A local lawyer who I know — I’ll call him Rick — was recently sentenced by a federal court judge to 60 days in prison for taking money that belonged to one of his elderly clients. The Lawyer is in his mid-sixties. I want to share with you a letter that I sent to him after the judge handed down the sentence. I think you will agree that the advice that I shared with him would be of benefit to anyone. The sending of the letter was what I considered to be a spiritual work of mercy. Here’s what I wrote in the letter:
Last week, I wrote about a couple who was having financial problems because of the husband’s inability to work. Here’s what I wrote at the end of the article:
I’ve been a lawyer for more than 35 years. I’ve dealt with hundreds of couples who, after years of marriage, are facing an unexpected crisis. You would think that after being married for 20 or more years, married couples would be more patient and forgiving of each other than they were when they were newly married. But that’s usually not the case. The fact that they’ve spent years together seems to somehow inhibit their ability to practice real patience and forgiveness toward each other.
Last week, I had an appointment with a man — I’ll call him Jim — who hired me eight months ago to represent him on a personal injury case. As usual, Jim brought his wife with him to the appointment. I’ve met with Jim and his wife on four occasions over the past eight months. Jim was injured when a large truck disregarded a stop sign and collided with his vehicle in the middle of an intersection. Because of his injuries, Jim has not been able to return to work. He’s been without an income for eight months.
Last week, I ran into an old client at the Peoria County Courthouse. For the purpose of this article, I’m going to call him Noah. I represented Noah more than 20 years ago for some serious alcohol-related traffic ticket violations. During the last case that I assisted him with, I told him that it was obvious to everyone who knew him that he had a problem with alcohol. He became angry with me and refused to admit that he had an alcohol problem. After that, he continued to get into trouble with the law, but stopped coming to me for assistance.
Do you remember what your priorities were when you were eight years old? When I was that age (1965), I was in third grade. One of my jobs at home was to make breakfast on certain weekday mornings for my younger brothers and sisters. At that age, my primary goal was to figure out ways to get out of work around the house, so I could go outside to our family neighborhood and play with my cousins.
In 1996, my wife, Georgette, started experiencing severe headaches. At the time, she was pregnant. She went to her doctor and after an examination was told there was a growth behind her left eardrum. Her doctor referred her to Dr. Peter Smith, a specialist in St. Louis, and told her that she needed to see him as soon as possible.