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Remaining powerfully serene and enchanted in the presence of once-detested opponents

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A few months ago, for the first time in my lawyer career, a prosecutor had the audacity to open the door into the meeting room where I was conferring with my client, without a knock. Inside I was livid that a prosecutor would dare invade the attorney-client privilege inner sanctum.

Reverse roles. This particular prosecutor is a rather recent law school graduate. Perhaps he did not realize that this no-knock door opening opened the door to violating the rule protecting attorney-client privileged communications. Perhaps he did not recognize the huge difference between criminal defense lawyers trying to catch conversations between prosecutors and police — where no attorney-client privilege is involved — and a prosecutor or cop eavesdropping on a lawyer talking with his or her client.

Another prosecutor I know would not surprise me if I learned that he practices three hours of eye-rolling each night, followed by an extra hour of sarcastic sighing, all to play up to the judge (and hopefully not to the jury). Reverse roles again. I am a fly in various prosecutors’ ointment and a booger in their lunch, there to serve nobody and nothing but my clients, the governing law, and lawyer rules of professional conduct. I have no strong friendships with prosecutors nor judges to seek nor keep. This particular prosecutor labelled me an obstructionist — perhaps a wasted breath at hyperbole — when I told him I was going to oppose his motion, made pretrial, to amend my client’s criminal charging document, despite my solid legal grounding for opposing the prosecutor’s motion. 

 As circumstances had it recently, both of my DWI trials in the same day were with the two foregoing prosecutors. Instead of my wondering what kind of irritation they would try serving me that day (counter to being in the moment) or what kind of lessons they would teach (not in the moment, and everyone is my teacher, starting with my enemy), I cleared my mind of unpleasant expectations, irritating memories, and a list of snappy answers to heartless-sounding verbal bows and arrows, turning instead to the power of zero and Ho’oponopono. No sooner had I wiped my memory slate positive that these two prosecutors tried throwing no darts my way. Had they just come to their senses that my ability to be an a**hole cancels out their same ability, the magic of the magic mirror, or my helping them see me not as the previous fly in their ointment but instead someone who had no need to cause any irritation other than any irritation that may be unavoidable on the road to fighting for victory. How often when one feels like a monster is chomping down on his testicles does he learn that he is the one doing the chomping? There is no out there for the mind.

I am reminded of a former lawyer with the Federal Elections Commission who told me of his encounter with an investigation subject who was cantankerous, rude, indignant; you name it. Just as Gandhi is said to have told a parent to come back in a week before he answered the parent’s request to help get her child off his chocolate addiction (because Gandhi needed first to prepare by stopping his own chocolate eating), this FEC lawyer went to his hotel at the end of the day, meditated, and cleared the clutter and cobwebs in his being. The next day, the lawyer returned to the same man who was cantankerous the previous day. With the FEC lawyer’s feeling all calm and grounded, the subject of the investigation was calm and no longer negative.

How to sustain this sense and expression of powerful calmness no matter how heartless, underhanded or foul-playing my opponent seems? As Geshe Kelsant Gyatso says: "A controlled mind will remain calm and happy no matter what the conditions." Furthermore, Ringu Tulku writes that the concept "that all phenomena are devoid of coming and going … means that an enlightened bodhisattva sees the truth, the way things are. This is seeing directly without adding any concept or philosophy. Within this clear vision there is not the slightest doubt about anything, so there is no need for clinging or running away. A realized bodhisattva has no dualistic view. Within this sheer and naked seeing, spontaneous compassion arises. Once we no longer feel compelled to cling to ourselves and fixate on our own problems all the time, we can look around and see everything clearly. We can perceive others’ lives and understand how and why they experience their problems. Although we see that others are suffering greatly, we know that their suffering is almost needless. They are not doomed to be in pain, because their suffering just comes from a wrong way of seeing and reacting. If they could see how things truly are, they would not suffer anymore. This is the understanding of an enlightened being." Ringu Tulku, Daring Steps Toward Fearlessness: The Three Vehicles of Buddhism at 58 (Snow Lion Publications, 2005).

When a prosecutor tries to get my goat, I return to the power of zero.