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It was bound to happen and now it did (JAWM)


Quill
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If you have advice that can help my perspective, feel free to share, but please just agree with me that this will be challenging. 

The attorney I work for has been retained for a (criminal defense) case that is repugnant to me. He knows how I feel about this person’s alleged crimes and he has told me he will not require me to read/listen to/view the discovery. 

I thought the person was not going to retain us because of the expense but a relative got involved and it’s a go. 

Philosophically: I do believe every person is entitled to a defense and is innocent until proven guilty. I also believe that criminal defense is actually the area of law my attorney is best suited to temperamentally, even though I was hired for mostly personal injury and worker’s comp. But...ugggh. I have a bit of an OCD issue where something I see/hear that is disturbing to me will run through my brain nine thousand times. Already, I heard something the arresting officer said on the phone and I thought about that all night long. 

I had recently allowed my Calm app (meditation and sleep stories) subscription end, but yesterday I renewed it because I need the sleep stories when my brain does not want to turn off. My favorite sleep stories are train rides; they put me straight to sleep. 

Any other perspective? 

Oh and I will say, attorney or no, the perp is going to go away for a long time and will receive therapeutic assistance that may help, though it probably won’t. (And here I am clearly not accepting Innocent Before Proven Guilty...) I’m just saying this because the conundrum is not fear that the perp will get off scott-free...there is zero likelihood of this happening and my boss is telling me this is a way to ensure the perp gets therapy that may help. If the perp used a public defender, it is less likely that any mental health help would be available. 

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So at the very least by your firm helping him he’ll contribute to knowledge of more effective therapy that may prevent or treat someone with similar inclinations in the future?

It’s tough. Maybe consider a short round of cognitive behavioral therapy so you can reframe your thoughts about it, and speak more openly about disturbing details than you can otherwise. 

Oh, there’s a book on CBT that might help the same way for a bit less time & money than therapy.  It’s Feeling Great by David D. Burns, MD.

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I completely understand.

Does it help to think about how none of us can stay completely separate from things that are repugnant to us? Our taxes buy bombs, our purchases support sweatshops, our car emits greenhouse gases. We do the best we can in the circumstances we are in, and that is just what you will do.

Praying that God will use you for GOOD in this situation.

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Oh wow, that would be so hard.  I am glad your boss is understanding and talking to you about it.  I would guess this isn't his first rodeo?  Are there other people at work that you could talk to also? I think I would try to remember that you didn't have anything to do with the crime committed.  And that you are part of the legal system that is in our country and that is an important part finding out who is guilty or not guilty.  Without taking part of the legal system the victims will not get the closure they need to move on.  

Sending lots of gentle hugs your way.

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1 hour ago, MercyA said:

I completely understand.

Does it help to think about how none of us can stay completely separate from things that are repugnant to us? Our taxes buy bombs, our purchases support sweatshops, our car emits greenhouse gases. We do the best we can in the circumstances we are in, and that is just what you will do.

Praying that God will use you for GOOD in this situation.

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Thank you. Yes, that does help. One thing that has been important to me in my life has been Fair Trade practices, but I also had to realize that it is not possible to live in a modern society and take no part in unfair trade practices. I still do what I can often, but I cannot eliminate it completely. 

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I think whenever you start repeating the thoughts in your mind, you could stop and say to yourself, like a mantra, "My office is making sure he gets the most appropriate sentencing for his crime."  

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The fact this guy retained a really good lawyer might also reduce his ability to appeal his conviction or sentence based on "ineffective assistance of counsel," so that could be a good thing, in addition to the possibility of getting him therapy. But I'm sorry you have to deal with this, and I'm glad the attorney is sympathetic to your feelings.

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1 hour ago, mommyoffive said:

Oh wow, that would be so hard.  I am glad your boss is understanding and talking to you about it.  I would guess this isn't his first rodeo?  Are there other people at work that you could talk to also? I think I would try to remember that you didn't have anything to do with the crime committed.  And that you are part of the legal system that is in our country and that is an important part finding out who is guilty or not guilty.  Without taking part of the legal system the victims will not get the closure they need to move on.  

Sending lots of gentle hugs your way.

Thank you, yes, not his first rodeo. Cases like this just don’t come along very often, so most of the criminal stuff is pretty minor. 
I like this last paragraph. 

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59 minutes ago, Quill said:

Thank you, yes, not his first rodeo. Cases like this just don’t come along very often, so most of the criminal stuff is pretty minor. 
I like this last paragraph. 

Maybe talking to a therapist would help?  Is that a thing with lawyers?  Do they have support groups set up for talking about the stress they carry from learning about awful crimes?  I would think it would be so helpful for lawyers and everyone in law enforcement that deals with seeing horrible crimes to be getting mental support for that.  

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The above advice about perspective is my operating philosophy. I have had several very disturbing cases and your attorney is doing you a great kindness by excusing you from discovery. Seriously. I tried to shield my staff too.

As far as coping goes:

1. Thought stop. Work stuff stays at work.

2. Violence and substance abuse and all other degradations happen in life and you’ve moved from theoretical to actual—that distance you have had earlier has closed a bit—and it is a chance to reflect on the privilege you have had in life. While I occasionally had a client who had come from privilege, many of my most disturbing ones came from a segment of the population who had come from unstable upbringing, inadequate education, inadequate employment, and so on. Victim/perp—they were in that same system together no matter which side of the table my client came from. (In clinics I had to do defense.) I developed a lot of empathy and a lot of black and white thinking went away. I could be absolutely reviled by their behavior and still extend empathy that they had had such an awful childhood. Most people are nuanced. Things shaped them to where they were.

3. The thing that bothered me the most were offenses against children. I was always on the kid’s side of the table but I had to be deep in the details. If you are on the other side, I am sorry. Know that all of the professionals in the process are bothered and find support in that. Attorneys who have all worked together for long periods of time develop a cadre—often from shared experiences—and digging down into that professionalism and the oath that we take helps.

4. journaling feelings, not details, and therapy are also often helpful. Attorneys have high substance abuse rates not only from the workload but also from the trauma. Avoid substance overuse.

Hugs.

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That is a hard sit to deal with.  Remember though that for the justice system to work properly, everyone must receive a good defense.  If that doesn’t happen, the system fails.  It sounds like even with the best defense this person will suffer the consequences of his actions, as well as getting needed help.  I wouldn’t feel bad being a part this case (given the few details you have been able to share).

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1 hour ago, mommyoffive said:

Maybe talking to a therapist would help?  Is that a thing with lawyers?  Do they have support groups set up for talking about the stress they carry from learning about awful crimes?  I would think it would be so helpful for lawyers and everyone in law enforcement that deals with seeing horrible crimes to be getting mental support for that.  

Yes, we made friends with one of our adopted kid’s GAL, and after telling me the (public, in the newspaper) details of something that had kept her from visiting for a few weeks I asked her how she dealt with being exposed to the worst of the worst like that. She seemed so normal compared to most family lawyers & social workers  (who end up detached or resigned or who expect the worst of people).  She said she’d been going to talk therapy twice a week for years. It’s the only place she’s allowed to discuss everything that bothers her. 

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