A couple of years ago, I walked into a Superior Courtroom in North Carolina that I hadnâ€™t been in for a long while.Â Sitting on the bench was a judge that I hadnâ€™t seen in an even longer time.Â 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, â€œWell, how the hell are you Counselor Fialko?â€ Caught off guard in the full courtroom, and without thinking, I replied, â€œYour honor, Iâ€™m just trying to defend the Constitution one client at a time.â€ He laughed, and said, â€œI see how that could be a full-time job.â€
Since that day, Iâ€™ve been using that catch-phrase often, whenever I meet someone new or see someone I havenâ€™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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