Tuesday, March 21, 2006

(Not) touched by an angel

I have learned lately that angels come in all shapes and sizes and where you least expect them. Some people can smell vulnerability from a mile away and use it for their own purposes. Others see an opportunity to help and actually use it to help. What motivates people to do this? I don't know. But I do know that I am lucky enough to have two such career angels and that I don't really deserve either of them. But I guess that's how it works.

One of my angels works at a big firm. His firm is done hiring for the year, but he's been aggressively sending my resume out and has gotten me an interview at a place I would probably be quite happy working. They're not hiring right now but I know that if they are in the future, they will probably call me. This is partly because I had a good interview, but mostly because he is helping.

The other angel works at my DA's office. He has taken me under his wing and has become my de facto mentor. Every day I'm at the office he touches base with me, never inappropriately, but in a caring and helpful way. When I had a case that was going to go to trial, he took his lunch break on Friday and sat down with me to help me plan out my case. He took me out to lunch to discuss my career plans and wants me to talk to a woman ADA because he knows that he can't give me that perspective on the office. He is 6'5", black, intimidating as hell, and when he did a direct examination of a 14 year old girl in court today, was kind, sensitive, and spoke in such an age-appropriate way that he almost sounded like a teenager himself.

I know that I'm very lucky to have people pulling for me. Especially in light of the fact that I got an email from the career office directed at 3Ls, advertising a summer internship at a (minor) fashion house. Don't worry, it's unpaid. And don't even ask me to explain why it was sent to 3Ls when there is a little thing called the BAR EXAM happening this summer. So, yeah. I guess I have my angels for a reason!

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Big brother is watching (hopefully)

I am presently taking a privacy law class that for some reason comes under the "intellectual property" umbrella, but is actually much closer to a class in social and political philosophy I took as a junior in college. Except the people in my social and political philosophy class were a) smarter, b) more open-minded, and c) more intellectually honest than the people in this theoretically elite, upper-level class. I can hardly believe some of the shit that comes out of these people's mouths and I find myself somewhat speechless during the class, which I have come to dread. (I knew I should have just taken a normal, no-attendance-required class with a multiple choice final. Dammit. But that's neither here nor there.)

For example, lest you think I am exaggerating, allow me to compare and contrast two cases we have studied for you along with the class consensus as to whether "they came out right" or not. (Everyone's a critic.)

In one case, the Supreme Court struck down a state law that forbade newspapers from publishing a rape victim's full name. The First Amendment freedom of the press was balanced against society's interest in protecting the victim and/or the victim's family from further pain and public exposure. Freedom of the press won. The class was quite content with this, and with the idea that the press should be the only ones to judge what is or is not appropriate for publication.

In another, the Supreme Court held that where a man had robbed a woman's house, and then harassed her by various means including telephone stalking, the Fourth Amendment was not violated when the police attached a device to his phone line that could tell what numbers he had been dialing (no content, just the numbers). The robber's expectation of privacy in the numbers he chose to dial was balanced against the need for accurate law enforcement data. The law enforcement won. The class was absolutely beside themselves with anger.

Let me get this straight!

Somehow, liberal politics dictates a hierarchy wherein the First Amendment comes first; the individual's me-me-me right to do whatever, despite any number of negative externalities, comes second; and law enforcement comes third. This makes no sense to me at all. Nobody likes being insecure in their own homes and worrying about whether the government is "watching," but if you can't sleep in your own bed without worrying about whether someone will come in and kill you and then get away with it scot-free because his rights trump yours, then I don't see how exactly those rights help the law-abiding, generally decent human being. It's always said that rights don't mean much unless you're alive to enjoy them. I have to agree.

If I have to choose between the government "watch" me (which, unless I'm operating some kind of drug ring out of my apartment, they probably have no incentive whatsoever to do) and having criminals run around in a consequence-free vacuum because the police can never catch them, then here I am, government! Watch away.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

I hate crime

This semester, I've been working at a borough district attorney's office. Suffice it to say that I love it. It's easily the best internship I've ever had, which is why I've kept my mouth shut up until now. It's just that much easier to complain.

But one thing I will say is that people have come at me lately with all sorts of snide comments about how prosecutors are so judgmental, and how they just couldn't choose sides like that. I'm well aware of the usual arguments in favor of criminal defense work: you're not protecting the defendant, but rather the Constitution; you don't want the innocent to get locked up; even the most horrible person should be given the presumption of innocence; blah blah blah blah. To all those who believe any of those things, I say, go spend an afternoon in the criminal court. Better yet, leave your purse on a bench in a courtroom within the criminal court and go away for ten minutes. Come back and let me know if you feel the same way.

Someone said, "I just couldn't sit in judgment of people. Just because someone does something bad doesn't mean they deserve to go to jail - we all make mistakes."

Yes, we all do make mistakes, and I know that I couldn't judge people either. That is why it's not a prosecutor's job to judge people. It's a prosecutor's job to assess crimes. There's a difference. At a certain moment, everyone makes a choice: do I take this gun and shoot this Dunkin Donuts employee for the $50 in the cash register? Do I sell this gram of cocaine, knowing that someone may overdose on it? Do I smoke crack on a street corner? At that moment, if the answer is "yes," then that act is susceptible to being judged. And I don't care what anybody says, if you do something heinous and illegal, you deserve to go to jail. I don't care who you are. I don't care where you come from. If you fuck with society, as far as I'm concerned, you're done.

Nobody is perfect, and nobody should pretend to be G-d and judge others. That's why, luckily, no one is required to do that. (Least of all me, because obviously I'm harsher than most.) But I do believe that some acts are inherently bad, and some people are too - but that's just harder to tell. That's why I confine myself to worrying about those acts, and not feeling bad for the people who commit them.

That's my Law and Order morality for today.
Website Counter
Website Counter