I’ve represented folks from all walks of life in all sorts of situations.
There are the folks who I honestly believe were in the wrong place at the wrong time or that circumstances were such that they were compelled to act in a way that they’d never done before and would never do again.
There are the charmers who know exactly what they’re doing and they do it often, but the problem is that they’re so damned adorable you just chuckle and pat them on the head like an errant child as you go in to straighten out yet another mess.
There are the dumbasses who confound me as to the fact that they had the wherewithal to [allegedly] conduct a crime when they don’t have enough sense to tie their shoes.
There are the Indignant Victim Defendants who are being framed for any number of reasons—either they didn’t do the crime at all or they were goaded into it by nefarious plotting.
There are the scary, scary, scary people who would rather kill you than look at you and, even though you represent them zealously as you were charged to do, you secretly and honestly believe that the world would be a lot safer if they never saw the outside of a prison again.
There are the ones that are completely, certifiably, 110%, 5-star crazy, crazy, crazy. I’m not talking about amusingly crazy as when a defendant acts without a lick of common sense. I’m not talking about the wild and breezy devil-may-care crazy that one tends to see with the in the dumbass college kids that flock to UNC-Weed and dive headfirst into the Rasta culture. I’m not even talking about the people who lost control in the moment and acted insanely.
No, I’m talking about the people who have mentally checked out and will never be back. Crazy people are convinced that they are perfectly sane and they think that the rest of us are nuts. The truly crazy people are the ones so convinced that they are sane that they actually get you to start believing them.
I had a guy come and see me one time with regard to a worker’s compensation case. He got a hernia as the result of doing his job. I took his information and told him what we could do and what he could expect and right before I got up to walk him out of my office, he leaned forward as if to bestow a confidence and whispered, “That’s not the real reason I came here.”
Confused, I asked, “Did you not hurt yourself while on the job?”
He said, “Yeah, yeah, I got hurt on the job and I had to have surgery and all that, but I really have a malpractice case when it comes to the surgery.”
He reached into the bag that he brought with him, pulled out a rectangular shaped box and slapped on the desk right in front of me. I took a look at it and noted that it was a box for an electric turkey carver. Although I didn’t really want to, I took a quick peek in the box and saw that the turkey carver advertised on the outside was, in fact, what was inside. I didn’t really know where to start, so I sat back and let him tell me in his own time.
The gentleman was wheeled into the operating room and, according to him, they failed to anesthetize him sufficiently so that he was awake for the whole shebang. He said that the doctor took a look at the tools that he had to work with and declared that the regular scalpel was not sufficient for his hernia operation needs. The doctor turned to one of the nurses, gave her a couple of dollars and told her to run to Roses and pick up an electric carving knife. My client insisted that he was trying to object, but he couldn’t talk.
The nurse got back with her special order and the doctor pulled it out, took a look at it, plugged it in and got right to work. Yes, my client believed that he watched himself get operated on with an electric carving knife that hadn’t even been sterilized.
The turkey carver that was sitting before me on my desk was not the actual turkey carver allegedly employed during the operation. The fellow only purchased it as a sample carver to show people what he was talking about.
After you read that, I’m sure you’re wondering how in the great wide world I could believe such an outlandish tale, but the dude was convincing. Of course, part of my brain was telling me what you are undoubtedly thinking, but the other part of my brain was getting won over by the anguish and desperation in the man’s voice. He truly honest to God believed with every fiber of his being that he had been assaulted.
The gentleman told his story with such detail that he sucked me right in. Yes, it was an absolutely absurd situation, but absurd situations happen to people all the time. Hell, as an attorney I specialize in absurd situations, so who was I to disbelieve at that point? I told him that I would take a look at his information and sent him on his way.
When my dad got back in from court, I gave him the “Holy Crap Listen to This One” spiel. Of course, as I started to tell the tale, everything sounded completely different coming out of my mouth. I sounded like a lunatic.
I learned a valuable lesson that day, but that wasn’t the last time I was sucked into Crazy Town. Every now and again, a client will be so convinced that “The People” are coming after her that I find myself looking over my shoulder during our conversation. Yep, if I’m catching the Insane Train, I might as well enjoy the ride.