“I keep getting older but they keep staying the same age…” – Matthew McConaughey in Dazed and Confused
Matthew McConaughey’s beloved character in Dazed and Confused intended this as a positive aspect of being in the company of younger individuals. I do not.
I grow weary of the same issues, the same ignorant positions, and the same unlearned practices. I keep getting older and more experienced in my craft, and the military prosecutors keep saying the same age.
I know, I know – this must sound like I have grown into the curmudgeon proverbially shouting, “Get off my lawn!” Frankly, I think I have been “there” for years.
This becomes especially evident for me when I have a conversation with a fellow Trial Lawyer who recounts what must seem like a fairly innocuous story about an interaction he had with a state or sometimes a Federal prosecutor. Wait for it… they are collegial with each other. There’s no huffing and puffing about scheduling a preliminary hearing. There’s no behind the back exposition of the trial lawyer being “untrustworthy.” Largely I attribute the civility in these interactions to be the years of experience and that with that experience comes a sense of comfort and self-assuredness. I believe the nastiness of interactions between military government counsel and defense counsel comes from feeling anxious because of inexperience.
Rather than to retreat into research, many military prosecutors become exceptionally aggressive.
Lately, I am seeing a new passive aggressive persuasion. Repeatedly uniformed prosecutors are contacting my military co-counsel. In most instances, meh, who cares, right? But when those same prosecutors relay to the uniformed defense counsel that they know I am “not trustworthy” and are asking for insight into my next “trick” that’s a significant problem. Perhaps these counsel have become so entrenched in the warm blanket of their own sovereign immunity from being inept at their jobs that they neglect to recall other terms like “slander.” Hmm.
I am guilty of allowing my frustration in scenarios to snapping back. The result is not civility that I long for.
When I begin to dream up ways of using my training in Master Resiliency to facilitate better relations among counsel, I remind myself that isn’t my job. It isn’t my job to stoke the fires of resentment, nor is it my job to fan the flames of antagonism. But I do not spark joy at trying to train government counsel or uniformed defense counsel about how to be good humans to each other.
Perhaps this realization stems from the unyielding reminders that the number of breaths we share are finite and that the only currency that is irreplaceable is our time. Perhaps it comes from having tried before and it didn’t “stick” anyway. Mostly I attribute my apathy to coach and mentor folks into remembering their humanity is that this person with whom I am dealing will only be in my universe for another 12- 18 months. Because the next rotation is coming as certainly as the sun rising again tomorrow. Lather, rinse, repeat. Another crop of inexperience will breed the same anxiety and aggressiveness from a lack of experience. And the middle managers largely are no better a position to foster good and normal relations because many of them were placed into their positions to “round them out” with some military justice time. Great, just great.
“Because I keep getting older, but they keep staying the same age…”
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