The Bear has terrorized courtrooms in eight countries and three states during a career that has spanned thirty years.
During most of that time, he was a de facto specialist in death penalty defense. He is proud to say not one of his clients ever received a sentence of death. He broke legal ground with issues like change of venue, false confessions, and routine use of electronic graphics in courtrooms.
(He must add, however, that it did not take long for his gains to be rolled back by prosecutors and courts. Such is life in the defense bar.)
His legal adventures have introduced the Bear to Mt. Carmel, high above Haifa, Israel; the seedy port district of Toulon, France; the call of the muezzin in Bahrain; the tapas bars of Valencia; the fishermen's quay in Chania, Crete; the roiling cauldron of Mt. Etna's crater, in Sicily; the overrated dump known as Naples; lecture halls in Chicago; over 20 counties in southern Illinois, plus the federal court; and more evidence of bodily fluids than he cares to remember.
The names of some of his clients are known far better than his own. Coleman. Sheley. Bruny.
|No Bears Allowed|
He has seen an innocent man accused of murder vindicated at trial, and got to tell court security, "Remove the shackles from this man." And they did. He has taken his losses like a, well, Bear: hundreds of defendants guilty of everything from spree killings to city ordinance violations. Hopefully not too many innocent ones in that list. Nearly all were plea bargains. The Bear likes to think that some good deals had to do with prosecutors not wanting to mess with a Bear, but that would be a conceited thing to think.
|No Bears Allowed|
The Bear could have had a much more lucrative career. In fact, he would go so far as to say the money was lousy, by lawyer standards. All the Bear ever wanted to do was criminal law, and he got his wish, and oh, how! The pay might not have been great, but the Bear could not have had a more interesting career, or a more satisfying. Deo gratias.
But it is time for the Bear to put that all behind him.
The time has come to walk away while he still can with his snuffly nose held high.
The Bear is just a little too old, his joints just a little too stiff and sore, his rapier courtroom wit a bit slow and blunt, and his heart just a little less than completely devoted to this jealous mistress who has taken up so much of his time and energy for three decades. The law helped make the Bear real, and he feels like the result described by the Skin Horse in The Velveteen Rabbit, possibly the best book ever written, and certainly the Bear's favorite.
Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand.
What next? Writing, for certain, here, and on another project that dwarfs Judging Angels: named Adapt, a novel about a demon-fighting Surgeon General. (Did I mention that all of the Bear's fiction has a touch of whimsy?)
The purpose of whatever the Bear scribbles, however, is serious: to teach the truths of the Catholic faith, whether directly, through commentary, or fiction for those who won't read the commentary. Unlike many people, the Bear has no trouble writing. In fact, several sheets of foolscap covered with crabbed crow quill script fall from his lap every morning when he gets out of bed. No, the problem is prioritizing and editing.
The Bear must say that the blog has been excellent training in the important discipline of writing every day. Writers write -- which brings to mind the hilariously bad efforts of the writing students in Throw Mama From the Train. If the Bear ever publishes anything that bad, please hunt him down and Bruno him.
More importantly, it really does warm the Bear's cold lawyer's heart to hear a reader say -- as one recently did -- that he has gotten some personal benefit from something in this blog. That's all the Bear asks.
Think of the greatest city there has ever been, and all the commerce and transportation and construction it holds. For that matter, think of the Bear's entire legal career. That is nothing, nothing, compared to an eternal human soul. The Bear has always believed that success was not measured by page views, or number of comments, but by bringing a right realization to some reader God has been pleased to introduce to a disreputable old Bear.
The Bear still has his paws full of cases, but the end is in sight. (Despite the self-deprecating remarks, the Bear is still quite competent for the foreseeable future, and remains, after all, a Bear.)
Having identified himself as a lawyer for so long, it will be hard to change. Fortunately, he shall remain,