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“There is never any end. There are always new sounds to imagine”

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Sketch by John Iorio

Not long ago, a burnt-out appearing lawyer expressed cynical surprise that I continue getting a big charge out of fighting for criminal clients. He said something along the lines that after practicing over ten years, I will see what he means; at the time, I was approaching fifteen years of criminal defense practice. Criminal defense practice is not for everybody, but it is definitely for me.

Helping keep me rearing to go each day are the often boundless possibilities for obtaining justice for clients — often with inspiration from great visual and performing artists — and the deep caring I feel for my clients. Among artists, none have inspired my criminal defense practice more than John Coltrane.

Trane once said: "There is never any end. There are always new sounds to imagine; new feelings to get at. And always, there is the need to keep purifying these feelings and sounds so that we can really see what we’ve discovered in its pure state. So that we can see more and more clearly what we are. In that way, we can give to those who listen the essence, the best of what we are. But to do that at each stage, we have to keep on cleaning the mirror."

Similarly with criminal defense practice, no two clients nor cases are alike. There are always new possibilities to visualize and apply for fighting for justice. Always there is room for improvement, in a never-ending process forward.

What does Trane mean about needing to "keep on cleaning the mirror?" I suppose he means that we need to see ourselves not only for who we are, but also how others perceive us, where we have come from, where we are headed, and where we might change where we are headed.

John Iorio is a fellow Trane fan and fellow creator. His above-displayed recent sketch of Trane captures the man’s essence, even though John and I both were too young when Trane died in 1967 to have experienced him live. He and I benefit, of course, from the vibrations of Trane, who said: "One thought can produce a million vibrations."

Jon Katz