I went ahead and got myself admitted to practice law in the Southern and Eastern Districts of New York. I was looking for new challenges. My primary interest is in criminal cases, and I've got a doozy more defendants that you can easily shake a stick at, all charged with defrauding insurance companies. A parallel piece of litigation is a civil action arising out of claims related to the criminal case.
I'd heard stories about the New York bar before, and I wasn't sure whether to believe them. The criminal bar seems all right. The guys and gals in the Southern District are pretty headstrong, but it is Manhattan. I like them. They seem like straight shooters, even if they are shooting to kill.
The civil side of things seems, well, down right uncivil. I can't tell whether I've got a rogue wing nut on the other side of my case, or whether all lawyers in the Big Apple are simply surly. Just the other day, I filed a motion to continue a pre-trial conference because I am in the midst of a jury trial here in Connecticut and cannot be in two places at once. My adversary immediately filed an objection. Not long ago I filed a motion to join a co-defendant's motion to compel arbitration. Again, an immediate objection. I have the sense this keyboard whizz kid lurks at his computer all day, just itching to bill an hour or so objecting to everything.
Perhaps things are too easy here in Connecticut. The bar is largely civil here.
I'm in trial just now with Peter Jongbloed and Doug Morabito from the Connecticut U.S. Attorney's Office. They are good lawyers and tough adversaries, but they also recognize the brotherhood of officers of the court. I suppose a New York lawyer would view them as hayseeds. So much the worse for New York, I say.
It ought not be impossible to be a good lawyer and a good human being.
One of the best lawyers and human beings I know is leaving the practice of law, and I am heartbroken. Oh, she'll still be around, but she'll be wearing a robe from now on, assuming the General Assembly confirms her nomination to the bench.
I am referring to Hope Seeley. Her departure from the practice of the criminal law will create an intellectual and moral vacuum that will not easily be filled.
I was sitting in court the other day when a prosecutor checked his BlackBerry. There was the news in black and white. Hope a judge. We both passed notes back and forth thereafter, lamenting the loss of this good woman from the law's trenches.
My hope was that she would become a federal judge; there is a vacancy on the District Court, after all. So I should not have been crestfallen by the news that she is leaving the well of the court. But I am. I've come to rely on her good judgment and good sense when I need a second opinion. And, after trying a case with her, I've come to admire her work ethic and good sense. I will miss her.
So it goes. New challenges. Old friends move on. And always the endless rhythm of cases, controversies and conflict. The fellow looking back at me in the mirror suddenly seems grayer, and the workload more oppressive. Have things changed? I suspect not. But who are all these kids wandering the courthouse halls with their new briefcases?
Norm Pattis is a criminal defense attorney and civil rights lawyer in Bethany. Most days he blogs at www.pattisblog.com.