One Hand Clapping

Opinion: Trolls, Taunting And A Very Taxing Year

, The Connecticut Law Tribune


Norm Pattis

Every so often the deadline approaches for this weekly column and I am without any sense of urgency. The thought occurs to me to stop writing. But the last time I did that, some six or so years ago, I was surprised by the number of folks who wrote or called to ask why I was stopping. I figured if folks were actually reading me, I'd better keep writing. I returned after only a few weeks "retirement," warmed by what I saw at my own wake.

So I am prying myself off the wall to write this today, filling space with words to keep my place on these pages. I think I am somewhere into the 14th or 15th year of writing weekly.

It's been a bitch of a year. I've tried a series of criminal cases from one end of the state to the other. While I've won a goodly share of counts in these cases, my clients were incarcerated in each case. I get taunting hate mail from trolls, one fellow wondering why anyone would hire me, given all these losses.

Some days I ask myself that very question.

I drove home from my last trial wondering whether I'd ever try another case. It hardly seemed worth the effort, the long nights, the tossing, the turning, the thousand and one imponderable and unanswerable questions that are the daily life of being in trial. I'm a fool for my clients. By the time a case goes to a verdict, I've generally persuaded myself that the client cannot be convicted.

Juries don't share that confidence, apparently.

In a recent trial, the investigator for the state and I talked a lot of trash.

"What are you doing?" he would ask. "Why won't you let your client plead?"

"I'll tell you what," I responded. "I will plead guilty for him, if you will serve his time."


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