Dan. K's Inferno

Opinion: Giving Thanks For Patient Clients And Free Speech

, The Connecticut Law Tribune

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Dan Krisch

I am thankful for the patience of my criminal clients. I have a penchant, so it seems, for losing criminal appeals in the Appellate Court and then convincing the Supreme Court to grant certification.

Daniel Krisch is a partner at Halloran & Sage LLP in Hartford, where his practice focuses on appellate and civil litigation. His e-mail address is krisch@halloran-sage.com and you can learn more about him at www.halloran-sage.com.

I am giving thanks.

• I am thankful that marriage equality is now the law in 16 states and that the number seems to increase every week. When our Supreme Court decided Kerrigan a scant five years ago, Connecticut was an outlier. A pioneer venturing into unknown and hostile territory. But now, the momentum is all on one side. The right side. The side of civil rights for every loving, committed couple.

• I am thankful for the patience of my criminal clients. I have a penchant, so it seems, for losing criminal appeals in the Appellate Court and then convincing the Supreme Court to grant certification. Justice is a welcome guest no matter when it knocks, but, to paraphrase Kevin Bacon, time just stands still in prison. And for two of my clients in particular, time has been frozen in place for more than four years now – yet they remain hopeful, polite, respectful and supportive. I am not sure I would have the courage to behave similarly were our positions reversed.

• I am thankful that 52 senators decided – at long last – that the business of the government is to govern and so faced down a truculent, obstructionist minority. Washington has become like Htrae of late (non-comic book nerds should look it up when you're done reading): a backwards world in which dogma trumps reason and nothing gets accomplished. In no aspect of governance was that felt more than in the absurd, unwritten rule that it should require 60 votes rather than 51 to approve a president's judicial and executive appointments. Mercifully, the Senate finally has consigned that pernicious notion to the trash heap of history – and I implore the current Democratic majority not to forget its own wisdom if it finds itself in the minority again. You did right, Harry Reid, so have the backbone to stand by your principles even if (when) it becomes inconvenient.

• I am thsnkful thankful for spell-check. And for anyone who laughs at recycled jokes.

• I am thankful for Norm Pattis. Norm is our own Devil's Advocate. He shoulders a burden few want, but that justice requires: battling to the death for the unsavory and the loathed. And Norm's weekly missives in this publication bring to mind Lord Morley's comment that he enjoyed reading Lord Salisbury's speeches because "they were sure to contain one blazing indiscretion which it is a delight to remember." So, too, Norm's columns; I typically read the Law Tribune back to front, eager to learn which sacred cow Norm is attempting to grind into hamburger that week. To be sure, Norm sometimes cuts a bit too close to the bone, but it takes big intellectual cojones to take the Supreme Court to task for reversing the convictions of a former client because (in Norm's view) the ruling would handcuff zealous trial advocacy.

• I am thankful that I got to know Justice Flemming Norcott Jr., gone from the Connecticut bench and sorely missed. Justice Norcott's retirement party was a vision of diversity and community as it could be, should be and occasionally was and is. The man who united all of that humanity embodies everything that we want for America: a land of principle and equality, a land that rewards ability and encourages bonds between people regardless of race, or class, or creed.

• I am thankful for Bruce Springsteen, Pearl Jam, the Stones, the Beatles, Aretha Franklin, Marvin Gaye, Bob Dylan, B.B. King, Public Enemy, Nirvana, Alabama Shakes, U2, TV on the Radio, The National, Otis Redding's cover of "White Christmas," Cat Power's cover of "Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again," and anyone else whose music I have mangled in an off-key shower serenade.

• I am thankful for the First Amendment. We sometimes take free speech and a free press for granted in America, but, in other parts of the world, they have more enemies than C. Montgomery Burns. They jail and murder journalists in Russia and stone intellectuals in Afghanistan and police thoughts in North Korea. Even Western Europe is not immune; prior restraint of unpopular opinions – branded hate speech the moment the first nose slips out of joint – is, sadly, often the order of the day across the pond. Thankfully, our Founding Fathers knew that all other freedoms spring from the freedom to say and write what you think. Period.

• Most of all, I am thankful for Sophia, my muse, who makes me a happier person every day.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. Save me the drumstick.

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