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Registered dress o-friend-er

Rosalyn Tang//September 14, 2011

Registered dress o-friend-er

By Rosalyn Tang

//September 14, 2011

Two weeks after I began in the state’s attorney’s office, the empty cubicle to my left became occupied by Pedro Shultz, a former law clerk with the judge I clerked for.

Pedro was a former courtroom clerk and decided to go to law school. When the judge asked him to come visit prior to the start of his clerkship, he came in wearing an untucked dress shirt, jeans, brown shoes and a beanie. I gave him the once-over and was unimpressed. The judge welcomed Pedro in.

“Hey, my man!”

“Hey, judge!”

Pedro had a cheeky smile. I couldn’t ignore the sloppy goatee. I was a believer that professional men should be clean-shaven. This guy would never cut it in this chambers.

The next day, I followed up with a phone call to Pedro to remind him to come observe court proceedings prior to the start of his clerkship. I called at 9:30 a.m. to see if he’d even be awake.

“Hi, this is Rosalyn from the judge’s chambers,” I said.

“Oh, hey,” he said.

As I suspected, he was still asleep. What a slacker.

“The judge wanted to set a date for you to come in and watch some cases before you start the clerkship,” I said. “Is July 24 OK?”

“Umm, I don’t know…probably not ‘cuz I got a bar class that day,” he replied.

“Okay, well, the judge wants you to come in some time.”

“We’ll see. I’m not sure what my schedule is looking like.”

I could hear the apathy.

“All right, well, you can let the judge know what date works for you,” I said.

I hung up and rushed to our aide. First, this guy comes into chambers looking like bum, then he doesn’t take the initiative to do as the judge asks.

Unbelievable. Who does this guy think he is?

During his first few days as a law clerk, Pedro would often use his cheeky smile and his boyish looks to charm all the ladies, whether they were law clerks, administrative aides or female judges. The men liked him, too, because he could shoot the breeze and be a man’s man. He’d flirt his way from chambers to chambers.

I saw right through it. He canned the hobo look and began wearing tailored suits and bow ties. His one fashion faux pas was tucking his sweater in his pants — and, of course, the goatee. He said the goatee made him look older; I thought it looked like he threw a few back and took a blunt blade to his face.

Pedro started at the state’s attorney’s office and we suffered through training together. After a hard day of running dockets, we would commiserate over a meal at a local Indian restaurant. We’d share stories from the day, vent our frustrations about people and the system and laugh over Naan and rice pudding.

One afternoon, I had a particularly harsh docket. The combination of hustling to find no-show officers and my trainer ripping files out of my hand in open court in her fit of frustration took its toll.

Pedro was talking about his latest loss, which involved trying to prove that the suspected marijuana was actually marijuana without expert testimony from the chemist.

“I mean, an officer can testify through his training and experience that it WAS marijuana, right?” he asked.

It was a rookie mistake, and the judge nearly fell out of the bench when Pedro tried to argue it. He scoffed at Pedro and issued a motion for judgement of acquittal.

But I was too despondent to try to console Pedro. I wondered if I had what it took to be a prosecutor. I had always heard training would break a person. I promised myself that I would never cry but I felt a hot tear roll down my face and into my butter chicken.

Pedro stopped arguing his point. He looked at me and knew how dejected I felt.

“Just think,” Pedro said, “Your docket is done. Each day, you have to think that at some point, ‘This docket will end.’ It may not end the way you want it to, but it eventually ends. And the next day is brand new. You learn from the mistakes from the previous day, and the next day you’ll do better.”

I looked at Pedro as he stared back with sympathetic eyes and my smile grew wider. I knew I found a friend in him, in spite of our beginning.

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