A former client of mine wants me dead. At least that is what the federal prosecutor told me yesterday in a late afternoon phone call. My client is reaching out for hit men in his new home, a federal prison.
There is a wonderful irony to this turn of events. This is the same client I had defended on charges that he had conspired to burn down an apartment building to prevent its occupancy by people of color. When an undercover federal agent foiled that plan, my client looked for hit men to take care of the agent and an inconvenient witness.
Of course, he made the mistake of writing home to his mother to tell her about it all. The letters were intercepted.
We entered a plea to threatening and related counts, and at the sentencing hearing I argued that my client was no tough-talking Tony Soprano. No, he was more of a trash-talking Danny DeVito. The judge disagreed with me, and now the client serves a 14-year sentence.
What do you do in circumstances such as these?
I called my client's mother, who, in her mid-80s, still can't believe her 54-year-old son is capable of hurting a flea. "Tell him to knock it off," I told her. "The feds are still watching him, and now he's looking for someone to kill me."
Of course, she didn't believe me. So this morning when I arrived in the office, I took note of unfamiliar cars. Life is risk, after all, and some days the risks seem substantial.