and up the stairs of the deck.  I pushed it up the steps.  Sugar helped me “walk” it back and forth up to the door.  Then we put it on rugs to slide on the hardwood floor.  Brains and brawn — what a combination.  (Sugar’s hand kinda hurts today.  She is just a girl, albeit a smart one.  Sugar is smart, strong, and cute too.)  Speaking of myself, one out of three ain’t bad.


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