Just Move Padilla
Blawg Review Awards 2005

Thanks To CTLA Readers

Not long ago, a newspaper requested permission to reprint one of the blogs appearing on this page. The post was one appearing in the series we have labelled "The Sociopathy Project." It was playfully entitled the "Hee-Bee Gee-Bee Test," and it was about how to spot clients who need medication more than they need litigation.

Of course, I was flattered to have the essay reprinted. But the comments that have flowed on the Connecticut Trial Lawyers Association listserve during the past week have not been quite so flattering.

I am not a member of the listserve. Generally, I dislike the devices. They are very distracting, yielding plenty of email smoke, but little more. A few friends have been shooting over the comments on the blog. Let me preface what follows by thanking all for reading.

The Connecticut Trial Lawyers Association is a plaintiff-oriented club. I've really never understood why lawyers form clubs for those representing only one side of an aisle. I represent civil plaintiffs and civil defendants -- although over the years I have represented far more plaintiffs. It seems sort of silly to say, as does a famed Trial Lawyers College in Wyoming, that prosecutors and insurance defense lawyers need not apply. We are all officers of the court, serving clients with the doctrine at hand. Neither side of the aisle has a monopoly on virtue, or truth.

Did I unfairly characterize all plaintiffs? No, I did not even write about all plaintiffs. I wrote about the wolves-in-sheep's-clothing sociopaths whose smiles and facile demeanors are masks for rage and the mere destructive desire for revenge. Nothing I wrote, and nothing I believe, suggests that the doors of the courts should be closed to those injured by the acts and omissions of another. All I am saying is that a significant percentage of plaintiffs bring deep-seated psychological injury to their cases that is not caused by a defendant's misconduct, and these clients transfer all their anger and disappointment onto the first available target, whether it be defendant or lawyer. I suspect any lawyer practicing more than a couple of years can draw this distinction with ease.

Was I suggesting that defendants are somehow devoid of the same sociopathy? Not at all. I suspect many defendants are disturbed as well. But there is a crucial difference -- the defendant did not choose to be in court. Sue my client, and I must defend; but I am not required to bring suit in response to every phantasm shaking my plaintiff's soul.

Finally, why did I not speak out against outrageously stupid and wasteful defense conduct? The filing, let's say, of baseless motions for change of venue, or the stupid stonewalling of the white shoe firm on discovery? Can't sociopaths also wear the lawyer's suit?

There is no doubt that a lot of lawyers are practicing law without moral compass. And I do not doubt that many of them are on the defense side of the aisle in civil litigation. I stand rightly rebuked for not having paid enough attention to them in "The Sociopathy Project," which is, I remind you, just gathering steam.

So thanks to all the good folks at the Connecticut Trial Lawyers Association for reading. I haven't lost the will and zeal to fight, far from it. But I do get to choose not to become more than the blunt instrument of those client's whose cases lack merit, and whose psyches bring nothing but hatred and rage to a courtroom.