Suicide Ever So Cruel

The news hit me like a bullet, stopping me cold and numbing me.

"Are you still there?" my secretary asked.

She had just finished telling me a long-time client killed himself today. His blood had hardly dried before the press calls started. He walked out onto the grounds of his property, put a gun to his head, and ended it all. Tout suite. I am reeling still. Some part of me is begging the gods for relief. Bad things keep happening. Walking in the shadow of death haunts me.

I thought I might have seen enough death for one day. The state and I gave closing arguments in a murder trial today. I stood in a courtroom and asked a jury of 12 to find that my client was justified in shooting a young woman to death. Her family sat only feet away. The courtroom seemed ankle deep in blood; it was hard to keep my footing. I am sure I stumbled.

When arguments ended, yet another legal issue emerged relating to the law of self defense. The state and I met with the judge. This new issues appears undecided in any authoritative way. The answer seems obvious to me and to the state; unforntunately, the state's position and my position are polar opposites. The judge must make a call. We end early to give him time to think about the issue. In the meantime, the jury went home and I got in my car happy to have made it through a bad day.

And now my client is dead. By his own hand. He leaves behind many who love him, including me.
This man came to me years ago in trouble, and I did all that I could to help him avoid the trouble. We were largely successful. In the course of representing him, I would frequently travel to Florida, to stay at one of his homes. My wife and I were guests at his estate in Connecticut. I spent hours with him, learning his business and discussing everything from books to politics to the state of the law. Just yesterday we exchanged emails about a case on which I was working for him. He seemed down. I made a mental note to call him when I had my verdict, to see if there was anything I could do for him.

And now he is dead. Just like that. I am the underside of a scab.

I wanted to cry on the drive back to my office. And I almost did. Then the lawyer in me surfaced. Death yields issues, and issues, as lawyers know, means busywork. I set about making calls to see what needed doing to wind up a long life passionately lived.

My client was not an easy man. He was sometimes more feared than loved. He did not tolerate fools, and he was wealthy enough to speak his mind with impunity. Tonight his mind is gone, and the body that housed it is to be cremated. I am angry that he left without so much as a goodbye, and reminded again that we come and we go far too quickly.

I want to say something to him now. But I cannot. And I will never be able to do so again. This is wrong, and there is nothing to be done about it. Suicide is cruel.

Comments: (4)

  • Norm, I am sorry for your pain and loss. There are...
    Norm, I am sorry for your pain and loss. There are no words that can ease it.
    Posted on September 22, 2009 at 11:16 am by Anonymous
  • One of my law professors compared practicing law t...
    One of my law professors compared practicing law to Twain's description of becoming a riverboat captain in Life on the Mississippi. Before he was trained, he saw the river's beauty. Afterward, the things he used to see in its surface became signs of a rise, a possible snag, etc., the things a lawyer used to see when hearing a story but now simply spotted as issues rather than beautiful or sad facts.
    I received a call from a woman today who wanted to know if she had made a mistake in cleaning up the aftermath of a suicide after she was told this was o.k. by a detective. It saved her son a few thousand dollars, which was the cost of a cleaning service for such a task.
    On the way home today, my 16 year old said, unprompted, how she didn't understand how someone could kill themselves when life seemed so beautiful and fun.
    I didn't have an answer for her.
    Posted on September 22, 2009 at 4:07 pm by Anonymous
  • dude, dude really? you have no shame.
    your a monst...
    dude, dude really? you have no shame.
    your a monster
    like a big faggot monster who has dirty sex with other criminal monsters
    Posted on September 25, 2009 at 5:55 pm by Anonymous
  • Try some new material. You have posted repeatedly...
    Try some new material. You have posted repeatedly tonight calling me a faggot over and over again. I accept the fact that you hate me; I suspect you are disappointed in the verdict in matt's case today. I am sorry to have offended you. Matt needed defending, so I did my job.
    Posted on September 25, 2009 at 6:33 pm by Norm Pattis

Add a Comment

Display with comment:
Won't show with comment:
What is the month?
*Comment must be approved and then will show on page.
© Norm Pattis is represented by Elite Lawyer Management, managing agents for Exceptional American Lawyers
Media & Speaker booking [hidden email]