Mark Helm departs the planet

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Dec 21, 2008 Mark Helm departs the planet


At forty-five, I still tend to feel invincible, unless I am killed by an accident, natural disaster, warfare, or deadly assault. However, as each year passes, more people I know pass away. I know people in their late eighties and nineties, who have outlived the vast majority of their chronological contemporaries.

Last week, Mark Helm passed away. He attended the Trial Lawyers College in 2004, which was nine years after I did. He was only thirty-eight.

I never met Mark, and do not think we interacted on the Trial Lawyers College’s listserv or otherwise. I wish I had met him. From what I understand, Mark was a criminal defense lawyer who defended his clients to the hilt, and was able to be hilarious outside of court (and perhaps in court at the right times, for all I know) when fighting in the pits for justice.

Mark’s website talks of the way he defended his clients, which ideally describes the level of representation that all criminal defendants should receive:

"I make every attempt to get to know my clients and fight for them as a friend, brother or sister. I do not fight for a name, a cause, or a case number. I fight for a person I care for often someone that has been forgotten, ignored, and passed by. I often fight for someone that has been kicked so many times and so many ways, it is heroic they chose to fight another day. I fight for people with dreams, often unrealized, because they never had a chance, never were given a chance but, they keep going and do the best they can.

"I believe everyone deserves to have someone in their corner. I feel privileged and fortunate to be able to help, defend, and support others on a daily basis. I aggressively defend and protect people the way I would like to be treated if I were accused of a crime. I never forget if the cards had been dealt differently, our roles may have been reversed and consequently, I do everything within my power to protect and defend the people I represent."

If I am not mistaken, I did not know about Mark because he had the modesty not to be tooting his own horn all the time, but instead focused on defending his clients. Think of all the wonderful people we do not meet nor spend time with because we let ourselves get sucked into the daily grind of work, sleep, personal calendars and beer. Not only does it enrich our own lives to make time for such people, but it also speaks loudly to them how much we think of them.

Thanks, Mark, for your inspiration. My thoughts are with you and your family. Jon Katz

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