I am in the middle of a TPR (termination of parental rights) trial – and it shows no signs of ending any time soon! I represent five small people, but cannot disclose much more about the case for fear someone out there will recognize the history. My clients generally have so little in their lives, privacy is one thing they deserve and I am mandated to preserve! Suffice it to say it has been an emotionally and physically draining day – especially after three of them spoke with the Judge today.
Don’t get me wrong, on some level I am so used to abuse and neglect and hearing about it so much that it sometimes ceases to have any meaning. That sounds so cold, I know – but days like this sometimes shake me out of my defenses. When you hear these things up close and personal, it makes the reality so clear. We represent small, defenseless human beings – vulnerable human beings. And we better get it right.
However…. if I were to think about the reality of this every day, I doubt I’d be able to function effectively for the client. If I think about trial as a chess game, (a game I cannot play, LOL!) where the rules of evidence and a winning argument and a good cross exam come into play, I don’t freeze up and then I’m doing a good job for my clients. But if I do that too much, I run the risk of losing my humanity, don’t I?
About ten years ago, I worked at a wonderful place called Heartly House. At Heartly House, they advocate for, provide shelter for, and provide therapy and other services for, victims/survivors of domestic violence, sexual abuse and other forms of intra-relationship violence. I loved working there. The victim advocates and I had a great relationship and worked together so well. And where else can a lawyer win a protective order for a client, go back to the office and get a big hug?:) How cool is that? I swear, that place ruined me for “regular” law firms, LOL! It’s as if taking the big pay cut in the beginning filled me with so many far more valuable blessings in my career, that it paid for itself a million fold over the years.
Anyway, as one can imagine, an issue with which we often dealt was secondary trauma – pain and suffering caused by witnessing – second-hand – the trauma of others. Hood College actually had a conference on that very topic. Since then, I have often asked friends and family what they do to take care of themselves. I have often wondered that of John and also my daughter Dori, who works 911/police dispatch. Perhaps I should ask them that question. …
Getting back to trial, we have three more days of testimony and it looks like the trial will not be over, so then on to a scheduling nightmare. Such is life. The main thing is to get this right. I’ve just spent the past four hours or so prepping the direct exam of a mental health expert and a fact witness and interviewed two witnesses. So although the DSS attorney will be doing most of the questioning, I’m no potted plant.
Knitting? I pack a little project with me – but not happening yet. Priorities, people!
And good night Angels.