Attorneys are strange and mystical creatures who can be found furtively darting down dark hallways, speaking in strange tongues and issuing things called “motions” that generally don’t move anything along. Why, over the millennia, many famous folks have said many famous things about attorneys
Clarence Darrow quipped, “The trouble with the law is lawyers.” Will Rogers – the man who never met a man he didn’t like – said, “The only way you can beat the lawyers is to die with nothing.” Let’s not forget what Oliver Wendell Holmes said; “Lawyers spend a great deal of their time shoveling smoke.”
Then there was that famous line by The Bard, but even I tend to think that offing them all would be a wee bit extreme. The truth is, everybody bitches about lawyers until they actually need one – or in my specific case – at least three (Thanks Jeff, Amanda and Brick!)!
Why, some of my best friends are attorneys, but they’ve asked me not to list them here because being associated with a humor writer is so much worse.
As you know, I already have a particular predilection for public defenders, or “PDs” as they’re more colloquially known. These fine and mostly female folk eschew legal fame and fortune to see that the least of our biblical brothers and sisters get a fair shake in a system that’s generally stacked against ‘em.
So I was exceptionally dismayed when I learned about what happened to a Kane County PD at a North Aurora eating establishment called The Little Red Schoolhouse.
To set the stage, during a previous visit, our PD struck up a conversation with a bartender in which her occupation came up. No big deal, right? There’s certainly nothing unusual about a barkeep and patron chewing the fat. In fact, our PD even bought Little Red Schoolhouse t-shirts for herself and her son.
But when our intrepid PD showed up at The Little Red School House last weekend with her husband in tow, that same bartender explained that, since she was a public defender, and since a PD defended an individual charged with a crime against her friend, as the sign on the wall said, she refused to serve her. Then she asked them both to leave.
Really? Not only is that one hell of a stretch, but the right to refuse service is not nearly the absolute that some folks think it is. Refusing to serve an unruly group or individual is, indeed, a right, but banning an entire group based on any kind of blanket prejudice never ends well – just ask Denny’s what happened when they tried to stop serving black folks.
Oh! And if you’re gonna refuse service to a group based on some absurd and overly delicate sensibility, It probably shouldn’t be one that litigates for a living. That generally won’t work out too well, either.
Our PD did attempt to rectify the situation with someone purporting to The Little Red Schoolhouse’s owner or manager, but he or she politely told them to pound sand before they blocked her. Being privy to that private conversation, I approached the same individual in an attempt to bring balance to the force, but my efforts were similarly and summarily rebuffed.
So this is where we are in 2017? Not only do PD’s have to suffer the slings and arrows of the outrageous 16th Circuit all-male judicial choir fortune, but now they can’t get a burger and fries without being grilled?
I understand this story has a certain Monty Python-esque quality to it, but if you were the one banned from a restaurant because you were union, a village trustee, a Democrat, or God forbid, a humor writer, it wouldn’t be nearly as funny as you were the one being escorted out the door.
I’ll say it again! When the criminally charged have to face the full weight of the people, our entire justice system depends upon their right to a zealous defense. Anything less puts us on a par with North Korea where trials are mere theater.
How many innocent men have been freed from Illinois’ death row?
So here’s what’s going to happen!
First, I don’t plan on visiting The Little Red Schoolhouse anytime soon and I hope you join me in that regard.
Second, because this isn’t the North Aurora I know and love, I will make the Village Board and Mayor Dale Berman aware of this unfortunate situation. That means the North Aurora Liquor Commission will have all the details as well.
Remember, a liquor license is a privilege – not a right.
And third, I hope that PD, or one of her scurrilous attorney friends, sues this restaurant’s pants off. Sometimes freedom of speech can get very expensive.
I’ll certainly keep you posted on this one!