Over the last week, David took part in his first criminal trial. This is unrelated to his new job, and is, in fact, the last thing he was working on as part of the volunteer public interest law work he’s been doing since September, but regardless, it was a big deal. He’d championed this case, spent hours researching it, talking it over, and meeting with the client. He’d even put off starting a paying job to work on it. (What can I say? Public interest law doesn’t pay quite as well—though you’ll never hear me say it pays poorly—but it’s passionate work.)
So last week, thanks to my flexible working hours (yay APW), I hied myself down to the courthouse at 8am, and after an hour or so of working on the site from the cafe, I was off to watch David do his first direct examination in front of a jury.
Well. I was off to watch David do his first real direct examination in front of a jury. Because, you see, due to a wonky twist of fate, I’m married to the person who led my High School Mock Trial Team’s defense. I lead the prosecution. (I will still tell you that I was better than David, my pseudo nemesis, and he will still tell you he was better than me. The record only shows that we got the same vast number of awards, and I made the court laugh more often, while he leaned towards seriousness.) At the end of the day, someone asked if it was weird to see my husband arguing in front of the jury, and I said, “No. It was just weird to see him arguing in front of the jury for real.”
But what really was intense was to see David doing work that was going to change the course of someone’s life (for better or for worse). To see him help defend a case he really believed in, to see the defendant look at him with trust, to see the defendant smile at me with relief at the end of a long day of testimony.
Because let me tell you straight out: I was a terrible law school girlfriend (and later wife). You hear tales of partners who listened intensely to the discussions had in class, who formed opinions on case law, who knew the ins and outs of each paper their partner was writing. I was not one of those people. I wasn’t even good at it socially. I mean, how many times can a person have a “Who is your favorite Supreme Court Justice?” conversation over drinks? The answer was always Stevens (the bowtie, he didn’t like his neighbors to know what his job was, he was a self-proclaimed conservative leading the liberal flank…) and then he had to go and retire, leaving me to say, “Breyer? Ginsberg? Oh, for f*cks sake, will someone pass the margaritas.”
So it came as a delight to me that I am, in fact, quite good at being a criminal attorney’s wife. I’d quit my job and move into the courtroom whenever David had a trial, if I didn’t think that would be profoundly odd behavior. I can give notes on staging a closing argument director style (all that theatre education being put to work). I will pound the table. I will give you my opinion on juror number six. I will have another shot and tell you that you’re going to win this thing. (Though dear God, don’t make me pick a favorite justice.)
This week made me think about marriage. It made me think about how, for us, one of the things we’ve always done best is be each other’s cheering squads. Arguably, I knew I was going to marry David because he made me feel like I could accomplish anything, and always helped give me the tools to do it. Hell, APW was his idea. He even thought up the name (though the work has been all mine). Married life allows us to provide a foundation of support for each other, a foundation that never lets our partners give up, and a foundation of cheering each other on.
This week was a good week. I got to cheer David and team on, tequila shot in hand. And that made law school feel worth it.
Picture: Self Portrait of us, Mexico