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Justice Bedsworth and the Kindness of Lawyer Mentors

Only a few people have that gift that can make people laugh and cry at the same time: Mark Twain, Molly Ivins, and others.  Sometimes I think we can include on that list California appellate court’s:
Federal District Court Judge David O. Carter and I were rookies together in the Orange County District Attorney’s Office. Dave was a decorated war hero who ran marathons and I was an overweight ex-college ballplayer. Other than that, we had nothing in common.
I’ve thought of that exchange a lot this fall. Erwin Chemerinsky, who is impossible to say “No” to, has me teaching an appellate advocacy seminar at UCI Law. I spend three hours a week now trying to map the locations of appellate Scylla and Charybdis to 2L’s and 3L’s. Three hours a week trying to save them from having to live—personally or vicariously—Dave Carter’s two-week misdemeanor thrashing.
I had them in chambers last week and was going through a file, identifying the documents for them….
No one did that for me when I was in law school. So when Judge Frank Briseno, then a felony trial deputy in the DA’s Office, gave me my first felony to try, and asked me to take note of a quirk in the information, I couldn’t find it. Not the quirk, the information.
Frank watched me fumble through the file a couple times, then smiled gently and softly said, “You don’t know what an information looks like, do you?”
“No,” I stammered. I’d only tried misdemeanors.
Like my students, I was a bright kid, but I had no experience. I was so wet behind the ears you could have grown rice on my neck….” [Link to Justice Bedsworth’s November 2011 column.]
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