Dream of:23 June 2001 "Utter Hopelessness"
It was Monday morning. On Friday I had made a big mistake: while visiting another city, I had gone to the federal courthouse and visited a federal courtroom. While I was in the courtroom, a woman charged with murder had been led into the courtroom and I had put my name on a form to be her attorney and represent her in her murder case. Why had I done such a stupid thing? Now, Monday morning, I was anxious to withdraw from the case. My mother was with me. We were only going to be in this city for a few days, and I definitely wasn't prepared to defend someone in a murder case. The two of us hurried along snow-covered streets toward the courthouse.
When we arrived at the courthouse, we went straight to the courtroom and found it full of people; a hearing in my case was already in progress. I quickly learned that this was a very high profile case and that a dozen or more attorneys were defending the woman. As I took a seat in the back of the courtroom and listened to the proceedings, my main concern was still that I was considered an attorney of record. Even though so many other attorneys were on the case, I could still be held accountable unless I withdrew. The judge (who resembled judge Gaither) was listening to a motion to give the defense more time to prepare for the case. Apparently the trial was scheduled to begin almost immediately. Even all these defense attorneys didn't have time to prepare for the intricacies of such a difficult case! At least I was relieved to see so many other attorneys; surely I wouldn't be needed. But I recalled I had been the first person to sign the form to represent the woman; therefore I might still be considered the lead attorney. I definitely needed to remove my name from the list of defense attorneys.
I finally stood up, left my mother in the rear of the courtroom, and walked down closer to the front, where I was surprised to find several empty seats. I even saw some seats were open at the counsel table; but I definitely didn't want to sit there. Haim Habib (an attorney whom I first met at law school in 1981) was one of the defense attorneys. He was busily taking notes, like the other attorneys. He looked in his 50s, much older than when I had known him in law school. He looked distinguished and I imagined he had done well as a lawyer over the years, probably hard-working.
Abruptly the hearing ended. I wondered if I could simply approach the judge and ask to be withdrawn. I knew such a request was normally required to be in writing, but I recalled having often made oral requests in bankruptcy court when I had practiced there, and bankruptcy court was a federal court. Perhaps the judge would allow an oral request. As the attorneys filed away from the counsel table I walked over to the table, and noticing some papers, I picked up one. It was a list of the defense attorneys! I scanned the list for my name, "Collier." I looked over the list several times and several times I thought I saw my name, but then each time realized I hadn't. I could hardly believe it: my name wasn't on the list! Finally I realized what must have happened: since the case was so high profile and so many attorneys had probably requested to represent the defendant, I hadn't even been chosen. It appeared my worries were over. I wouldn't have to make any kind of motion, oral or otherwise. What a huge relief!
The defendant was being led out of the courtroom. She was a bleachblonde, probably in her mid 20s. She looked frightened. Suddenly, to my utter surprise the judge stepped down from the bench, walked over to the defendant, picked her up and slung her over his shoulder. He indicated he would accompany the defendant back to her cell. He walked over to an elevator and disappeared with the defendant behind the elevator door. Everyone in the courtroom appeared befuddled: this wasn't typical behavior for a judge, but no one was prepared to do anything. I stepped over to the wall near the elevator, and to my surprise, I discovered I could peer over the wall like looking over a balcony and see into the area where the elevator was. There, to my open view, was the judge and the defendant, now standing beside the judge in the elevator. I was shocked by what I saw next: as the defendant stood in front of the judge with her hands handcuffed behind her back, the judge abruptly knocked his forehead against the forehead of the woman, obviously causing her great pain. The judge then proceeded to viciously beat the woman until she fell to the ground. The woman had a look of utter terror on her face. She also had another look which I had seen before in people: a look of realization that she had done something which she could never undo, something for which she would be punished for the rest of her life, and for which there was no hope of escape: a look of utter hopelessness.
Suddenly I remembered some details of her case: she had murdered a judge! There was no doubt she was guilty; and the murder of the judge had caused the case to be high profile. Obviously this judge was angry because of his affinity to judges; he was meting out his own private revenge. Nevertheless, I thought whatever she had done, she shouldn't be beaten like that. What could I do? The beating was finished; the judge had stopped. Should I report him? He would simply deny the beating, and who would believe my word against a federal judge? Most people would probably think the woman had deserved the beating anyway. I didn't think so; the beating was a sickening site, especially when I thought of the hopeless look on the woman's face. But I would report the beating to no one.
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