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Step Away From the Wrong: Fight Over Everything!

A court reporter asked me today, “Why do you have to fight over everything, Mr. Horowitz?”

I didn’t answer her. She picked up her computer, and walked away.

I didn’t answer her because the only thought that came to my mind was, “because everyone is pulling it out of their asses.”

And — believe it or not — I actually try to be nice.

But that’s exactly what happened today. We did not really follow “the law.” People — the people in power, that is — made up things that seemed right to them. It did not matter if what they made up was in direct contradiction to stated law. We went with what they pulled out of their asses.

Some of those things, I agreed with. Many of those things, I did not. But it did not matter whether I agreed, or disagreed. There were — there are — laws. And we did not really pay that much attention to them. Instead, we did what the people in power wanted us to do. And, by the way, that was not the judge; she just said the words the people in power wanted said.

Because they were the people in power. Because they were the only persons in the courtroom with guns. The judge did not matter; she was unarmed. I did not matter; I was unarmed. The prosecutor who did not offer arguments in opposition to mine did not matter; he was unarmed.

And, unless you are armed, your opinion in California’s courts does not matter. (Now you know why the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution does matter.)

[After I wrote this, another attorney pointed out that it’s not the guns they’re afraid of, it’s the law enforcement unions, because if the judges rule fairly — he says — the unions will go after them when they come up for re-election. He probably has a point. I still think the guns matter.]

It will surprise everyone except regular readers of this blog to know that the court reporter’s comments came at the end of a hearing about shackling in the juvenile court. After what should have been a ten-minute hearing on a violation of probation (VOP) for my client turned into a two-hour fiasco (counting “recess to review the law,” which resulted in a ruling not completely contradictory to current law), I requested a copy of the transcript from the hearing, in which I — the attorney of record — represented my client, and I was told by the court reporter that I could not have a copy of the transcript, which I need in order to file an appeal, or writ, “for privacy reasons.”

I was fucking there, for god’s sake!

This is the world in which we live.

Your attorney cannot have a copy of the transcript from the hearing in which he just represented you, because “privacy” dictates it.

Just like “justice” dictates everything else that happened during the hearing.

And, no, I do not practice in Guantanamo. I’m a criminal defense attorney in Fresno, California.

There was, of course, no connection between my being denied a copy of the transcript and the fact that, several times during the hearing, I expressed an intention to file a writ. No connection at all.

On returning home, hours after my telling my wife — perhaps three or four times — about my day, she says, “Maybe you should do personal injury.”

This, of late, has been a frequent discussion in our household. It was probably my fault. My malpractice insurance — haha! — is at a special rate because I do criminal defense only. And because criminal defendants have no rights, that means I get it dirt cheap, because just try to sue your criminal defense attorney for malpractice. Hell, we can sleep through trials and it’s not malpractice.

But for me, my rationale has always been “why go to a lung doctor for an ingrown toenail?” I want to focus. I actually want to be the best that I can be. I’ve always thought that lawyers who practice criminal defense-slash-family-law-slash-personal-injury can’t really do well by any of their clients. (Sorry, friends-of-mine-who-may-practice-these-multiple-non-overlapping-areas-of-law). And I recently mentioned that, to mitigate the financial ups-and-downs that come from strictly limiting myself to criminal defense, I had talked to my insurance company about the impact it would have on my policy if I started screening personal injury clients and referring them to the firm of a friend of mine. (Turns out the impact is HUGE. Many years ago, as an emergency-medical-technician-who-would-soon-become-a-medical-transcriptionist, I was taught that anyone responsible for someone’s life could make — shall we say — “x” dollars per hour, but anyone responsible for their paperwork could make three-times-x dollars per hour. It’s the same in the law. Paperwork-and-dollars trumps “freedom-or-incarceration” any day of the week.) My wife, who is more pragmatic than I, thought switching to personal injury instead of criminal defense could be a good move.

And — so far, anyway — I can’t do it.

I’ve resigned myself to the idea that this job will probably kill me. As another good friend of mine said today, “you need to learn not to care so much about this, or you’re going to die.”

Maybe so.

But I’m going down fighting. The mantra of my life is “bring it on.”

Or, to put it more bluntly, “fuck ’em.”

I don’t know how to fix our problems any more than I know how to end this post. The bottom line, though, is that what’s happening right now is not just. It’s not right. And I say fuck all those lawyers who keep telling me “it’s not about justice; it’s not about what’s right. it’s about what they can prove; it’s about the law.”

Yeah, it’s about the law — haha! — because we all follow that!

If it’s not about what’s just, or right, then we don’t need it. If it’s not about what’s just, or right, then we need another fucking revolution. Gang members — quit fucking killing each other! Who is responsible for keeping you down, Sureño? Is it a Norteño who arrests you for trying to survive?


Bulldog, is it a “rival” gang member who keeps you down? You self-hating peckerwood — now there’s something amazing: white people named after penises — do brown people hassle you? Or is it a cop? Don’t be stupid: it’s a cop. You’re fighting the wrong people.

And it’s time to step away from the wrong. For all of us.

If we can’t — if we’re going to fight — we need to quit fighting each other, and fight those who keep us down.

Brown-skinned dudes, quit killing other brown-skinned dudes (unless they wear the government’s uniforms). Peckerwoods, quit targetting non-whites who have no more power than you do. They are not your enemies. Your true enemies are the guys (and gals — let’s not be sexists just because they’re racists) in blue. Quit talking to them! Quit cooperating with them! They only use what you say against you. And they will arrest you even when there is no grounds for it — you already know that!

Your approach should be to try to live your life, as much as possible, without giving them one minute of your time. If they want to talk to you, you should ask, “Am I being detained, or arrested?” If they say “no,” then you walk away. If they tell you that you cannot leave, then you stay put, but don’t talk to them. Because they aren’t following the law when they detain you for no reason.

And if the government will not follow the law, there is no reason why anyone else should.

Let me repeat that:

If the government will not follow the law, there is no reason why anyone else should.

So this is the proposal I set forth:

To the government, you can start following the law, or none of us will.

To everyone else, if the government will not follow the law, you should stop pretending law means anything.

It’s time to step away from the wrong.

Start fighting over everything!