A couple of years ago, I walked into a Superior Courtroom in North Carolina that I hadn’t been in for a long while. Sitting on the bench was a judge that I hadn’t seen in an even longer time. This judge and I had been on opposite sides and fought cases against one another when he was just a prosecutor in the 1990s.
Upon spying me, the judge shouted, “Well, how the hell are you Counselor Fialko?” Caught off guard in the full courtroom, and without thinking, I replied, “Your honor, I’m just trying to defend the Constitution one client at a time.” He laughed, and said, “I see how that could be a full-time job.”
Since that day, I’ve been using that catch-phrase often, whenever I meet someone new or see someone I haven’t seen in a while. While I say it mostly to be funny and break the ice, it also serves as a barometer: the people who laugh and appreciate the comment tend to understand the crucial role of a criminal defense lawyer in our society. On the other hand, if my quip is greeted with frowning silence, I become immediately wary.
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