Three Steps to Speaking Out

Years ago, I worked for a lawyer who had a tremendous influence over my career. He was kind, affable, and gregarious. These qualities were foundations of his personality. My boss was also smart, tenacious, and savvy, although these qualities were buried deep within a pleasant veneer that may have come off as weakness to some […]

Sitting out the action

As a criminal defense lawyer, I spend a lot of time with prosecutors. Without a doubt, they see the world differently than I do. They say “guilty,” I say “not guilty.” They focus on the illegality, selfishness, and, sometimes, brutality of a person’s conduct while I highlight the potential for redemption. We are just wired […]

Should we try it under the trees?

We just passed the 95th anniversary of one of the most famous trials in history. In March 1925, the Tennessee state legislature passed the Butler Act prohibiting teaching evolution in Tennessee schools. A science teacher named John Scopes challenged the law and was charged with violating the Act. The trial, known as the Scopes Monkey […]

How did we make it through July?

Twenty years ago, I practiced law with a wonderful lawyer named Kirk Osborn. Kirk was athletic, handsome, and charismatic. He exuded confidence and kindness. I envied the way people were instantly drawn to him, especially strangers. We tried a number of complex, contentious, and emotionally grueling cases together. No doubt, I am a better lawyer […]

Is it safe to go there?

When I was a sophomore in high school, my Eastern North Carolina school hired a recent college graduate to teach social studies and coach football (mostly to coach football). He was only a few years older than the students. To say he was sure of himself would be a gross understatement. Still, we liked him […]

Just when you have time for jury service

Several years ago, the Orange County Clerk summoned me for jury service. Nothing relieves a lawyer from the obligation. Judges tell prospective jurors that jury service is the only compulsory obligation of citizenship. I appeared along with about one hundred other people. Apparently, the state scheduled a serious case and expected a lengthy trial. The […]

You will reap what you sow

A former client’s mother assured me of that in February as we started her son’s murder trial. Her actual statement was “you are wrong! But you know that…people reap what they sow.” I can disclose that because I don’t have an attorney/client relationship with my client’s mother. Technically, I don’t owe her any duty. Practically […]

Hope, Faith or Really Deep Pockets?

I walked down Franklin Street yesterday. The empty streets and restaurants are, sadly, starting to feel normal. (Good only if you don’t want to wear a mask.) I noticed something unusual. A large, recently vacated restaurant space had a big sign announcing the relocation of a different restaurant to the space after renovations. That was […]

Who needs the courts anyway?

When I was just out of law school, a family member asked me to find a lawyer for a potential land dispute. I met with a top-notch civil litigator in Eastern North Carolina. He expressed confidence in my family member’s legal position and agreed to represent him. As we were concluding our meeting, I asked […]