This morning a call came in at our house from a client of Robert’s, who then left a message (if anyone reads this who doesn’t know, Robert is an attorney who does primarily court-appointed criminal defense, i.e. he gets pretty much the bottom of the barrel, humanity-wise).
This, in and of itself, was a problem. Our phone number is unlisted and Robert is not loco enough to give it out. Any potential mystery was laid to rest when the second sentence out of the guy’s mouth was, “I talked to your dad….” Yes, my oh-so-helpful father-in-law had given this dude, whom he doesn’t know from a hole in the ground, our phone number when the guy had called him out of the phone book. (I would like to say this is the first time this has happened. It isn’t.) Rather than get into a whole rant about how someone who’s been an attorney for umpteen decades should know better than to give felons people’s home phone numbers, I will just say: Bad Frank. Not cool. I have since spoken to him about it.
Anyway, on the message Client says he thinks he is supposed to be in court at 1:00 today but he can’t make it and so wants to know if it’s possible to delay the hearing. He also mentions that he has been told by FIL that Robert is in the panhandle. (Remember this later.) This message was left around 8:45, when I was out taking the kids to school. I do as much as I possibly can from this distance, which consists of calling both Robert’s cell phone and his office and, instead of hanging up on the voice mail, leaving an actual message detailing the call.
Around 9:55 I am sitting here and the phone rings. It’s a local number with a name I don’t recognize so I don’t pick up, but I suspect it’s Client again. Having no wisdom or information to impart to him, I do not answer the phone. He leaves no message. Then, at 11:02, he calls back. I don’t pick up again. This time he leaves a message which I go down and listen to. Now Client is mad. The message is something along the lines of, “Robert, you let me down. YOU’RE FIRED!!!” and then the slamming down of the phone.
Now, keep in mind that Einstein here has been informed that Robert is not in here, but in the panhandle, which, for those playing along at home, is six hours away. Client also knew he was calling Robert’s residence here in town. Not in the panhandle. Where Robert actually is. Client, if he had the sense God gave a goat, should also realize that Robert has shit to do all day, like be in court defending the dregs of society (as mandated by the United States Constitution™), as opposed to sitting by his phone checking his home answering machine remotely every half hour to make sure he hasn’t missed anything. (Just as FIL should’ve realized there was no earthly reason to give this ass clown our home phone number being that ROBERT ISN’T HERE, HE IS IN THE PANHANDLE AND I AM NOT AN ATTORNEY.) All this is not to mention that Client was calling to try to delay the hearing, so why get his boxers in a wad over Robert not being here? It’s not as though Robert has stood him up at the courthouse. Also, to truly avoid looking like a total douchebag, one should allow the full amount of allowable time for a task to be completed to pass before screaming at someone on their answering machine. Technically, Robert still had two hours from the time of the last call to get the message and call the court on Bozo the Redneck’s behalf before the alleged 1:00 hearing.
And when I say “alleged” it is because, hey! Guess what? The hearing wasn’t even today! Following that last call I decided to call the Texas County Court Clerk and ask her to slip Robert a note about the situation – not because I give a crap if Client misses his hearing but because I was afraid Robert had forgotten he had to be here and didn’t want him to get in trouble for being a no-show. Robert informed me that Client is a child support enforcement case, and they do not schedule child support enforcement dockets at 1:00 on Thursdays (also, apparently, the court system is REALLY anal retentive). The call ended with Robert promising to call the Court Clerk here just to double-check, and then, presumably, sit back and wait for the Bar complaint to roll in. (Not an uncommon occurrence; many of the indigent clientele seem to be unfamiliar with the adage “Beggars can’t be choosers.”)
So, end of story. All is well. Right? Perhaps. Or perhaps not, when you have a tendency toward paranoia such as I have. Situations like this make me very uneasy. It seems like these domestic/child support people are always the ones who snap and go all Smith & Wesson to exact revenge. And this isn’t exactly a model citizen we are talking about, here. The guy missed his last hearing because he was in jail. He’s paid $30 in child support in the past ten years. Robert got him a deal on payments previously and the guy never paid any of it, even then. Just the sort of person who’d decide to shoot his kids and his ex to get out of the payments, and take out the attorney who’d pissed him off just for good measure. And, now that he has our home phone number, fifteen minutes and a small fee on the internet could yield our address. So I’m sitting here with our land line phone and my cell phone next to me (you’ve got to have backup in case one fails) and I plan on answering any knocks at the door from the second-story window above. I’m hoping that Robert actually talks to this guy, and that the hearing wasn’t even today, and that Client’s tiny brain is evolved at least enough to grasp the realization that he has no reason to be angry with Robert. I do also hope that, on the off chance I’m actually right about this guy, stupidity coupled with lack of means combined will prevent him from forming any sort of solid plan. I’m fairly certain he’s got the stupidity part locked up, at least.
Man, I LOVE being married to a public defender. Never a dull moment!