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How To Be a First Time Lawyer
by Shane Stay

My advice to any first time lawyer is myriad in content, but scant in meaning. First of all: what are you wearing? I feel that dress shoes are highly over rated in law. Why not sneakers? Black or white color doesn’t really matter, though gray would be my first pick, however, shoe companies do not make too many gray sneakers anymore. Nike made a great pair, back in 2005. I still have those and wear them only on special occasions, though they are located in Chicago and the shipping fee would not be worth it. So I compromised and wore black sneakers, with gray trim. Black pants would be my first suggestion. Why? Green or red would look just plain silly, now wouldn’t it? The shirt is very important, though I can’t recall what shirt I wore, or if I even had a shirt on, as I was consumed with my defense and opening statements. To be sure, I was wearing a shirt or else the presiding judge surely would have said something to the effect of, “Hey, you’re not wearing a shirt.” Regardless of my shirt choice on this day, it couldn’t have been exorbitantly horrid, as anyone who studies the styling’s of Tavis Smiley or Freddy Mercury as much as I do can’t go wrong.

My first case was simple. The Thai-American fusion restaurant I own with my ex, Newy, was visited by the Labor Board and the agent, a woman with the mind of a mafia boss and the soul of a reptile, accused us of neglecting to pay our worker, Johnny-Joe-Jobba-Johnson, less than twice a month and under the minimum wage. We acquired the official paper work  from our accountant showing the agent to be incorrect in her accusations.

I attribute all of my astounding success less from studying law books and more from singing loudly the whole way to the court room. With songs from Tina Turner, Debarge and Young MC how can you go wrong? You can’t. It’s money and the louder you sing along, the better. Though, about a block from the courthouse Newy opened the car door to get out and walk. I assumed after years of hearing my angelic voice she was used to it; to the contrary, she was holding in her disdain, and speechless only because she was occupied with other thoughts, until the bitter end as we turned on to D Street and she couldn’t take anymore.

“Chut up! I gonna walk!” Though I describe my voice as heavenly, I have heard other people complain about my singing and liken it to a rhinoceros trampling a litter of baby goats. In fact, I can’t recall anybody ever saying these words: “Sing that song again.” But true talent like Al Green, Barry White, me – we live in a world of our own. We don’t need people to tell us how good we are. We sing for the pleasure of song. If there were no trees to absorb our harmony, we’d sing our song. If there were no frogs to take in our melody, we’d sing our song. If there were no people to hear our tune, we’d sing our song! We are vocal artists – me, Al Green and Barry White – and our song is intrinsically valuable to us; it does not matter if there is an audience attached to the magnetic waves we propagate into the air, they are superfluous; much like Van Gough and his ear. Another great album to sing along to would be The Smith’s, “Louder Than Bombs,” but don’t let the presiding judge hear your karaoke version to the song, “Shoplifter’s Of The World Unite,” in the parking lot before your case. It raises questions of credibility.

Anyway, Newy and I gained our composure and went over our “to-do” list of things to say and not to say in the hearing. Newy was calmer than usual and ready for action, as the only thing that had annoyed her so far was my singing.

When describing the female plaintiff, avoid using words like “bitch, skank,” or “hoe.” I checked with my lawyer friends and they said that doesn’t go over too well. I scratched them off the list as we entered the hearing room. There she stood, matching all of my assumed expletives. Pure evil she was; pure unapologetic evil, standing in a cheap discounted dress from JC Penney’s fall 2002 edition. And I could smell her perfume, “Este Liar Edition!” To add, her tactic was to speak as quiet as a mouse. And she had another tactic up her sleeve: she was friends with the presiding judge, both employees from the same office of Labor! When the odds are stacked against you like this it is highly recommended to hum the words to Matthew Wilder’s, “Ain’t Nothin’ Gonna Break My Stride,” in your head. I would have done this but I forgot the words.

The female judge made little eye contact with us, a tactic often used by judges in Guatemala or Chile, which is often proceeded by visits  from an armed militia. The prosecutor was hell-bent on using as much circumstantial evidence against us; evidence that had nothing to do with our case. The judge was hell-bent on glowing over every word the prosecutor spoke.

Do not forget your pen. It is awkward and no good for your cause to ask the judge for an extra pen to use. Though, she was nice enough to lend us one. And another thing, don’t bring scratch pieces of paper to write notes on. This doesn’t look too good. If you do, you’re a fake mustache away from writing on a napkin. Also, sit with correct posture. Don’t lean back in your chair as though you’re taking in a good sunset. Newy reminded me of this, with nudges to the arm, on numerous occasions through out the hearing.

Their friendship was deep and evident. As the plaintiff spoke the judge nodded in agreement, adding little in conversation. When I spoke the judge frantically jotted notes as if trading at the New York Stock Exchange. She would speak up often, asking questions that had little to do with our case. “How long have you been open? What kind of food do
you serve? Who’s got the best chance to buy Lebron James?”At one point, the plaintiff insidiously asked if Newy was related to our accountants. I wanted to ask her in return if she and the judge were lesbian lovers in the 700 Hundred Club. The plaintiff went on to assert that everything our worker Johnny-Joe-Jobba-Johnson told her seemed true and
she believed it. It was his verbal account that galvanized her to write us a ticket for not paying him twice a month and below the minimum wage. The judge nodded in accord. Indeed, I pointed out that on the very sheet of paper the plaintiff had Johnny-Joe-Jobba-Johnson fill out, he wrote that he was paid nine dollars an hour! We all had a copy of this statement in front of us! If she believed him so much, then how can we be accused of paying him below minimum wage?! I further stated the official paper from our accountant indicates that we pay Johnny-Joe-Jobba-Johnson eight dollars an hour, as opposed to the nine dollar mark he guessed at. To this, the plaintiff would say, “This is only a piece of paper! I don’t believe this! I spoke to Johnny-Joe-Jobba-Johnson. I don’t know what this paper is!” In a desperate act of rebuttal my response measured the value of the Declaration of Independence, followed with a quote from Gandhi. I don’t know where it came from and it made sense to no one, including me.

The evil plaintiff had no response. She was taking notes, no doubt reminding herself to get a hair cut from her Neo-Nazi hair stylist. I made my final statement, rivaling the Gettysburg Address. The judge asked me, “Is there anything else you want us to know?”

“Yes. I’d like Taylor Lautner to give me a back massage. But I’m not gay.”

Despite this monkey court room, I walked away victorious, knowing that in fifteen days time, when the decision has been made, I was the righteous one on display that day, with good shoes, good pants, some kind of unknown shirt, songs humming in my head and a borrowed pen from the judge.