Monday, March 18, 2013

Gideon, etc.

In Chasing Gideon, The Elusive Quest For Poor People's Justice published today, on Gideon's birthday, of course, Karen Houppert outs me in a number of ways--that at the time she spoke with me, I had black hair and nails (sorry, Mom!), I was smoking cigarettes (sorry again!), and that I was unemployed. Karen had contacted me after reading my blog, told me that she was writing a book about indigent defense, and asked if I had time to talk to her. "Sure," I said, "I've got plenty of time--I just got fired."

Karen traveled from Baltimore to see me in early November 2011, and spent several days talking to me. I had been fired about a month earlier, and was in, I'm pretty sure now, a state of shock. As the months of my unemployment passed, her interview receded into a surreal haze--"A reporter from Baltimore came to talk to me? Did that really happen?"

In December 2012, I sent Karen an email, "I got my job back!" 

"Congratulations!" she replied. "Hope you don't lose it again when my book comes out!" Ah, writers--so funny. (Don't worry PD friends, the Teamsters have my back.)

Buy Karen's book--I don't have the time or objectivity to write a review right now (I finished reading it last night), except to say that Karen has the gift of seeing the humanity in every story, and weaves these individual stories into an insightful study of the complex and human problem of indigent defense.

I do, of course, have a lot more to say about all of this, but not right now. Right now I am sitting in Karen's dining room, getting ready for her book party, and a story that she asked me to tell at The Stoop Storytelling Series, in conjunction with the book's release (you can find a link to the podcast on The Stoop's website). My piece is only 7 minutes, and the fact that I am a trial lawyer notwithstanding, I'd rather tell a story in writing than out loud. So now I'm off to practice!


Miranda said...

I had quit checking the blog for a while after you finished the book series, so i was surprised when I checked in today to find you'd posted - and almost a month ago! Thanks for posting about the book.

ambimb said...

After reading the first two chapters I'm blown away and admire you more than ever. Your standoff with the judge in the Replogle case was amazing! Sure, if you would have gone forward Nd lost he *might* have won on appeal, but by that time how many years in prison would he have done? That kind of representation is a true inspiration!

I only wish you were able to keep up the Revolution — it's needed now more than ever — but I understand why you've been so quiet here, too. Many of my PD friends don't even want to think about the big picture of our work bc they are worn out by the day-to-day of what we do, even though we work in one of the best jurisdictions in the country for PD quality of life.

Anyway, best to you, keep up the good work, and update us when you can!

carol d said...

Thanks, Miranda--and sorry about the intermittent reinforcement. Sometimes I can't even believe all of the crazy stuff that has happened. I want to write again, but sometimes it takes me a while--ahem, a couple of years--to figure out what I want to say. In the meantime, Karen's book is great--she's perceptive, and a great writer and person. Again, thanks for hanging in there--I've got a crazy story to tell--some of it is our story and some of it is mine, but it'll start insisting on coming out soon.

carol d said...

Ambimb!!! So great to hear from you! Thank you for your comments about Sean's case--it is something I'm proud of, even if I hate how the being charged with the crime affected his life. But Karen's book is a nice validation, I guess, in the sea of shit that I had to wade through. I have to admit that there were some dark days when I thought things would never get better--I'd lost so many things, I thought. My job, my career, my purpose, etc. But, with the help of my parents and the teamsters, I kept fighting. And I got my job back. And I got back pay. And Karen's book came out. Finally, finally, the dark days are over.

Greg Prosmushkin said...
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