Monday, November 28, 2011

On Enui Oui (<- don't judge me for thinking that's funny)

I am often asked what the difference is between an attorney and a lawyer. My response is usually pretty simple: There is none. But to my internal embarrassment I was never really sure whether that was the case, except that both my parents are also Lawyer/Attorneys, so I do know that the words are often used interchangeably. So for this week's post I decided to not only publicly announce my ignorance but remedy it through researching the origins of these two words. This eases my conscience in two ways, first, of potentially misleading people and of the greater sin of acting like I knew something when I did not. (I'm sure none of you have ever done this and I apologize for my absurdly base behavior)  FYI, by "research" I mean google. And by "Google" I mean "Bing." (But whoever wants to say "I binged it" that is just crazy, grade A, jib-jab, nonsensical, foolishness! Yeah. All of those things.... ) (but I digress, I'm losing focus... and its not because of the exorbitant amount of NyQuil I have been taking to try and get over my cold...ok maybe it is related.... what was I writing about? My editor is gonna kill me)....

 (editor = sober Me)

("sober" meaning off  my NyQuil buzz)

(Yes, I do try to re-read and edit these before I post, and yes, I miss stuff. Thanks for pointing it out.)


 (Just kidding earlier, by the way, I don't drink (NyQuil) and blog.)

(Although, it worked for Hemingway and Absinthe, and I may be persuaded to believe that NyQuil is absinthe re-marketed.)

(Just sayin' the stuff messes with you.)

Ahem, the results of my bing/google search on attorney/lawyer etymology (*big word high five*) are as follows:

Webster believes them to be synonyms. *sigh of relief* (which I believe to be a most reputable source) says that while they are used similarly, in the past they had slightly different connotations, a lawyer is one who can give legal advice and has been trained in the law, while an attorney is one who is legally empowered to represent someone (ei power of attorney rather than power of lawyer...) straightdope also notes that the Brits also have different terms for lawyers. A solicitor for example is one who does mostly office work, like drafting documents and such, while a barrister is one who does trial work. (Silly Brits, making up weird words for stuff. Like they invented the language or something. Next they will be calling french fries chips and fish... er... fish...  the last one is, admittedly, not a great example.)

                       (They are clearly amused by my musings)

WikiAnswers says they are interchangeable terms. Boring. But it does give me a link to a DUI defense attorney. Spot on. Exactly what I needed internet-side-links-that-are-loosely-related-to-subject-matter-of-my-search. (Whoa that was way to many words strung together. I apologize. I'm out of breath just reading it to myself. Do yourself a favor and don't read that last strung together part out loud. You might die. Fair warning.) says the word "attorney" has French origins (eh oui oui Monsieur Ennui....  Ben Mooneyham knows what I'm talking about. ) and means an agent or person acting for another. Lawyer is, apparently, from Middle English....

Anyone know the Russian word for Lawyer? More on that later.

Blog post concluded.


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

On Muggles, Fear, and Rail Spikes

Last year before I became the (famous) lawyer I am today, I was a law clerk for the local district court. This is a tale from working at that Court. The names have been changed to protect the innocent (but mostly because I don't remember them). I write with the caveat that I had no special knowledge of this case nor did I ever work on it, I simply observed in the court room as we sometimes were allowed to do.

 One day, I was working especially hard on a most difficult case (see this post is already hilarious), when a Judge came down to the basement of the court house where we law clerks are unceremoniously stuffed. (We had no windows to prove it was still daylight outside. We called it the Justice Cave). He explained that his next case was probably going to be entertaining because the defendant had freaked out on a different judge in a different matter.

Apparently, the defendant, who we will call "Melvin" had used all kinds of colorful language to describe the previous judge and she was... less than pleased. I'm pretty sure he was held in contempt and, in all likelihood, he extended his sentence quite a bit. But, for us who had not seen the sun, this sounded like a fantastic break from our usual day of writing and reading, I mean who wouldn't want to see some crazy guy freak out in a court room? What we witnessed that day was more than I could have hoped for.

The defense attorney was the only one in the court room when four law clerks piled into the back to watch what was surely going to be a really bad day for this poor public defender. He knew what we were up to. He looked clearly defeated. He asked us, "Are you guys here for the show?" We explained we were law clerks and part of our job was that we had to opportunity to watch court every once and a while. He said, "Yeah, alright. Well since your here to learn, the theme for my argument today is 'why I should have gone to medical school.'" He was having a rough week. But little did he know his day was going to get a little better later on, but I'll get to that.

 The prosecutor came in and just started chuckling at the defense attorney, but not in a mean way, it was purely sympathetic chuckling. He asked the defense attorney what he had done when Melvin started on his tirade. The public defender replied, "I just kept my head down and pretended like I was taking notes. It was all I could do." The defendant was then brought into the court room. He was a short man. Clean shaven. Not at all what I was expecting from a man who was on trial for criminal threat, because he pointed a knife at someones throat. OH, yeah, "allegedly" pointed a knife. (whew! can't forget that one).

 The the Judge came in, and we all stood. Even Melvin.

 The Prosecution called his first witness, who was the victim. Again, not what I was expecting. The victim, who we will call Bud, was in his late 50's, had a completely gray mullet down half of his back, a creepy mustache, and was wearing a fine brown t-shirt that stated plainly his identity,


 (For those of you who aren't nerds that is a non-magical person from Harry Potter.)

 It came out during questioning that they were both homeless and lived outside this third mans home which occasionally would rent the back room to these gentlemen. The landowner had two daughters. (The source of the gentlemen's conflict. See this is almost Shakespearean). Bud had made an inappropriate comment about one of the daughters figure which he unceremoniously repeated, verbatim, to the courtroom. (which was funny in itself because he said, how do I put this delicately ... an then just blurted out the vulgarity).

Bud continued his harrowing story of how Melvin and he had gotten into an argument about the landlord's daughter. Only to pause every once and a while, stare at the Defendant and declare, "WELL THAT'S WHAT HAPPENED MELVIN! I'M SORRY IT COME TO THIS, BUT THAT'S WHAT HAPPENED."

Then we came to the climax of the story.

 Melvin had drawn his knife and stuck it to Bud's throat, in defense of the daughter's dignity!

The prosecutor asked the crucial question in a criminal threat case, "Now, when Melvin had the knife to your throat, were you scared he might stab you?" (this is important because one of the elements of the crime is that he was in fear or apprehension of bodily harm.) (Also, Objection! Leading! Anyone?)

 Bud sits and thinks. He thinks some more. Something about that phrase bothers him. "Was I scared?" he thinks silently to himself.

 He responds to the court room, saving, in his mind, his dignity, "Nah...I wasn't scared." (Insert Perry Mason Gasp) (Well...if Perry Mason defended the three stooges)

 "You weren't scared?"

 "no, ya see, I had a rail my back pocket. I knew that if Melvin tried to get me, I could, *motions stabbing to the court room* get 'em time." (SERIOUSLY HE MADE A STABBING MOTION IN THE COURT ROOM. Presumably to demonstrate his considerable nimbleness.)

 That's right Topeka, your harmless homeless neighborhood Bud, carries with him a rail-spike, but fear not, its only for defense against Melvin.

Well now that the prosecutions case was shot to hell, the Defense counsel looked down right chipper!

 On his cross examination we heard all about the rail spike and its defensive capabilities. And how it made Bud impervious to fear. Bud was practically a super hero defending the streets from evil with his rail spike by the end of the cross. (maybe that's just in my mind: Bud, who's secret identity is "spike-man"! The silver-mulleted man with a mustache, keeping our streets safe.)

 Now the prosecution called Melvin to the stand. ..whose meandering testimony featured, his favorite drink of choice, Earthquake. (12.5% alcohol per volume for only 2 bucks, they call it a "High Gravity Lager" I think they mean: "high tectonic stress lager" but I won't fault them for mixing metaphors, their target market is homeless people and college students. Markets that, by the way, overlap a lot...)

 Another major issue in the case became why Melvin cussed out the police when they arrested him. The answer was simple to Melvin: they made him put down his taco in order to handcuff him.


 I think this is only explained by the fact that the prosecutor was bored or depressed he was losing or something, but we heard more about that taco than I ever thought possible in a court of law. Made me hungry.

But alas, nothing in Melvin's testimony could save the prosecutions case, not even the taco. (Not to mention Melvin had awareness enough to realize things were going well for him and cussing out the judge was not presently necessary).

The assistant prosecutor ultimately had to motion for a change in the charges. I never learned what happened after that hearing. But I like to think that Bud and Melvin buried the hatchet, (or rail spike, as the case may be) and made amends over a taco and earthquake. Both do not sound too bad right now.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

On Why Mankind Will Not Survive the Coming Robot Apocalypse

I recently went to Wendy's for lunch.

("How mundane! How ordinary! Why is he telling this story!", the reader thinks to herself <--note how progressive I am for inserting the female pronoun.)

BUT something funny happened! There was a long line! Half of downtown eats at this particular Wendy's so of course, this is not unusual or funny, but be patient! What is interesting about this long line is that it was formed in front of the fountain drink machine as opposed to the cash register. "Why?" You ask yourself, as I did. "Why would there be a longer line in front of the pop machine than in line for ordering?!" The answer to this question is, ultimately, why human kind will lose its impending battle with the machines for dominance on the earth.

This new pop machine had: one dispenser for all drinks and ice, a touch screen to select the type of beverage desired, an additional touch screen for any added flavors and a sarcastic, smug attitude. This complex scheme of touch screens and single dispenser was too much for us, the lunch crowd at Wendy's. We were utterly befuddled.

Below is a word description of the process that was confounding the elite of my fair city. Lest anyone think I am condescending, I gather this sequence from my own personal experience. (E.I. I am dumb too)

"I... why... do I. Where do I get ice? Why is there a computer screen? Oh... ice button."

*pushes Ice Button with meat mitten (or hand in the vernacular)*

"But, uh, where do I get my tasty beverage?!"


"OK back out of ice screen."

"What do I want to drink?"

"Well I want coke, but my pants are tight. Go for diet. But that's embarrassing.... Maybe Coke zero? yes, no one will know I'm a fat ass! Perfect! Select."

I now have the coke zero display up... no... NO! MORE CHOICES... the Coke zero button is surounded by things like "coke zero with cherry, coke zero with Lemon" There are 12 additives for my beverage choice. That's 12 more decisions than I was expecting today. Clearly, way too much pressure. So I hit the center button got my drink and told the next person, "good luck." It was an old lady. That is just mean. She should have just gone for dehydration.

On the bright side, I'm pretty sure if Wendy's had wi-fi I could send an e-mail from the drink machine. (drum strikes for the one liner please)

The real problem is of course the machine designer. He had too much faith in us. We, who are accustomed to simply and lackadaisically presenting our paper cup to an outdated mechanical lever which serendipitously pours things what we wish to imbibe, were not ready for his version of the future. (<--note lack progressiveness with assuming the designer was a man). Instead his vision of a Utopia unlimited drink choices became a dis-topian line of confusion.

A dis-topia where we are bested regularly by machines and optimistic male drink engineers.


Wednesday, November 2, 2011


I moved into a new house, graduated, took and passed the bar and started a new career as an attorney. Not necessarily in that order. Ok pretty close to that order other than the house thing. Being a lawyer in Topeka Kansas has its upside. I don't get overworked. I am 15 minutes from my office. I can walk to the courthouse. But sometimes I think it would be fun to be a big city attorney.

Now that you, dear but in all likelihood fictional reader, are caught up. The real question is have I had any funny things happened to me recently. Nope. not really. There is nothing funny about the bar exam. Except the quiet (and sometimes not so quiet) desperation I felt in the weeks coming up to it. Hideous. Totally Hideous. Yeah that's not funny.

I think maybe I'll write something about halloween. I dressed as superman. (see awesome photo above.)