I realize it's been a long time since I've updated this blog. In 2009, when I began blogging here, it wasn't to attract readers. At the time, I was new to the practice of criminal defense law here in Chicago and needed a venue to air out frustrations and thoughts. Thus, Chicago Criminal Defense was born.
In the beginning, I blogged regularly and my blogs tended to be lengthy. When necessary, I tried to explain complex legal concepts in a way that almost anyone could digest and understand. This was, in part, practice for speaking to jurors in courtrooms. I was trying to learn how to discuss the law without resorting to legalese. I was also developing myself as a writer, though it wasn't intentional nor was I aware that it was happening.
It's fair to say that in 2009 I was hungry and had a lot of passion for the work. However, in the spring of 2010 when my client was convicted of murder something in me changed. Then a couple months later, another client was convicted of attempted murder. By the end of 2010, I had begun to grow cynical about the work. In short, I was forced to admit the criminal justice system is horribly broken. I also was forced to admit that I had failed two clients in a time of desperate need. As a result, fueling cynicism consumed idealism and I hardened. This was a blog I wrote as I brooded over 2010.
In the summer of 2011, the stunning verdict in the Kenneth Green trial restored my faith in juries and myself as a trial attorney. It wasn't that I felt I was deficient in 2010, but I did lose two big trials, which created sporadic palpable amounts of self-doubt in my abilities. Then in March 2012, I secured a not guilty verdict for a client charged of murder in a cold case from 1984.
However, that same month, another client was convicted of attempted murder in one of the worst jury trials imaginable. The judge helped the prosecution through a lack of knowledge of the rules of evidence. Additionally, the judge refused to inquire about prosecutorial misconduct--communication with a juror--that my co-counsel witnessed during the trial. However, despite terrible judicial rulings, my closing argument made the case close.
On a Friday evening at 7:00 p.m., and after several hours of deliberation, the jury sent a note to the judge indicating they were deadlocked, were not going to be able to reach a verdict and requested to come back the next day. Over my objection, the judge ordered them to continue to deliberate. An hour later, the jury came back with a guilty verdict. I did not blog about this case because I was simply too pissed off.
In a way, that case was the last straw for me doing this job in Chicago. In the summer of 2012, I decided I needed a change of scenery and no longer wished to practice law. I can't fully explain it, but I began to feel unhealthy, though physical fitness is a cornerstone in my life. It was my mental health about which I worried. I was on medication for anxiety, depression and had to take pills to sleep. Chicago, and this job, began to make me feel sick inside.
But there was more to it.
Initially in 2009 and 2010, my business was a success and it was profitable. However, in 2011 and 2012, I saw final figures in the red and a resultant escalation in debt as I scrambled to keep things afloat. At the time, I couldn't understand why business went from great to poor. The eventual answer was marketing. My initial marketing plan worked until it didn't and I failed to understand why. If I made any errors in running the business, it was this.
That my fiscal problems coincided with my burn out was rather fortuitous. I could have borrowed money and revamped my marketing but I chose not to. It was time to move on.
I'm okay with how things have ended up. I had opportunities and accomplished things that changed the lives of people who I doubt will ever forget me (not that I care). I had a career case with Kenneth Green and knew that there would never be another case anywhere close to it. I represented about 300 people in Cook County felony courts. I won some trials. I lost some trials. I won some 4th Amendment motions. And I lost some. But I fought the good fight and am getting out on my terms--though aged considerably all around.
Moving forward, in the fall of 2012, I began freelance writing articles and ghost blogging on a variety of topics. The work doesn't pay well, but it does pay. In February and March of 2013, I wrote a novel titled, .40 Cal Sayulita and in May I wrote a second novel, Concealed Carry. I have a literary agent whose job it is to sell my books to a publisher; however, the book business moves at a turtle's pace.
I plan to leave Chicago in September for a far southern destination where I can enjoy wide open space, quietness, a slower pace and a greater sense of personal freedom. I believe I have what it takes to make a living as a novelist and found that I love writing fiction. Thus, herein lies my current focus.
If this doesn't pan out, however, I'll find something else to do. I really like
ranch work. I'd maybe like to teach some day. Maybe
I'll take up fishing. Maybe practice law in a different state. I really can't predict anything beyond this next year.
But for my experiences here in Chicago, I wouldn't have been able to write either novel nor the ones that will surely follow. After all, the first rule of writing is to write about that which you know.
I have always tried to blog in an honest, transparent way and I hope this last posting meets that standard. If you follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn you'll surely know when my writings are published. And I hope at least a couple of you will consider reading them.
Thanks for reading,
Chicago Police Board Information Center - CJP's new website dedicated to increasing the transparency of the Chicago Police Board.
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