The Life of a Criminal Defence Lawyer

Step into my world for a moment. Listen to the stories, see the snapshots of the lives I see at Court. Sit with the humanity in all its colour, and glory and sadness and hope.

A man looking at more jail time, pleads with a Judge to release him, so he can take care of his cat. Another begs for the return of a photo of his child. A woman rocks with worry, as a broken child testifies. She is the mother of an accused, a complainant, a witness. She is every mother, every woman who has wished she could still heal everything with kisses, and a bedtime story. A father sits in Court, jaw tense, fists clenched, powerless to fix a damaged life. If he cries at all, it will be in the arms of his son, when he walks from Court. A child complainant clings to the hand of a victim support worker, as she is lead into the room where she will testify by closed circuit television. She looks at me with wide, apprehensive eyes. I compliment on her pretty shoes, which are the colour of peacock feathers and northern lakes, and she beams with pleasure, the light smashing through her glaze of fear. The tension in her little body eases: this might not be so bad, after all.

And there is laughter. Laughter splashing through the Court house like summer rain. Laughter in the halls, as people share their stories. Laughter, sometimes, in the Court itself, in moments of warm humanity. And laughter and camaraderie when the work day ends. And over and over again, there is a thread that runs through the days and binds together all the players, even the accused and their accusers. It’s a thread woven of very simple needs: the need to be heard. The need to be respected. The need to be acknowledged, if only for a moment, as someone unique, someone distinct, someone with value.

Step into my world.

Ruth Roberts, Criminal Defence Lawyer

Bonn Law, Trenton/Belleville, Ontario