Thursday, January 31, 2008

The forensic psychologist who lost his way.

Boundaries of law, ethics and personal morality -- how far should they really be pushed? An illustrative (and true!) story:

Prior to law school, I dated a forensic psychologist for several years. When we met, he was finishing up his post-doc at Harvard. I fell in love with his story more than with him. A product of the New York City foster care system, he had beaten the odds, gotten out of the ghetto, earned his Psy.D. and did his pre- and post-doc training at Yale and Harvard. Even better, my mother could tell her friends that I was dating a Jewish doctor from New York -- who could ask for more?

More than his story, I admired how much compassion he showed. He wasn't just someone who wanted to testify for a living, earning six figures a year by living on the witness stand as a hired gun for rich white folk. He wanted to help people. He wanted to make the world a better place. This is what was most attractive to me.

Sadly, however, my forensic psychologist boyfriend was not humble. Perhaps his deep-seated self-esteem problems had manifest in a way that made him act cocky and arrogant. Even though it annoyed me, I overlooked it, because he was one hell of a clinician.

He called me yesterday. The pretext of the call was to see how I was doing. The real reason: Forensic Psychologist had been cited in a Connecticut Appellate Court decision published on January 29. He wanted to brag. He also wanted to see if I had a copy. Lucky me, I happened to have my Connecticut Law Journal on hand, so I read him the pertinent sections of the case, having to do with -- get this -- predictive neglect in the context of a care and protection case. Predict neglect? Alas, that's a discussion for another day...

In the process of tooting his proverbial horn, Forensic Psychologist described his next venture to me: He wants to start a substance abuse treatment clinic for the wealthy teenagers. The elite. The folks with money. Specifically, the parents who want to give their kids a chance.

A chance at what? A chance at getting proper treatment regardless of its cost? That would seem almost plausible. But no. Forensic Psychologist was invited to speak at a meeting in a wealthy Connecticut suburb regarding a new city ordinance having to do with the underage possession of alcohol. The parents were outraged; they knew their kids drink, and didn't want the kids getting into trouble.

Thus, an idea was born. Forensic Psychologist wants to give these wealthy teenagers a chance to lie. Let me repeat:

A chance to lie.

By not accepting insurance, there will be no paper trail. So when these kids are asked on college applications, "Have you ever received substance abuse treatment?" they will be able to check the No box without the lie ever catching up with them.

The entire concept is repugnant to my sense of moral righteousness. I told him so. To which he responded: "Everyone lies. Besides, it's not as if I'm telling them to lie."

Plausible deniabilty by someone who should know better. He is giving them the vehicle by which to lie. He is complicit in perpetrating a fraud. He is essentially saying to these kids: "When you're rich, you can get away with lying. It's okay." By his actions, Forensic Psychologist is creating a wider chasm of social stratification. When I explained this to him, he saw nothing wrong. He honestly thinks he is doing a good thing; he truly has convinced himself that he is helping people.

But at what expense to society?

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Why I do what I do.

I'm tired of explaining that the Fourth Amendment (eroded thought it may be) is not a technicality. I'm tired of soapboxing when people ask me how I could stand to defend the people I defend. Tired of having to say over and over again, "We, as a society, treat our poor people like shit and then wonder why they're the ones committing, or at the very least, accused of a lot of the crime that goes down."

It's become tedious to debate whether the presumption of innocence actually exists to most juryfolk (I believe it does not). It's gotten old pontificating upon the fact that while most people out there can recite the standard of "guilt beyond a reasonable doubt," prospective jurors still state during voir dire that if a defendant has been arrested, then he must have done something wrong.

But mostly, I'm exhausted from explaining to people that by defending the rights of the indigent, I'm defending the rights of everyone.

And when I explain to the naysayers that by defending the rights of the indigent, my cohorts and I are defending the rights of everyone, I find that this is the only story that ever seems to get my point across.

Introducing ourselves to the jury pool prior to selecting a jury:

Prosecutor: Good morning. I'm Attorney Prosecutor and I represent the people of the State.

Defense Attorney: Hi. I'm Saucy Vixen. I also represent the people of the State. I just happen to have one sitting next to me.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

My birthday could have taken place in 1987.

My birthday was last Thursday.

And even though it's 2008, it could have taken place 21 years ago.


Chris got me an original Mannequin movie poster. "She's making her move in theaters on February 13," the poster reads. That's below the line telling me that "Some guys have all the luck." Andrew McCarthy on a motorcycle wearing jeans, a waistcoat, and a tux jacket, with a mannequin riding bitch. Rock!

But that wasn't the best part.

The best part?

A framed, mint condition, 45 (that's vinyl, folks) of the single "We Built This City."

My birthday could have taken place in 1987.

That's just how awesome I am.

Similarities between taxes and Weight Watchers.

I am the Saucy Vixen and I am a Weight Watchers message board addict.

I cruise the boards and dole out advice. I provide encouragement to those who feel discouraged by their small increments of weight loss. I suggest healthy-eating ideas and low-POINTS-value tips. I make snarky observations and castigate the few who deserve it (and since I'm really a softy on the inside this doesn't happen often). I learn about high-fiber options to add to my daily diet that will keep me regular. I take down recipes for nearly-fat-free chicken cordon bleu that I will never prepare, as I do not cook.

One of my favorite pastimes on the message boards is reading posts from folks who whine about how many daily POINTS they are allotted. When I started Weight Watchers, I was allowed 21 POINT in addition to my Weekly POINTS Allowance of 35 (that's 35 POINTS to use during the week however you please; a POINT is calculated based on calories, fat and fiber content of any given food; on average, a POINT is about 50 calories, give or take).

Every now and then, someone whines and moans about how her daily target POINTs is only 18. And when that happens, I am reminded of rich Republican folk.

Rich Republican folk, in my experience, tend to be very concerned about the Government taking their money. They don't like paying for programs. They don't want poor people receiving welfare, or -- God forbid -- appointed counsel, if it means that their hard-earned money will be stolen via income tax. They get very aggravated when their income is reduced by thousands of dollars because of taxes.

My take on the tax issue: I wish I had their problem. I wish the Government were taking thousands of dollars from me. Because if they were taking that much money from me, that'd mean that I had a lot of cash. High taxes means high income. I don't see the cause for complaint.

People on Weight Watchers who are allotted 18 daily target POINTS have either lost a lot, or started out weighing a little. Eighteen POINTS is as low as it goes; it's the bottom. You can't get any fewer than 18 POINTS per day. And so, when I hear people whining about how few POINTS Weight Watchers gives 'em, my perspective is the same as when rich folk complain about paying too much in taxes: I wish I had that problem.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Belly dancer!

First it was swing dancing.

I decided against it because I am far too uncoordinated. And the partner I found was a bit of a meathead who was clearly lookin' for some action. Which I clearly wasn't going to provide since I have the best boyfriend ever. My final excuse was that the lessons I found didn't fit in with my work-out schedule.

Then it was roller derby.

As it turns out, the league in the state in which I live in over an hour away, which was going to make weeknight practices difficult. Worse, however, was the fact that the woman who coordinates said derby is Best Friend Mike's most recent ex-girlfriend. So I looked at the league in the neighboring state. However, that was too far away to ever make the weeknight practices. Sadly, roller derby leagues are not sweeping New England. No crazy fun girls in fishnets and roller skates for the Saucy Vixen. A travesty!

So now it's belly dancing.

Great exercise. And Lord knows I have a belly. Chris tells me that belly dancing is perfect for me. He says I'm sexy and Semitic and slinky and all the things that work well for belly dancers. What with the Weight Watchers lifestyle change, I'm thirteen pounds lighter than I was two months ago, so I'm not even too self conscious to try it out.

The problem? Even though I have no issue with arguing in court or negotiating with prosecutors or asking cross questions, I hate talking to service people. I'm strangely afraid of calling for pizza. I hate asking for help at the library. So the thought of calling places up and asking about classes and times is terrifying to me. As soon as I get over this, I'll be making phone calls and signing up for a class.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

He's been holding out on me!

My boyfriend's birthday is on January 1. Which means in my recovering-from-too-much-tequila hungover state, I was subjected to a family dinner, complete with his parents, grandparents, and eighteen-year-old brother.

In discussing what his brother did for the New Year, it was divulged that he stayed up until three a.m. playing Guitar Hero. At that point, I expressed by burning desire to own Dance Dance Revolution (DDR), but my problem with the fact that I do not out a Playstation game console.

"He has a PS2," Chris's brother informed me.

I was taken aback.



That bastard! Knowing of my love for dancing on electronically connected pads, Chris had neglected to inform me that he owned a PS2. No. Rather, he merely turned to me and explained, "I use it to watch DVDs."


Surely DVD-watching as his parents' house cannot be as important as my love of the dance. And so I said to him: "Chris! Surely DVD-watching here cannot be as important as my love of the dance!"

He agreed. And agreed to bring it over, if not for good, then at least temporarily so that I can DDR myself into oblivion.

Now all I need to do is get the game. So I can have dance battles in my bordello-styled living room.