Thursday, August 27, 2009

High Stress Job

I was in Douglas County District Court this week when I heard the Thunder Collins verdict was about to be announced. I have great respect for his lawyer, Steve Lefler, and always like the drama of a verdict, so I went in. As I waited in the courtroom, I struck up a conversation with a reporter, which wasn't hard as most of the 15 odd observers were members of the press. When I mentioned how difficult a trial such as this must be on the lawyers and their families, the reporter, whom I recognized from a lot of tv broadcasts, said, "I know how stressful it can be. I used to be a prosecutor in Denver." He went on to say that he gave it up, not only being a prosecutor but the practice of law altogether, and became a reporter.

When I mentioned that I empathized, having not had enough sleep this week and waking up in the wee hours thinking about cases, he said he used to do that too. "Now I sleep like a baby," he said.

I still couldn't imagine doing anything else though. As stressful as it is, I still find it exhilarating enough to make it all worthwhile.

Thursday, August 6, 2009


Had a chance to get away last weekend to Chicago with my family. It was wonderful. On Sunday, I jumped on the subway just before gametime and walked, ticketless, to U.S. Cellular Field, where the New York Yankees were taking on the White Sox. I walked past the ticket scalpers standing along the street and offered the guy right outside the stadium a little less than face value, it being the bottom of the first inning by that time.

The game was great, the stadium amazing, and the chance to see Mariano Rivera pitch and Melky Cabrera hit for the cycle a once a life chance for me. It was the third regular season major league game I'd ever seen and the first one that didn't take place at Kaufmann Stadium in Kansas City.

The only downside of an otherwise spectacular day came when the Yankee fan stood up, holding a sign, shouting "New York Yankees" in the middle of what used to be Comiskey Park. It was all in fun and the White Sox fans around me started shouting things back and joking around with the Yankee fans in our area.

Then the Chicago Police charged down to the section below us and a guy in a White Sox uniform stood up, obviously mad at whatever had just happened to him or because of those $6.75 plastic bottles of Miller Lite that circulated between the aisles a few times per inning.

When the cops, all eight of them, pulled the man up out of his seat, it was obvious he was upset. He seemed to be "making his case" to the cops, gesturing wildly and yelling. Then one cop who was standing one step down from the man, between him and the seat he had just been sitting in, tackled him, taking his head straight into the concrete steps of the aisle. Then, as the guy struggled beneath him, the cop stayed on top of him, knees of his chest as the guy appeared to be struggling either to get up or to breathe.

Then three more cops charged down the aisle, one slapping the guy in a headlock and the others each grabbing a leg, the cop who tackled him standing up as if taking down an unarmed drunk guy who was not threatening you while you're surrounded by six of your friends in body armor with tazers and guns was some type of contest.

What struck me most, however, wasn't the unnecessary violence, but the way the crowd applauded as the four officers drug the guy away, as if this was a part of the entertainment, the game. The guy next to me even remarked "he should have at least taken a punch at the cop out here since you know they're going to beat the *#$% out of him in the back."