Friday, February 27, 2009

Endings and New Beginnings....

Today was my last day as a full-time employee at the Prosecutor's Office.

Most people nearing retirement have the luxury of slowly winding down their careers, anticipating their future life with a combination of wistfulness and excitement. For me, though, the last few weeks passed by in a blur. I had two major cases to prepare---an evidentiary hearing on a big murder case today, and a state Supreme Court argument next week---and had to confront and overcome a paperwork snafu at the retirement office. Taken together, everything kept me hopping---and the last few weeks have raced by.

This morning, I had to get to work early for my evidentiary hearing: the judge wanted to begin promptly at 8:30. I'd prepared carefully for the hearing---it involves some rather questionable psychiatric testimony by a doctor renowned for questionable and highly convenient opinions---and came to court armed and ready. Then, the judge did something unexpected, unwarranted, and highly illegal: he closed the hearing to the public---and even ejected the victim's family, who had a state constitutional right to be there, from this courtroom. I slogged my way through much of the hearing on the doctor's "home turf"---mostly scientific background testimony, laying the basis for challenging the admissibility and relevance of his testimony---and was just starting to zero in on my own turf: the facts of the case, and the factual weaknesses in the doctor's testimony---when the judge announced that he had to leave. The case is scheduled to reconvene on April 24th---and the press and legal communities are buzzing with the judge's actions. It should be interesting...but will give us some additional time to plan our attack. And, in addition, it will give some sense of continuity.

Decompressing after the hearing, Bob Agacinski took me to lunch at the Old Shillaleh, to celebrate my impending retirement.

Ironically...I also got to attend a wedding! Eric Doeh, a bright young prosecutor who's moved on to better things with the US Attorney's Office, was getting married in the courtroom of his old Judge---Tim Kenny, who was another colleague at the Office in days past. It added a touch of poetry to the day...bringing a new beginning, as well as a close to a chapter of my life that I'll always treasure. But it also showed how life is more a series of circles than a line...and that it's constantly changing, supplanting the old with birth and renewal.

Late in the day, after everyone had left, I took a final walk around the place...and then a trip to a local bar, where there was a gathering planned as a celebration for the new retirees. I joined them for a time, before heading home...and beginning the next chapter of my life.

How things will go remains a mystery, locked away in the misty future, to be revealed in due course. But though wistfulness tugs at my heart, in the end I find myself at peace...and excited by the chance to begin this new chapter while I'm still young enough to look to the future with anticipation.

JEFFREY CAMINSKY, a veteran public prosecutor in Detroit, Michigan, specializes in the appellate practice of criminal law and writes on a wide range of topics. His books include the science fiction adventure novel The Star Dancers, the exciting second volume in the Guardians of Peace-tm series, The Sonnets of William Shakespeare, and the acclaimed Referee’s Survival Guide, a book on soccer officiating. All are published by New Alexandria Press, and are available on Amazon, as well as directly from the publisher.

No comments: