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“Is That So?”

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Numerous of my clients obsess over their criminal charges to the point of letting the charges consume their daily lives. Many feel shame from the charges and concern about bringing shame to their families with their criminal cases. Many urgently do not want their friends, family and coworkers to know about their cases, which are made harder to conceal when a slew of direct mail lawyer solicitation letters come through the door in response to their publicly-listed criminal charges.

These feelings are real and I listen. Many of my clients already feel traumatized by the charges against them, and feel that it is all the more a burden for others to know about their cases. Many worry about how the criminal charges will affect their jobs, their immigration status, their student status, and other collateral concerns. Many do not like that their cases can be easily found through an online search. So I listen. And I do my best to help with their concerns. The best way I can help with her concerns is to fight hard and smart for the best possible results, to provide my clients complete empathy and compassion, and not to minimize their concerns. Nevertheless, I sometimes encourage them to be in the moment, to remember that there is only the present moment, and to add some appropriate humor.

The present moment is all that is real, as illustrated by the story of the samurai who is unable to sleep after being captured by the enemy, convinced that he will be interrogated, tortured and executed the next day. An apparition of his teacher comes to him and reminds him that the now is all that is real. He then gets a good night’s rest. He will be more powerful with the good night’s rest than with a sleepless night.

Concerns about criminal charges perhaps weigh all the more heavily on the hearts of my clients who are innocent of the charges against them  For them and all my clients, they might take some comfort in the story of the monk Hakuin Ekaku who was wrongfully accused of fathering a woman’s child because she did not want her parents to know who the real father was and who later was vindicated when the woman revealed the real father’s identity. When wrongfully accused of fathering the child, an accusation that could be devastating to the reputation of a monk who vowed to celibacy, Hakuin would just say “Is that so?” When the parents said that he had an obligation therefore to raise the child, his only response was “Is that so?” and he raised the child. When the parents ungratefully came to Hakuin to take the child back after they knew who the real father was, his only reply was “Is that so?”

Of course not everyone can be like Hakuin in dealing with false accusations, vicious accusations, and stigmatizing accusations. His story nevertheless is inspiring to pursue such a path.

Is that so?