Hamilton Herald Masthead


Front Page - Friday, October 31, 2014

Shot a man in Reno, just for snoring

Under Analysis

It is jacket and sweater over short sleeves time of year here in the Levison Towers. We get dressed in the morning as though we have no idea what season it is. In our defense, it’s dark when we get up.

I don’t blame Skip, the building super, for my clothing issues. When the temperature jumps from 47 to 75 degrees and back again in a 24 hour period, it’s impossible to flip from furnace to air conditioner correctly. Unless you’re a fortune teller.

I asked Skip if the uncertainty of temperatures was stressing him out.

“Not really. Heck, I get conflicting instructions within 30 minutes. Sometimes from the same guy. You work around lawyers long enough, and you get used to uncertainty.”

As usual, Skip is right. The only certainty in legal practice is uncertainty. Fortunately, lawyers aren’t the kind of folks who get stressed easily. (If this newspaper doesn’t have a font for sarcasm, you might have missed that last joke. Trust me – it was hilarious.)

I’ve had plenty of uncertainty this year. Two cases I thought would go to trial settled the weekend before. I’m now working on a case I thought would settle that will instead start trial this week.

Getting ready for trial is tedious, but I enjoy it. I can think of no part of my law practice which is more fun than trying a lawsuit. The tedious work required to get ready for the fun is another story.

Normally, I spend the weekend before trial finishing my trial prep, but last week, I was at a legal seminar. The seminar, a step toward graduation from the Trial Lawyers’ College, was three days of work from sunup to sundown. If it was a vacation, I need a vacation from that vacation.

Legal seminars, or at least the Trial Lawyers’ College, are typically held at beautiful locations. This one was in a remote lodge in Washington. Given that the sun sets early and we worked late each day, I can only assume that it was as pretty as the brochure said.

I’ve lived in the Southwest and Midwest all my life. It rained so much in Washington that I’m certain I grew gills. Or at least some mildew.

Because the cabins at the lodge had several beds, each student was assigned a roommate. I was conscientious and told them on the pre-seminar questionnaire that I snored. I even used my wife’s description: “I sound like a loaded freight train heading uphill.” As a reward for my honesty, I was assigned to Snore Jail – a room with two other gentlemen of similar age and sinus capacity.

The point of a vacation is to be more relaxed than you are at home. I don’t sleep with someone who snores at home. If you’re not aware, I can tell you it is quite disturbing at times. My wife offered no sympathy when I called her and complained.

In Snore Jail, a good night’s slumber was interrupted by the trips men of a certain age make in the middle of the night and the sound of not one but two freight trains rumbling in harmony. I can only imagine that this is the type of sleep deprivation used by military interrogators.

When I would see my roommates at breakfast, we only nodded and smiled apologetically. Each of us was ashamed enough at the ruckus we made to forgive the other. By the third day, I’d grown accustomed to the clamor and slept like a baby. I could suggest to my lovely wife that maybe she should be able do the same after seven years. If I were an idiot. Marital Jail makes Snore Jail look like paradise.

As always, it was nice to see my fellow Trial Lawyers’ College classmates. These are some of the best lawyers I know, and because they’re scattered around the country, I don’t see them often enough. It feels a lot like being a kid at summer camp when we are reunited.

It might seem odd to some, but after two decades of practice, I still feel my skills need more development. Then again, it could be that I’m just now realizing what other lawyers have seen in me for years – more work is needed. If I thought back to the confidence young me had, but with less skill and experience, I’d blush. The only certainty in trial practice is that I want to be the best I can be, and that takes constant effort. It also occasionally includes a sentence to Snore Jail. But I might pack some of my wife’s earplugs next time.

©2014 under analysis llc. under analysis is a nationally syndicated column of the Levison Group. Spencer Farris is the founding partner of The S.E. Farris Law Firm in St Louis, Mo. He doesn’t think he snores that loudly, regardless of what others say. Comments or criticisms about this column may be sent c/o this newspaper or directly to the Levison Group via email at farris@farrislaw.net.