It’s not a secret who I am.
The so-called “Locke” and “Ishmael” and perhaps sometimes “Publius” who post here, they would be Clark Kent and Peter Parker, hiding their true selves behind a cloak of anonymity.* But click on Contributors, and you’ll find that I, Jeff Gamso, am Quixote. Which raises the question: If I’m not interested in being anonymous, why the hell am I not, as Norm Pattis did earlier today, posting under my own name?
Consider it an experiment.
As me, I fret and complain and carry on about injustice and indecency. I carp. I’m crabby. (I’m not Greenfield, but then nobody even within cab distance of sane is that crabby.) And while I may tilt at windmills (you can see that I’m getting to the Quixote part now), it’s always with the expectation that they will grab my lance and hurl me into the next county.
But Don Quixote wasn’t like that. In his madness (and he was mad, or so society understood him to be) he believed not merely that what he was doing was right and virtuous and noble but that it was likely to be successful. He wasn’t just a mad knight. He was a great knight. He didn’t think he was tilting at windmills, but if he had, he would have been sure that he would prevail (hence, the stupefaction when he did not).
I opened my first law office in 1988.
The office was a room in what had once been a rectory. The church had sold the building, and the owner converted it into apartments. A couple of years before I moved in, the apartments were turned into offices. Each of the offices had small reminders of what had once been. Mine was a single room – with a full bath that had been installed when the room was made an apartment. And the bathroom had a stained-glass window, hearkening back to its time as a rectory.
I furnished the office with a new desk chair; a used, battered client chair; a typewriter stand on which I put a CP/M computer for processing words; a fifty or sixty year old file cabinet; a cheap, metal, assemble-it-yourself bookcase; and the huge cardboard box in which the desk chair had come. Turned on its side, the box served as my desk for a couple of weeks: until the used desk I bought for $5.00 was delivered. For decoration, I had a wall clock, a framed print of a Nicole Hollander cartoon making fun of Ed Meese, and a replica of the Maltese Falcon.
The chair, the typewriter stand, the CP/M computer, the desk, and of course the box are all gone now. Lost to the years and the move from Texas to Ohio. I still have the clock, the print, and the Falcon though. I have the clock still because it continues to work and you can always use a wall clock. I have the print because it was a gift and its fun and I’ve never had my diplomas or bar admissions framed and you’ve got to hang something on the walls (besides a clock). And I have the falcon because it’s the Maltese Falcon.
The stuff that dreams are made of.
And if you think about it, that’s much of what we do.
Most of the time, the facts are not good for us. The law is not good for us. The judge is not good for us.
But we weave a story. At trial it’s mostly not through our own witnesses but through cross-examination – and then tie it up and offer it to the jury or the judge as a tale of Vindictive Prosecutor or Cops Gone Wild or The Lying Snitch or Blind Witnesses or Unreliable Lab Work or SODDI or Self-Defense or even, once in a while, Alibi. On Appeal it’s mostly about Judges Going Off the Reservation. In habeas, it’s Trial Counsel Cock-ups and Prosecutor’s Hiding Evidence.
Sometimes, often even, it’s true. But truth isn’t worth a penny if we can’t sell it.
We must be Quixote, must undertake the dream. To sell it, to beat the windmill, we have to believe.
So here, I adopt the persona.
We’ll see how it works out. I’m not optimistic that I can be some other version of myself here, but – Oh, wait, yes I can.
*Blonde Justice, who also apparently joined this gang, is in a different category since she is permanently anonymous, existing in the blogosphere (so far as we know) solely under an alias. She’s not hiding anything new here. (Actually, thus far she isn’t here at all, but that’s a separate issue.)