This is my last “Diary” entry, and I have to write it tonight (Thursday), given that the text has to arrive at Slate before 9:30 a.m., and I have a full docket in the morning. In case you’re interested in applying for this gig—the judicial one that is—here’s the tale of my day so far: Up at a few minutes before 6 to read files and sign orders and compose a piece for this journal, breakfast on the road, a divorce case to start the morning off with bile and black anger, three DUI trials, a couple of discovery disputes, a 30-minute lunch at a sandwich shop (picked up a Newsweek while I was eating—they had nice things to say about my book), a custody case, and a civil trial to end the day. The last case was sad and poignant, and some of the people involved left brokenhearted; we finished at 6:30 p.m. Without getting into the specifics of the final hearing (I have not yet signed the order), I debated during the trial whether it would be better to lose a child through death or to have a permanently estranged son or daughter. You can grieve for and put away a dead child; a child you love and who wants no part of you repeats the loss every day and tortures you with the hope of better things to come. I stop by the Landmark Center to see my mom; she’s in good spirits and can remember a few segments of her day. They’re having a party for the residents, cake and yellow punch, and a lady sings a Patsy Cline song while a couple of the nurses blow soap bubbles out of those plastic wands with circles on each end. It sounds surreal, but actually was OK—the woman had a good voice, and the bubbles were a hit with all the old folks. My mom walks with me to the door, anxious to get back to all that’s going on. My wife had to work late but left a good meal for me in the fridge.
Before I forget it, one of the clerks in my court pointed out to me that the Susie Scearce jury from Monday’s Diary had four women on it, not six as I had originally mentioned. I’m not sure how critical that is, but I suppose it’s good to be accurate and complete. I wrote the entry from memory and didn’t check the case file.
Tomorrow I’ll get up with the Mayor, eat breakfast with my wife, and spend the day trying criminal cases, deciding whether people are guilty or innocent. Before I leave home, I will petition the Good Lord for patience, a clear head, and the right measure of firmness. Every trial is still a struggle for me, from murder to speeding—I still turn them over in my mind and worry and think and try to get a good eye on everything that needs to be seen. And that’s the way it should be … it should be hard to take another person’s liberty or reach into his wallet.
All the information contained in these entries is available from court files and public records. Nothing confidential or privileged is revealed herein. Any case mentioned is a concluded case, no longer before Judge Clark. While those familiar with the facts of various cases will recognize the individuals involved, fictitious names will be used throughout this journal.