Catnapped and Doggone
Which fictional lawyer would I hire if I was accused of committing a crime? First, notice that I used the word “accused.” Anyone can make an accusation so it might be possible that I get accused. Caught is different. I shall not be caught. Ever. Just so you know. But if, through some tremendous abuse of prosecutorial discretion, I am forced to protest my innocence, let’s start by saying I won’t be representing myself. I went to law school. I passed the bar. I’ve been practicing for two decades (and would appreciate if you don’t the math to calculate my age). But that old adage, the lawyer who represents herself has a fool for a client is one of the world’s biggest understatements. It’s not just that anyone contemplating hard time in the big house is likely to take it personally. It’s not even that asking yourself questions while in the witness box makes you look like an insanity plea would be a slam dunk and by then it’s way too late. No. The reason I’ll be hiring a professional is ineffective assistance of counsel. Basically, if am convicted, I know who to blame and it still won’t be me.
As a professional, I will naturally conduct extensive interviews of candidates. Check them out for everything from temperament to win-loss record to slickness of attire. Some famous non-starters include Perry Mason, Michael Kuzak and Oliver Babish.
Perry was good. Too good, maybe. His winning percentage is 99.631%. He lost exactly one case in 271 episodes. Even then, it was only because the client withheld evidence. Not Perry’s fault. Which would make many people hire him on the spot. With that batting average, though, I think poor Perry might be due for a disaster verdict. In fact, his record is better than Bernie Madoff’s record for positive returns on investment and we all know what happened to him. He’s doing a hundred and fifty years.
Michael Kuzak of L.A. Law is too pretty and he got pushed out of his law firm by Douglas Brackman, for Pete’s sake. To say nothing of the fact that he might want to stay on the prosecutor’s good side or face sleeping on the couch. Talk about your conflicts of interest. Nope, too much baggage to go with L.A. Law.
I’d love to hire the West Wing’s former White House Counsel Oliver Babish. His defense of the President during that MS non-disclosure hubbub resulted in nothing more than a bad, bad President statement read out loud in Congress and who listens to them? Then again, this is a guy willing to yell at the cardiovascular surgeon/First Lady for pretending she was too stupid to understand a simple medical form. I’m afraid our control issues might be incompatible. Sorry, Oliver, you’re not making the second round of interviews.
They aren’t on my current list of candidates but if either Jack McCoy or Michael Cutter of Law and Order decide they want to jump to the defense side of the aisle in a really good cause, I’ll take a meeting. By that same token, if Clarence Darrow goes from fact to fiction, I hope he gives me a call. He was so good in that Scopes Monkey trial that his chief rival not only gave up, he died five days later. Now that’s a result.
I’ve narrowed my choices. I’ve signed the engagement letter. I shall be represented by none other than Atticus Finch. He doesn’t have Perry Mason’s amazing track record. He doesn’t dress as well as Michael Kuzak. His soft-spoken manner would seem to wilt in the presence of the forceful Oliver Babish and the truth is, he lost his last big case. None of that matters. He’s my guy. He doesn’t let his personal feelings interfere with doing the best possible job he can, even if the cause is lost, because his cause never is. Atticus’ cause is the client. Always. He’s doesn’t practice law to have a career. He doesn’t work to pad his stats and he couldn’t care less if his picture is captioned as mouthpiece to the stars. He’s a lawyer’s lawyer. And he’s hired. Which doesn’t mean I’m not hoping Henry Fonda is one of my Twelve Angry Men.