My Olympic hopes in track were abruptly dashed when I was diagnosed with Hodgkins Disease when a freshman in college at the University of Oklahoma. At NIH, in Bethesda Maryland, I met others with Hodgkins. For some reason I survived when others did not. Toby Gutwerk and Carlos Hernandez are in my thoughts always. I was 19 years old. It was 55 years ago when I set out in search of a reason for my survival.
Continuing my education at George Washington University and eventually going back to Norman, graduating from law school at the University of Oklahoma, I began a traditional career in the law; first as a trial lawyer with the US Department of Justice, then to Southern California where I began the practice as a corporate or business lawyer. But, perhaps because I was keenly aware of my blessings, I had become bonded to public service. Whatever I did professionally, I also worked a full pro bono menu, forming legal aid groups, representing alchohol and drug treatment programs, representing indigents in court, and participating in county and state bar activities. My most enjoyable day in court, in those days, was when I convinced a Municipal Court judge to issue an order restraining the FHA from foreclosing on a home owned by an indigent African American Woman. What fun!
Eventually, I moved to rural Northern California where I began my journey as a solo practitioner. There I worked in the trenches.The trenches led me to become Chief Trial Counsel to the Child Protective Service in my County. I also took a contract to represent victims of domestic violence living in the women's shelter, became court appointed counsel for children in hotly contested divorce cases, and managed a small general practice as well. My career in Calaveras County came to an end when I attempted to improve the working conditions of two women who were sexually harrassed in the office of the District Attorney. The County thought it was time for me to move on. I did move on, to Sacramento, California, where, I did a three year term as a Special Education Hearing Officer, adjudicating special education conflicts between parents and school districts in California. My Decisions were pubished in national legal journals.
After 40 plus years of service to the law, I retired to New Mexico to enjoy the art and cultural mix that is so unique to the Land of Enchantment. But I could not put down my pen and I decided to write about what I observed and learned over my lifetime, fictionally of course (because of the freedom it offers the writer to make a point), I also found it hard to stay away from children's court and continued to represent children in abuse and neglect cases in southern New Mexico.
I had the good fortune along the way to be mentored by many wonderful, ethical and public minded individuals in the profession - among them would be Fred Harris, a former US Senator, Mitchell Rogovin, a former Deputy Attorney General, Merton Bulla, who lost an election to become the mayor of Oklahoma City by one vote, and James R. Edwards, my former partner in a law firm in southern California. It is they, together with my life experience, who led me to the conclusion that everything good in life comes from love, extended from each of us to all of us - individually and collectively.
By connecting to the love in our hearts, we can fix anything.
Through my writings I seek to offer information about our justice system and the human beings within it, as well as offer hope to my readers that both can be fixed so that justice will, again, previal.