Bringing positive energy, healing, and relaxing and sinking into the courtroom battlefield
Criminal defense is nonviolent battle and warfare. On the criminal defense battlefield are defendants seeking to harmonize their predicaments; judges and other courthouse personnel seeing an endless line of criminal and civil litigants prosecutors who often have caseoads too large to give just consideration, time, and energy to their positions on pretrial release, negotiations, motions, and the prejudicial evidence they sometimes present that gives them little to no advantage while inflicting high damage on defendants, and sentencing.
In the courtroom are people who suffer: Criminal defendants, victims of crime, and everyone else to one degree or another, whether that suffering comes from the cases at hand, their work lives, or their professional lives.
One of the most unpleasant courthouses for me to visit is the District of Columbia Superior Court, where — more than the other courthouses I deal with, the hallways and escalators are brimming with litigants struggling to make sense of and get out of their predicaments, and with lawyers hustling from courtroom to courtrooms. The tension there is usually thicker than the other courthouses where I visit.
Therefore, I take a page from my daily martial art of taijiquan by bringing positive energy, healing, and relaxing and sinking into the courtroom battlefield and for the benefit of my clients. It is similar to an emergency room doctor doing the same in the midst of patients coming into the emergency room nonstop after a gun battle between violent gangs, with blood and guts splattering the floors and walls. It is similar in some ways to Hawkeye and Trapper John relaxed and joking as they sew up wounded soldiers sent to battle as cannon fodder in the never-ending stream of wounded soldiers to operate on, many of them never surviving.
To bring that positive energy to my work and the courtroom, I must first work on myself, including practicing taijiquan daily; getting sufficient diet, rest and exercise; and spending quality time with my family. For those potential clients who cmplain that my fees exceed those of lawyers A, B and C, I sometimes respond that they are free to go to those lawyers, but that I charge fees to enable me and my staff to be battle-ready in putting in the time needed for our clients while I keep my own mental, physical and spiritual health at optimum levels so that I have the strength, energy and endurance to do the heavy lifting for them.
What to do with a judge or prosecutor who do things threatening to sap my strength? The same as I do in taijiquan sparrng: Relax and sink into my next move; yield somewhat so that the other has nothing to push against; fill up my being with chi as if filling up a balloon with air; and then use the energy of the other for me and my client to remin in harmony.
People are animals. At their best, they exhibit the best sides of their nature. To attach to an expectation that they always will be at their best will disappoint and wound again and again. Who gets angry at a rabid attacking dog? Fearful yes, but not angry (anger derives from fear). Do not get angry at anyone. Lose the fear. Lose the ego, including the ego concerned with how one’s client and others in the courtroom will react to a judge or prosecutor trying to step on the lawyer. Inspire judges, prosecutors and everyone else to do their best, in part by giving them an opportunity to see that you are a worthy and honest opponent who will not throw sand in their face. Show them you have compassion for them and everyone else, and are able to empathize with them and their own suffering, regardless of the amount of suffering they intentionally or unintentionally inflict on others.
Most importanly, battle to win.