Today I had my first court appearance. I’ve been at my new job for three and a half weeks now. I have handled a stunning array of cases. My fellow attorneys continue to trust me to get them the answers they seek. They allow me to meet and talk to their clients. And today, one of them allowed me to attend court on one of their cases because they were scheduled to be somewhere simultaneously.
It wasn’t a huge deal; it was just an arraignment on a criminal matter. But I prepared myself as well as I could before I went in. Unfortunately, the arraignment wasn’t held in person or in the courtroom or before the official that we expected it to be before, but my colleague got me to the right place before he had to head out. I wasn’t able to talk to the client beforehand, which I had been looking forward to doing. Fortunately, or maybe not in this case, the Calhoun County Court has their process down to a science. Someone had already met with the client and basically prepared a presentence investigation report on her in order to determine what her bond should be set at. And unfortunately, likely due to her fairly extensive criminal history, my request for a personal recognizance bond was denied. Again, perhaps fortunately, no one was there for me to have to look in the face while I explained the bad news of their situation. But I felt bad when I left and she didn’t.
There were so many things that I had worried about ahead of time in addition to not really knowing what to expect when I walked into the courtroom. I worried that people would judge what I was wearing. Then I realized that that would happen no matter what. I’m the new kid in town, and people are going to size me up. I worried that it was raining and that I would get drenched on my way in and end up walking into the courtroom looking like a drowned rat. But obviously that wouldn’t happen because I walked from my office to my connected parking garage and got into my car and drove to a nearby parking lot, used my umbrella and walked into the building without incident. Then I worried about what I would do with my umbrella once I had gotten there..how could I not have considered that? But I just kind of shook it off and wrapped it up and shoved it in my bag to be dealt with later. I saw a lawyer that is good friends with my family and I felt uncomfortable that I couldn’t go talk to him right then. But I knew that he would understand, because he has been in my shoes before. I worried that I would say something wrong during the arraignment, or that I would miss some unknown next line of the magic spell that always seems to be spoken during court proceedings. But then I remembered that the magistrate is a human being and knows that I’m a human being and that I can’t possibly know everything. He knows that he’s never seen me before and that it may be my first time at an arraignment. And that’s okay. So I kept breathing. I spoke up and asked the magistrate if I could add something else to my bond request, and he did not hesitate to allow me another moment to speak.
And before I even knew it, it was over. I went back to my office, and I kept waiting for some new feeling to come over me. Some sensation of becoming. But nothing happened. And I realized that what I had done was completely normal and what everyone had expected of me. It was no larger a feat than anything else that had come before it. I had not saved anyone’s life, and I had not accidentally set fire to myself or anyone else.
I did it, and it was over, and I moved on. Onto the next adventure.