Dream of: 20 September 1997 "Courtroom Which Seems Like A Church"

I was practicing law again. In suit and tie, I sat in a cavernous courtroom where I had been given a job representing criminal defendants. However I wasn't in the thick of the fray. I was seated in a chair along the side of the wall, simply watching the action. My job, likewise, was peripheral: I didn't actually try the cases; I only interviewed defendants and recorded essential information. Nevertheless, even though I didn't have a central role, I liked my new job.

Judge Schwille was sitting as judge on the tall judge's bench at the foot of the room. It was Schwille who had given me my present job. It had been so many years ago since I had practiced law in his criminal court in Dallas. I had always liked Schwille, and was thankful he had given me my new job. I sat and stared at him for a long time, trying to figure out what was different about him. Finally I realized he no longer had short white hair, but rather long brown hair, which I thought he must have dyed. He also seemed taller and much younger than I remembered him. I thought I would have to mention to him later how much better he looked.

A trial was actually in progress, and I paid attention because I realized I was somehow involved. The defendant was a white woman dressed in the typical white prison-clothing. She was upset and crying. I thought about how this trial seemed much sadder than what people would normally expect. The trial proceeded very quickly, Schwille pronounced his sentence, and the people in the courtroom began moving about to leave.

As I also stood to leave, a black woman walked up to me and addressed me. I immediately recognized her as a former legal client. As she talked, she acted friendly, but she was actually talking rather harshly, and I realized she seemed to be expressing dissatisfaction with the work which I had done for her. I didn't want to continue talking with her, but I saw no way to escape.

Then suddenly I saw someone else whom I recognized in the crowd: Staggs (a friend from high school). He looked as if he were in his late 20s. Except for a class reunion, I hadn't seen Staggs since high school when we used to hang around together. When he was close enough I said hello and got his attention. He walked up to the black woman and me. Although I recognized Staggs, I couldn't remember his name and I called him "Stan." He didn't correct me, and we began talking. As I recalled, the last time I had talked with him, he had been working at installing insulation in houses. I asked him if he was still doing that, and he said no, that now he was working on motors. When he said he was working on motors, he added the words "I think" to the end of his sentence, as if he weren't even sure himself what kind of work he was doing.

I recalled that Staggs had ended up marrying Paula (a former schoolmate from high school). I also recalled once in high school, before Staggs and Paula were married, I had made out with Paula and in the process I had felt her breasts. I always remembered she had had the tiniest nipples I had ever felt. If anyone ever doubted I had felt her nipples, I could always prove it by referring to that distinguishing characteristic.

Meanwhile, I was surprised to see the black woman – my former client – had moved closer and closer to Staggs, until finally she had put one of her arms around him and pulled him to her. Just then, Staggs' wife walked up, and as if by way of introduction, somewhat maliciously, I told the black woman that this was Staggs' wife standing there. Staggs' wife was obviously upset by what she saw, and even though the black woman and Staggs quickly separated, Staggs' wife turned and walked away.

Staggs' older brother, Bill Staggs, then walked up and asked to be introduced to me. Although Bill knew me, he couldn't remember my name. I told him I had also had trouble remembering Staggs' name. I was still referring to Staggs as Stan. Bill then made a comment about the fact that when he had known me I had been a drug dealer. Even though he knew I was now a lawyer, he was trying to convey the idea that it was easy to forget the name of someone who had been a drug dealer, and that he shouldn't be expected to remember, even though I was now a lawyer.

Our conversation turned to the work I was now doing. As I began explaining my job to Staggs, I told him I would often represent people who wanted to plead guilty to criminal offenses. Many times I would try to convince them not to plead guilty because I felt it would be unwise. However I was unsure what would happen to cases where the defendants decided not to plead guilty. I didn't want to try the cases myself. Maybe I would send those cases to another attorney.

As I spoke, a startling revelation suddenly came to me: I had actually been the attorney for the woman who had earlier been on trial. That hadn't been clear to me before. I also now realized in this case I hadn't done my job, because I hadn't tried to dissuade the woman from pleading guilty. What could I do now? The phrase "incomplete sentence" began going through my mind. Thinking back on the end of the trial, I realized judge Schwille hadn't actually said he was finding the woman guilty. And the judge hadn't actually given the actual sentence. I immediately seized on this as a grounds for overturning the whole proceeding. Obviously I would have to take some kind of immediate action.

As I looked back around the courtroom, contemplating my next step, I saw that many people were now sitting in the pews, and that most of them were black. The place looked more like a church than a courtroom, and it seemed as if all the people were concentrating on some kind of religious service.

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