Travels with Rich

This will be brief. I have to check out of the hotel room only to return on Sunday for week two. In the past, when I traveled on judicial business something weird would frequently happen to me. Weird is back.

One time, I flew to Washington D.C., to beg Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner, then chair of the House Judiciary Committee, to make our “temporary” judgeship permanent.  As we landed I got really sick and the paramedics removed me from the airplane on a stretcher. To the amazement of a bunch of GI residents, turns out that Midwest Express’s breakfast included uncooked pineapple. I am one of a tiny group of people who are extremely allergic to raw pineapple. Cooked pineapple is just fine. Go figure.

On another occasion, I was driving back from our North Platte location (near the Colorado border) after the second attempt trying a fraudulent conveyance case to a jury. The jury returned a verdict, and I headed home. Near Aurora, Nebraska, my heart was attacked. After a short night in the tiny Aurora hospital and then a long ride in an ambulance to Lincoln, removal of the blockage in the heart plus two right side carotid surgeries to remove excess ick in my neck, everything turned out fine except for my case. Got reversed again on appeal. When I told the Circuit judge who reversed me twice on the North Platte case that I thought he was trying to kill me, he gave me one of those wicked Circuit judge smiles–like a wolf baring its teeth.

This time, I am sitting on the bench and my left leg feels strange. I am having difficulty getting my left shoe on in the morning. By Wednesday evening, the leg is swollen from hip to ankle. I feel and look like the elephant man. Go to the emergency room. Emergency room doc says I have a blood clot according to the ultrasound machine. With blood thinner by injection, and some oral medication, I am able to limp out of the hospital. I can continue with the trial. My doc at home says he will change the oral meds over the weekend and before I return next week. No real danger, but very uncomfortable. Why did the clot form? Since I don’t have a history of such things, no one knows. Weird, weird and weird.

After trial today, I will head home for the weekend. I will return here Sunday night. I may have to wear a slipper on my left foot until the swelling goes down. None of  my slippers go well with my robe. I never could accessorize–“badda bing, badda boom!

Legal realism anyone?


27 responses

  1. I believe appropriate attire would be slippers, pajama bottoms, and a t-shirt with a snarky saying on it. If current trends are to be taken into account, that is.

  2. Judge Kopf – Have a restful week-end and get your medicines straightened out by your doctor at home. When you return to court next week, I am suggesting that you wear slippers with Moose decorations. Also, either get a different hotel room or bring a blanket from home to cover up that Moose chair! Elaine Mittleman

  3. I extend my best wishes for your continued good health.

    Have you considered a Medic Alert bracelet for the allergy to raw pineapple?


    Craig Reed

  4. My analysis is that DVTs (Deep Vein Thomboses) are gaining in prevalence just as psych cases came in rampant clusters this past summer here in western Kentucky. We’ve had a slew of DVT patients on our unit these past 2 weeks. So you’re in fashion. I’d also guess that you’re rather sedentary what with your work sitting at the bench. You my want to invest in some anti-thombolitic socks, more commonly known as TED hose. Kinda snug but they beat the heck out of clots in your legs and possible heart attacks or strokes.

    Keep taking those blood thinners and keep your leg elevated. I find your writing fascinating and a welcome departure from my nursely world.

  5. Doc Hines says you’re sitting too much, and old veins are letting your blood pool, and clot.

    You need to get up and dance a jig or two every so often–even during the trials. It’s a twofer: you’ll increase your circulation, and you’ll wake up bored jurors.

    Eric Hines

  6. My mother had a DVT and loves her some support socks. Apparently she gets soreness in her leg where she had the clot although it was years ago, but the support socks help with that.

    Echoing everyone else’s sentiments — take care of yourself! Eric Hines’s suggestion of a jig is an excellent one, and if nothing else, would make for a great Circuit opinion if one set of attorneys thought the steps and timing of the jib showed bias against their client.

  7. Vince, I caught your act on T.V. re the sentencing of Brenda. The whole thing is impossibly sad. When I was Dean of Creighton Law School, Brenda was awarded the Ryan award for the outstanding African-American graduate of the School. I knew she hit a rough patch, but thought that things were back on track until all of this came to light. I hope she recovers from all of this to put her remarkable talents to good use. Best, Pat.

  8. Choclatetort,

    Yes, support hose are good for this sort of thing but bad for my self image as a linebacker-type.

    Thanks. All the best.


  9. Some could say that the job kills you. Judges sit with one foot on the break and the other on the accelerator. Ever attentive to the possibility of an improper look or comment, trying to appear as if they have no opinion in the guilt or non-guilt of an accused or the right or wrong of some claimant, the sedentaryiness takes its toll. Judicial efficiency, the standard by which the robed ones are judged, requires endless hours on the bench, if trials are what you do. Postures become rigid. Veins become flattened. Hearts, umm hearts, don’t pump. If you stand, people will accuse you of being imperious, but you will live longer. And have someone lead the jurors in exercise during the trial and at lunch, while you go to Yoga.

    Stay healthy. The stronger you are and the less you fret about your health, the more justice you can do.

  10. Lorin,

    Your advice is very good, and your willingness to share it very kind. I will take heed. Thank you.

    All the best.


  11. If Tony Siragusa can pitch Depends, you can man-up and wear support hose. Unless you wear knickers under your robe no one will see, anyway.;)

  12. Dear Sir –

    It occurs to me to ask what kind of chair you’re sitting on during court?

    Might you look into obtaining some supplemental cushioning, like one of those eggcrate foam cushions?


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