One L(ove)

December 23, 2008

Ah, Billie Holiday! Could There Ever Be Anyone Sweeter Than You?

Filed under: Uncategorized — galileehitchhiker @ 11:06 pm
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Sorry for not updating in so long. I’ve been incredibly busy these past few days preparing for today. Today was the day of the claimant’s hearing. It was also the first day I ever wore a suit. I had to wear one in front of the judge. Although it looked nice, for some strange reason I felt like Dostoyevsky on that life-changing day when wearing it — especially due to the tie! I arrived at the Department of Labor in Garden City around 8:15 a.m. I read over the direct and cross questions (about 80 of them altogether) in the car, staring at the rearview mirror to practice (if my advisor reads this blog, I’m so going to get in trouble). I met the claimant in the waiting room at 8:30 a.m. and we went over the questions I prepared. She was really nervous, but after a couple of jokes, I kind of got her to relax a little. Approximately at 9 a.m., one of the managers (representing the employer’s side and opposing the claimant’s desire to obtain unemployment benefits) showed up. She totally freaked when she saw me. Little did she know that this was my first case and that I had only finished one semester of law school so far. I felt a boost of confidence after that and my nervousness subsided somewhat. However, it returned when that manager and another showed up with their representative at 9:30 a.m. He’s a commercial litigator from Great Neck with 30+ years of experience. Needless to say, it was my turn to be freaked out. But incredibly, I kept myself calm. The attorney had the managers step outside of the waiting room and told them that he’ll get them at 10 a.m., the time the hearing was scheduled. He returned and took out a copy of a McKinney’s in front of us, looking at statutes (blatantly a maneuver to intimidate us). Few minutes before 10 a.m., I heard the sound of a saxophone coming from the speaker in the waiting room of the Unemployment hearing. I listened closely and heard that beautiful, sweet, and distinctive voice of Billie Holiday. It was her song “Lover Man” playing — one of my favorite songs ever. It put a huge smile on my face. At 10 a.m. sharp, the judge called us all into her office to start the hearing. The setting was really informal. It took place in the judge’s office and we all sat a table. The judge turned on the tape recorder and explained the procedure. After she finished doing that, she began asking the claimant questions. She pretty much asked majority of the questions I had prepared to ask the claimant on the direct. After the judge was done, she asked if I had any questions I needed to ask the claimant for the direct, I said “yes,” and she let me start. The attorney kept on objecting to my questions but the judge was cool, she kept on overruling them. One of them, she sustained because I phrased it in a leading manner which you can’t ask during the direct. After I was done, the attorney did his cross. Here, the most embarassing thing happened. I objected to the first question he asked the claimant. The judge asked for my reason and I said “Isn’t that leading?” The judge looked at me, smiled, and said, “This is cross-examination.” I totally forgot. I must have looked like a fool. My advisor and the attorneys that work in the law firm I work in had a good laugh when I told them about it later on. Something came up in the claimant’s testimony which made the judge modify the case by adding an additional element that I had to prove on behalf of the claimant. Great! After a brief recess and questioning the claimant, I decided to not go with the adjournment that was offered by the judge and decided to go ahead with the proceeding. Then came the office manager of the employer’s side. After she was sworn in, the attorney did the direct. Afterwards, I did my cross. I totally annihilated the office manager. I didn’t use any of the cross questions I had prepared prior to the hearing. I just used the words she gave in the direct against her. I made her stumble over her own sentences, made her contradict herself, and made her quiet. It felt really good. Although she seemed like a sweet woman (I bet she is), you have to lay a trap for the witness of the otherside in a cross. And the great thing is that she fell right in it. Unfortunately, I didn’t have as much luck with the other manager. I couldn’t get anything out of her but you could tell that the judge was getting frustrated with this witness when the judge was questioning her. Afterwards, we were given an opportunity to make our closing statements. The attorney went first and then I did. It all came to an end at 12:30 p.m. We were told that we will find out about the judge’s decision two to three weeks from now. I asked the claimant how she felt about the hearing and she said that she’s not sure, it’s too close to call. I agree. It could go either way. I felt that the attorney exposed some of the weaknesses in my legal theory and I felt I exposed some of his. Wouldn’t it be a great story to tell that a law student who has studied law only for one semester beating an attorney with 30+ years of experience? Hopefully the judge will decide in the claimant’s favor. I feel really bad for her. She had such a heartbreaking case. I’m not only saying that because I represent her. She has a job interview this Monday and I hope she gets that job so she can continue on with her life and not worry about her dreams being clouded by despair and hopelessness that are bound to take place after long periods of unemployment. Will let you know for sure what the outcome of the case is. Keep your fingers crossed!

I bought the Watchmen graphic novel today. Can’t wait to bury my nose into it.

Currently listening to: The Doors – L.A. Woman

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December 20, 2008

A piece written by the 19-year old Jack Kerouac

Filed under: Uncategorized — galileehitchhiker @ 10:38 am
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My Mad Sunset Birth” by Jack Kerouac.

P.S. Today’s my first meeting with the client. I’m going to meet her at a local public library near her place. I’m nervous, but I’m beginning to feel really confident. I’ll get a better understanding of the case after meeting with her as opposed to going in only with a small blurb written by the UAC when you get the case. Today, the meeting is just about her telling me her story. Afterwards, I’ll look over the fact pattern, spot the issues, and start doing my research. My advisor (who is really cool!) has done about 17-18 cases already and she told me that there are some cases that just bum you out because of your client’s story. She told me that after hearing one of them, she sat by herself for a while and didn’t say anything. But the thing is that although their stories do depress us, we have now been given the power to scribble into the pages of those stories. I think as law students, we have to keep in mind that no matter how depressing the story, we have been given (or more properly put, will inherit) the immense power of potentially changing all sad stories into happy ones. This is the art of the lawyer. Will update you on how the meeting went.

Currently listening to: Albert King – Born Under a Bad Sign

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