The “Birthday Chicken” post generated some e-mail. One in particular caught my eye.
A very distinguished Nebraska lawyer sent me the following. For reasons that will become obvious, she has been given anonymity.
I, too, was a young lawyer . . .a long time ago. The Mental Health Board was composed of the late, great attorney, Charles McCarthy, the County Attorney and a local doctor. I received a call that I was appointed to represent a guy . . . before the Mental Health Board. You will remember how antiquated the . . . County Jail was. After being escorted to the second floor and passing by the cell block, there was an attorney visitation room. The jailer told me that if I had any problems I could push the button for help. What he didn’t tell me was that the button did not work which became important shortly after my client was brought into the room.
As I sat across from this scraggly fellow with eyes that darted to and fro, he began to tell me that his problems all started when he got “cooties”. He told me that those little buggers could jump 10 feet and I began to fidget (Naively, I was also wondering what I would tell my husband that night if I arrived with “cooties”). All of a sudden, he pulled down his orange jumpsuit, stood up and exhibited his nether regions and proudly announced that he had given himself a pubic shave to get rid of the “cooties”. Trying to remain calm but also deciding that I wanted the hell out of that room, I repeatedly pushed the help button. No one came. I then pounded on the door which, of course, angered all of the inmates in the cellblock. Finally, the jailer came, took one look at me and the buck naked inmate, exclaimed “WTF?” and got me out of there.
Later that day, I sat in the attorney coffee-room on the 3rd floor of the . . . County Courthouse which was the venue for the Mental Health Board hearing. My client was seated next to me. All was going well until Mr. McCarthy asked my client if he had anything to say. He then started out by saying”Well, as I wuz tellin’ my babe lawyer here, this all started with ‘cooties’ and I took my clothes off to show her how I got rid of the ‘cooties.’” As he was talking, I was praying that either he would drop over dead or that I would. Mr. McCarthy told me later that it was hilarious to watch the red creep up my face as my client talked. They don’t call those hearings “mental health” for nothing, my judicial friend!