Dream of: 19 June 1994 (3) "Ilia"
As I was sitting in a jail cell with several other men, surveying my situation, thinking about what I was doing here, I noticed a man standing on the other side of a counter which separated our cell from a hallway. The man (about 30 years old) was perhaps only five foot five and had dark brown curly hair six or seven inches long and sticking out in an unkempt manner all over his head. He looked vaguely familiar, and after he had laid some papers on the counter, he asked if he could speak with me. I rose, walked to the counter, and asked, "Do I know you from somewhere?"
He quickly indicated that he didn't know me, but that another man in the prison had given him my name. When he handed me some of his papers, I saw a name which I assumed was his, which looked like a Russian name, the first of which appeared to be "Ilia."
He quickly got to the point. He had been sued and the papers were the petition against him. He wanted me to be his attorney and represent him. As I took the papers in hand and began reading, many thoughts went through my mind. Unlike the dread I normally felt when asked to read legal documents, I felt a sense of excitement at the prospect of working on this case. I read slowly and carefully, thinking I didn't have to be in any rush here; both of us were in prison with all the time in the world. At one point I turned to the others in my cell and said I now understood why I had heard so much publicity lately about prisoners filing law suits – there was nothing else to do while in prison.
So as I read, even before I said anything to my little, curly-haired, Russian friend, I had already decided I was going to represent him. What I most felt as I labored over the words was that this was going to be fun.
The first thing I noticed printed in the upper left corner was the name of the lawyer, which I thought I recognized as someone with whom I had come in contact before. I began reading the petition and quickly saw an error – the word "of" was misspelled. The sentence containing the misspelled word also seemed to be grammatically incorrect and was difficult to read. I slowly plodded on, beginning to get the gist of the petition, but still not fully understanding it. Basically, it appeared to me that my soon-to-be client had agreed to pay someone to go out on a date with him, but then hadn't paid for the service.
I turned to "Ilia" and asked him to tell me in his own words exactly what had happened. He quickly began speaking in such a way that I couldn't really understand what he was saying. I stopped him and told him to simply answer my questions, thinking to myself that this was exactly the way it would be handled in court, by question and answer.
As he began responding to my questions, I began to glean several facts. He had indeed called some kind of escort agency and contracted to hire a woman to be his escort for a night. However he hadn't been able to arrive at the scheduled time. He explained that the escort service didn't actually have an office, but could only be reached by phone. However the phone was never actually answered in person. Apparently only messages could only be left on an answering machine. This fact, although I didn't understand exactly how, had caused part of the problem, and "Ilia" said part of what was said in the petition about the way the phone was answered wasn't true. At any rate, "Ilia" never went on the date.
"Ilia" also mentioned that he belonged to a gang which all had "hogs." I understood that "hogs" were motorcycles, and I asked him if he belonged to a motorcycle gang. When he said that was correct, I hesitated for a moment, thinking a jury would react adversely to someone in a motorcycle gang. But I immediately decided it didn't matter. After all, the other side was just some sleazy escort service.
I was also thinking to myself that since this was a civil law suit, it probably didn't matter if a judgment was taken against "Ilia." He would never have to pay it. But I was having so much fun thinking of working on the case, I decided to handle it anyway. I was even thinking that since I was probably the only lawyer in this prison, I might soon have other clients to represent.
Where was the law library, I wondered. And would it be cooler there? Would it have air conditioning? I started pulling at the light-blue sweater I was wearing, wanting to take it off, because it had suddenly become quite warm in my cell. I was thinking the library might be more comfortable.
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