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Valerie MacEwan


Sycophant Boy takes state-appointed cases when the Public Defender has an over-load. He thinks the increased caseload will help him in his quest to become a partner in the firm which currently has no partners. The previous steady stream of evacuating lawyers, bailing out after just a few months with the practice, bodes ill for Sycophant Boy. Currently the firm is comprised of Small Attorney, the firmís owner, and "Associates" which means Sycophant Boy.

The Boy represents those about to be involuntary committed, defends deadbeat parents, and tries to free the occasional felon. He racks up around a hundred bucks an appearance. He could make more, but he doesnít track his time or make any note of mine. The firmís legal software is too complex for him.

Every two weeks, on Thursdays, the county holds Involuntary Commitment Hearings. I call it "Crazy Court" because when someone in the office asks me where the attorney is and I try to explain using legal terms, their facial expressions remind me of someone who needs to be placed in protective custody. Reduced to a common term, "Crazy Court" -- they understand. So, Crazy Court was last Wednesday. I suppose the intent was to figure out where some folks would spend Thanksgiving. Basically there would be two choices; either in the arms of psychiatric professionals or in cardboard box apartments under the old Tar River bridge.

On this day Sycophant Boy represents two middle-aged men. The men and their court-appointed attorney stand behind a large table, ready to face the Judge. Sycophant Boy is dressed in his usual natty style. Heavily moused hair, Brooks Brothers knock-off suit, crispy white shirt with Ralph Lauren logo, cashmere-looking overcoat folded just so on the back of his chair. He clicks his ballpoint pen incessantly as he waits for the Judge. The two defendants stand motionless beside him. They wear dingy cotton orange jumpsuits and plastic flip-flops with white socks, state-issued.

The judge enters the room. Court is in session. Sycophant Boy turns to the man to his immediate left and says, "Is there anything you'd like to say to the Judge?"

"Yes, there is . . . Your honor, I have women in my pockets."

Sycophant Boy turns to the second man, "Is there anything you'd like to say?"

"Yes . . . Your honor, I pooped in my pants."

Man Number One raises his right hand, then speaks. "I have something else I need to say today. Your honor, I have a dog in my stomach."

A little while later Sycophant Boy returns to the office. Tells the tale of Crazy Court and comments on Man Number One. "He's the most sane man I know. That's where women belong, in your pocket."

He's not kidding.

Valerie MacEwan is a paralegal in eastern North Carolina.

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