Joseph Farley

A Plague of Lawyers

It was a Tuesday, not much different than any other Tuesday. The city had recovered somewhat from the trauma of Monday, but had not yet reached the middle of the week. No, it was not Wednesday. People would not have tolerated it on a Wednesday, or so I’d like to think. On Wednesday you have moved a little closer towards the next weekend. It is a hill you can stand on and see Saturday in the distance. On Wednesdays there’s more hope, and a greater possibility for fighting back. 

That is just my opinion. I have heard the counter argument that Wednesdays are more complacent, less likely for rebellion, precisely because it is one day closer to the weekend. Grin and bear it. We’re almost there. Just two more days. 

I reject that belief. No. A plague such as this so close to the weekend would not have been tolerated. Anyone would have been able to see the risk it posed to the weekend, not just the immediate weekend budding on the horizon, but all weekends. No. It had to be a Tuesday. So it was a Tuesday. Not much different than any other Tuesday. But I’ve said that already. Time is short. No time for repetition. I must tell what happened while it is still fresh in memory, while details still are details, before they have begun to blend. No. The story must be clear.

As I recall it was close to noon. Not exactly noon. A little before or after. The sky had been clear until then. Suddenly it grew cloudy. No. Not suddenly. That’s not exact. Gradually. But not slow and gradual. A hurried gradual, but still gradual. What? You say that sounds “sudden?” It doesn’t matter. Details. Not every detail is important, but some are. Let me finish. Let me tell the whole story before you interrupt again with questions. Can you do that? You don’t know if you can? Fine. Ask. I just won’t answer. I’ll go on. It is up to you to listen.

Men and women in pinstripes, mostly blue and gray and black. And searsucker. There was some searsucker. Not much. Just enough to remind you of summer days at a court house in Georgia. They began falling from the sky. All were carrying briefcases. Brown and black briefcases. Most were expandable – the briefcases I mean, not the lawyers. If I am to be honest, some, the younger ones or more wild eyed, had backpacks. No, it was not a plane accident. It was something unworldly. They fell from great height, you could see it, but landed on their feet, heels in some cases, and started running. 

What do you mean you don’t believe me? No, it wasn’t on the news. But it happened. How do I know? I was there. I saw it all. Please, let me finish. You can pick my story apart after I’m done.

Well, you are right. They didn’t all land on their feet. Some went splat and just oozed away, down the drains or remained as some kind of stain on roof tops and road surfaces. But you interrupted me again. I had asked you not to. I know it is hard for you. You have questions. Everyone has questions when I tell my story, but you need to be patient or the process narrative will take much longer. Time is always tapping us on the shoulder, saying we should be elsewhere. Just listen.

They ran in all directions, the ones that could, thrusting petitions, summons, subpoenas, lawsuits of all kinds, and contracts into the hands of all they came upon. They barged into businesses, restaurants, offices. They shoved their papers through open windows of cars and into the laps of the drivers. They spread out, rampaging throughout the city raising legal mayhem.

No, they were not passing out religious tracts. Why must you keep interrupting! These were legal documents. Of course I know the difference. I was served by more than one of them. I had to find an attorney that had not come from the sky and hire her in order to defend myself. I was in court for months before the matters were dismissed as frivolous. By then I was bankrupt. Why? Legal fees, court fees, depositions, motions, subpoenas, the time away from work. The scandal of it all affected my family and business. I lost customers. I lost contracts. I lost my wife. Lost my business. The divorce compounded things. That’s why you see me the way I am now, dirty and disheveled. It was the plague. I was one victims. 

What plague? The plague of lawyers! Haven’t you been listening? You must pay attention. Every word I say is important. Of course you have not heard of it before. No one wants to talk about it. They can’t. They’re not allowed to. Not everyone fought as hard as I did to clear their name. There were many settlements with releases signed, all with non disparagement clauses and specific wording barring discussions of the lawsuit and all incidents leading up to it with anyone, especially the media. I have searched for years for someone, anyone else who went through what I did. I have met those who let their eyes meet mine, and seemed to acknowledge the truth of that day and the months of terror that followed, but none would or could say anything. They were all bound by the terms of their agreements. They had to be. Who knows, I may be the only one who can talk about it without legal repercussions.

Can you please not interrupt? If you can’t control yourself I will have to try to ignore you. What were the terms of the agreements? How would I know that? You are right. I did say before that I would ignore you, but that’s not always easy to do. I’ll do my best to ignore you. It requires focus. Unfortunately I do not always have that. There are so many other things tugging at my mind. Please do your best not to say anything until I am finished. Yes, I know it will be hard for you as well. It is natural to have questions, to want to comment, but time is limited. I can’t be here with you for as long as you or I might like. Am I being watched? Probably. But I also need to keep moving, go elsewhere, share the news with others.

Since you asked about the settlement agreements I’ll tell you what I do know, which isn’t much. I can only go by what was suggested as a resolution to me. What did they demand? The first request was a jar of pickles, a thousand dollars, and for me to hop on one leg in public while singing Yankee Doodle. Of course I rejected the request. The demands went up and down from there, but I refused to bargain. The fallen attorneys who sued me huddled in the judge’s chambers, and made a final demand for me to lower my pants and slap my own rear a dozen times. I rejected that out of hand. It was about dignity, my sense of self. Principal. Yes, I lost everything, but I won. I won. The cases were all dismissed and rejected on appeal.

Clearly, you can not refrain from asking questions and I lack the discipline to ignore your questions. Look at the time? I can’t stay here long. Just let me finish my testimony.

What was I charged with? I won’t tell you. It is too demeaning. The court dismissed all of the allegations. The judge said the cases were unprovable, ridiculous, impossible. I believe they sued her afterwards. I believe the judge settled. I read that she retired from the bench after gargling vinegar and decorating her robe with onions. But that doesn’t matter. The fact is there was a plague. It may still be going on. Spreading. But no one talks about it. Those who know about it are all sworn to secrecy due to those damned releases.

My court cases? Yes, you could look them up. No, there won’t be anything in the record of lawyers falling from the sky, but that happened. Yes, the charges and the decision can be found if you use the right search engine. Give you my name? No. I won’t do that. I value my privacy. I would have liked to tell you more about the plague but I’m out of time now. You interrupted too much. But I can give you this. Take it. What is it? You can read it yourself. It’s in your hands now. Open the envelope. A lawsuit? Yes, I guess it would be. I work for them now. Who? The fallen lawyers. 

They started a firm a few months after they landed. Quite successful I understand. After I had lived on the streets for a few years, they searched for me an offered me a job. I was suspicious, resentful, but in no position to reject their assistance. They hired me as a process server and general delivery person. This is my first week on the job. It doesn’t pay much, but it’s helping me start over. I guess they’re not all bad, or shall we say, a little short of being totally evil. I think they’re trying to make amends for what they put me through. One gave me a jar of pickles this morning with a ribbon and bow on it. Another bared her ass in the hallway and gave it a slap. I took these actions as almost an apology, or as close to an apology as a fallen lawyer is capable of providing.

What should you do? I can’t tell you what to do. Hire a lawyer if you want. I have a dozen cards I could give you if you need one. Are they all fallen? Probably. They’re the only lawyers I know now. Should you settle? I haven’t read your papers. It depends on you and your situation. And your sense of integrity. If you have that it could cost you more. Homeless? Well, yes. I was for a while. Just a few years. I am in subsidized housing now. And I’m working. It could be worse. 

Don’t cry. What? You don’t want to wind up like me? I don’t know how to take that. What’s wrong with who I am? I am human. I still have my pride. What are you doing? Stop! Pull your pants back up! It will do you no good to slap your cheeks now. I only serve the papers. Call the firm if you want the negotiate.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s