Back Again

 Posted on January 02, 2008 in Uncategorized

Even though I recognize the importance of taking time off, I haven't been very good at taking vacations lately. Before last month, it had been years since I was out of cellphone reach for more than three or four days. Paris changed that. Since our return, I've been taking it easy; this vacation stuff is addictive. Not much court business is transacted during December anyway, and I've got four jury trials in three counties stacked up in January, so I might as well enjoy the down time now.

Aside from a bit of travel, I got my project car 98% ready to drive, and I read a few books.

Zeb, a regular reader of Defending People, had recommended Richard Harris's Freedom Spent, so I read and enjoyed that. It turns out that the following idea isn't a new one:

... all governments in all places at all times try to increase their power, at the expense of the individual. In short, government is always the enemy of the individual.

It's comforting that I'm not the only person to recognize this self-evident truth. The book contains three accounts of individuals' clashes with the government: over their First Amendment (right to self-expression), Fourth Amendment (freedom from unreasonable searches), and Fifth Amendment (right to remain silent) rights; incorporated into each factual account is a summary of the history of the right. Fascinating, scary, depressing stuff. Harris - writing in 1976 - was more optimistic than I am about the chance that we might regain our lost freedoms. Freedom Spent is out of print, but widely available used.

"Freedom Spent Tales of Tyranny in America" (Richard Harris)

Most of my gifts from family were books from my Amazon wish list, most of which have precious little to do with the theme of Defending People. One was Alexander Roy's The Driver. Roy set out to set the New-York-to-L.A. driving record; The Driver is the chronicle of his quest to do so. It seemed to me that large chunks of the narrative were missing - a couple of times after turning the page I turned back to make sure that I hadn't inadvertently skipped a chapter. I would have enjoyed more of the story, but what there was of the application of brainpower, technology, and sheer obsessive will in the aid of a goal (with no socially redeeming qualities whatsoever) gripped me.

(Speaking of brainpower, technology and obsessive will in the pursuit of antisocial goals, The Driver reminded me of another such chronicle, Neil Strauss's The Game [which I mentioned in one of my very first posts], a book that actually carries lots of lessons for the criminal defense trial lawyer.)

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