Well, today was a commuting nightmare in VA – hot, sticky, a suspect busline, a strange taxi driver who suddenly seemed to get his simple bearings as I pulled out a pen and started writing down his operator number. In the end, I got to where I was going – one of the Forensic labs, where I thought I would meet my fellow Public Defender interns for a tour of the facility. Alas – for some reason everyone but myself blanked out on it and I ended up getting a tour by myself, which was fun, although it made getting back less easier than I’d planned.
The lab was quite cool – I got a fairly detailed overview of just what’s done there and by whom. I got to see actual ballistic tests being performed and was lectured on the equipment. The tour guide was an experienced forensic scientist who by his own account kind of “lucked” into the job, back in the 80s, before it was a sexy profession; he told a lot of good jokes. It got me thinking about the whole Byzantine certification/hiring process for many professions. Seems like for almost anything you’ve got to tender your 4 years and X number of thousands before you’re allowed to begin learning a job (which you’d have to be trained for.)
Given the frustrating commute there and back, I can only say that I’m amazed there aren’t more summer homicides in the South. (One of my pet peeves is “southern graciousness” which largely seems to be employed to act completely obnoxiously in front of third parties, and as a justifier to delaying, impeding, or annoying someone who does not know, and has no desire to discuss, whatever personal anecdote you’d like to go off on.)
As much as I enjoyed the tour, I was disappointed to hear that I completely missed out on a courtroom meltdown by one of the local prosecutors. In the course of speaking for a collogue, the prosecutor told a judge (who was a former defense attorney) that he believed all lawyers were cheats and liars, except for prosecutors, who he regarded as having a higher moral standard than the rest of the bar and thus should be given more leeway. This was said in open court. Amazing. I think the small legal community is still in a bit of a shock over this one. When I asked some of the lawyers what they thought of the incident, they seemed mostly bemused. “Bizarre,” was the most common response, “Painful to watch,” was a close second. It might be tempting to pin this on some kind of burnout, but I think it was just what he honestly believed.
Tomorrow I may have to testifiy to impeach a witness - exciting.