Wednesday, April 6, 2011


First of all, I want to say thank you to my friends and family members who have been very sympathetic, encouraging and supportive over the past three days in the wake of the tragedy of Sunday.  As upset and sad as I am about what happened between him and his father, my pain can only be a fraction of what his family is going through.  The struggles that they have gone through were so much more monumental than anything I did.

The factor that is probably the most difficult to deal with is the feeling that no matter what, despite the best efforts of so many people, that we failed.

The night I found out what had happened, I went to my sister and her husband's house.  There were a lot of tears cried, cigarettes smoked, and beers drank.  I think there can be a very helpless feeling when you know that you tried to give your best effort to something to make it work and it just doesn't happen.

I was feeling pretty jaded on Sunday night.  I wrote a post that night, sitting by my sister's pool, long after everyone in the house had gone to sleep.  It was after God-knows-how-many beers, and I at least had the wherewithal not to post it in my condition at the time.  I only shared that post with one person, and I won't be sharing it with anyone else.

But I kept it to go back and read.

I was feeling pretty damn beat to hell that night.  The world, as a whole, just seemed like a very bad place and it was very easy to think about the futility of trying to make it better when the odds seem so very stacked against you.  Especially when the results of the failure are so devastating.

When I woke up the next morning, next to my five-year-old, it was light again.  Lo and behold the sun had risen.  I got up to face the day.

At 7:30 that morning, I got a call from a police officer on a case where I'm trying to help another kid out of a bad situation.  The officer was very kind on the phone when I told him why there wouldn't be anything I could do on the case that day.

Moments later, I heard a thud from upstairs in my sister's guest room.  My boy had fallen out of bed and was crying.  I went and picked him up and made it better in the way that only Daddy or Mommy can.  I talked on the phone to people from my past and people from my present  I went to lunch with my Dad and Sister before coming home to Houston.

After dropping my son off with his Mom, my friends were waiting for me in Houston to take me out and cheer me up.  My group of friends here, and you know who you are, aren't really the type to get mushy and sentimental, but I hope they know how much that helped.  It was the first time since learning about the tragedy that I at least cracked some semblance of a smile.

And yesterday, I was back at work.  Hopefully trying to help somebody else.

The point of this rambling and probably overly-personal post is that in life, we all tend to pick each other up when the other falls down.

Or at least we try to.

It is just responding to the Better Angels of our Nature.

You can throw yourself headfirst into a situation that seems insurmountable, whether it be a case, a relationship, or just trying to help a friend who was long-since salvageable and still fail.  There are no guarantees on what the outcome of any situation will be when human nature is a factor in it.

But, as cliched as it may sound, even when you do fail, you simply must not quit trying.  You may lose your case.  You may lose your relationship.  You may lose your friend.

But the sun will still rise in the morning and there will be other cases, other relationships, and other friends that you can contribute to.

You only truly fail when you quit trying.


Frank G. said...

I'm not known for my praying abilities, but, you are in mine.
"Jim" couldn't have asked for a better friend than you.

Anonymous said...

True words. Great post.

Anonymous said...

That was an extremely beautiful and thought-provoking post. Things happen sometimes that we can't really explain or even fathom, and the only thing we can do is to just keep breathing--moving forward the best that we can. You didn't fail. You did everything that you could for your friend. Ultimately, the choice, if it was one, was his alone. You were there for him when many weren't. You supported him when many didn't. And you tried to get him help for a problem that he just could not face (whether consciously or not).
You are a good person, Murray Newman, and you have an amazing ability to touch others with your heartfelt stories and posts. You have helped a number of people deal with tragedy. You have also opened so many eyes about mental illness and the ramifications of extreme paranoia. Since I first read about your friend, I am particularly careful and aware of how I treat people. You painted a picture that will not leave many of our minds and in doing so, made many of us better people.
God bless you. Know that while we may sometimes seem to be on opposite sides, we are colleagues, advocates, and friends. I am praying for you.


Brandon Dillon said...


Thanks for sharing the more personal aspects of dealing with this. I'm a baby lawyer and "trying" is a pretty good description of my professional life right now. Though the issue you're working through is much bigger than simply getting shut down by a judge for looking to young and clueless, it's comforting to see older, experienced 'docket dawgs' struggle with the same doubts and nurse the same wounds that I do.

But really, thanks for sharing your experiences. They've helped me form a more complete picture of exactly what I'm stepping into, professionally and personally. As I said the other day, you can play "what if..." all day long, but if Jim had never came into your life the way he did, you never would have written about it, and you never would have illuminated this serious issue to so many readers. You've certainly caused me to think about the way I think about the "crazy" guy in holdover. It's suddenly not such a funny story to hear over beers with colleagues.

So again, I appreciate you taking time to impart a bit of wisdom and experience to someone who barely has enough of either to practice law.

Thanks, and still praying for you, yours, Jim and his family.

Anon 11:30pm said...

Murray, as I posted on your last blog at 11:30pm I don't see things your way. And for that you call me a "douche" and a "blithering idiot." When you don't like what someone says, you call them names? The only person allowed free speech here is you, I guess. If that's how you're going to treat your readers then you shouldn't allow posts.

All I was saying was that I believe your grief is misplaced. Just as I never grieved for the incredibly sick Andrea Yates, but for the loss of her kids, I wouldn't grieve for Joel, but for the loss of his father. I do feel for you because I consider us friends. I know you feel for Joel's family but you wrote it as though Joel was the victim here. I have been in this situation before. I found it surreal and very hard to believe but I never once felt sorry for my sick "friend."

Anonymous said...

Dear Anon:11:30 P.M.: Re:

"I have been in this situation before. I found it surreal and very hard to believe but I never once felt sorry for my sick "friend."

Then you NEVER were your sick friend's friend.

Physical wounds heal much more quickly than mental ones - if at all. Mental illness is insidious and complicated and until YOU sir have walked in the shoes of a true friend in a situation like this you are simply MENTALLY incapable to understand what Murray has, was, and is trying to put communicate here. May you see the light, but the scales must fall off your eyes first.

Enough of this anonymous crap too:

Larry Standley

Anonymous said...

"The only person allowed free speech here is you, I guess. "

Free speech cuts both ways, vinegar-boy. You can say whatever you want, and in turn people have the right to tell you what a blithering piece of crap you are. America--F*ck Yeah.

Ron in Houston said...

I think you have a bit of what I call "white knight" syndrome. While as lawyers we often can make a difference, I think we sometimes greatly overestimate our ability to help people. We get used to being the "white knight" and then feel like a failure when we're unable to effect change.

In the end all we can do is our best efforts and whatever happens is out of our control.

So, yeah, you only fail when you quit trying.


Anonymous said...

10:54, you make an excellent point. In many ways, I am right there with you on the similarities between this and the Yates case, and the disproportionate response that some will show for them both.

But there is a time and a place for it, and you were pretty douchey.

Judge Standley, I seriously question whether or not you should be posting on blogs. You should probably follow up with the county attorney.


A Harris County Lawyer said...

Anon 11:30,
My feelings regarding Joel right now are the absolute definition of ambiguity. I don't believe him to be a "victim" of anything other than himself, but whatever road he took to get where he is now does not change the fact that I mourn the loss of the friend I used to know. My sister actually summed it up much more eloquently than I could on a post she wrote for Facebook. Your tone on the other post and here seem like little more than taunting to be honest.

Judge Standley,
I appreciate your words and your compassion more than you can know, and I couldn't agree with you more. People who will stand beside you when the going gets tough are friends. Those who leave at the first sign of difficulty aren't worthy of that title.

I have to say that I'm surprised at you for calling out Judge Standley for posting his opinion, and disappointed that you would try to discourage him from speaking. He signed his name, which is more than you and 99.9% of the other posters have ever done on this blog. Although he didn't sign his title along with the name, we all know him as a Judge. His signature to his comment shows a lot more integrity and guts, if you ask me, because he has such more to lose by signing his name than a civil attorney who doesn't practice criminal law.

He did not sign away his 1st Amendment Rights when he became elected.

The criticism coming from an anonymous poster who writes such bombastic things as you do is hypocrisy of unparalleled proportions.

Anonymous said...

Easy there, killer. Sitting (and campaigning) judges all over the country are getting in trouble for posting on social media. It is very often a leading cause of their recusal from certain cases.

As for anonymous and bombastic, well, I have yet to hear you call out one of your ADA buddies for their anonymous and bombastic comments.

And finally--saying things like "let's use PR bonds" and :hey, let's not convict innocent people" might have been bombastic when you were an ADA, but you should probably view those things as goals you try to help achieve now that you're on the dark side, don't you think?


Anonymous said...

Tomorrow at a funeral in Waxahachie,the life of Bob Morris will be honored. He will be remembered as a good man and the embodiment of a good father. His life was a testament to unconditional love. His friends and family will shed their tears for him and his senseless death. Then they will say "Goodbye".

But I can't help thinking that there is another person that I have to say goodbye to in order to move on. My sweet Joel. He has been gone for a very long time.

The Joel Morris that took his father's life on Sunday is not my Joel. That was a man that's life was ravaged by mental illness. My Joel could never have done something so horrific. Never.

And even though I will not ever stop loving Joel, I have to keep reminding myself that the man that we are left with is a stranger now. But I never got to say goodbye to my Joel.

Joel was my older brother's best friend. The good-time guy Joel and the straight-laced Murray were a bit of an "Odd Couple", but Joel quickly became a part of our family. He kept us all laughing and he was around all of the time. He taught me how to drive a standard car around the park across the street from my house. We spent hours on the phone. He was there to see my off for my Senior Prom. He comforted me on some of my darkest days.

We stayed close during college and after he moved to Dallas to go into business with his dad. Then he started dating a mutual friend and they came to Bryan often to visit her family. During one of these visits, he introduced me to my sweet husband, Travis, who was also one of Joel's very best friends. We eloped three weeks later and Joel always took great pride in taking credit. To this day, Joel is the only person that has seen our wedding video.

When Joel told us he was dating one of my best friend's sister, we knew at once that this was the one he would marry. He called us early (and Joel didn't do early) on a Saturday to tell us that he had proposed. And although the marriage sadly didn't work, I think that those were the happiest times of his life.

When Travis and I bought our first house, we bought Joel's childhood home. When Joel came to visit, he loved to stay in his old room. And when we had our son, we gave him "Joel's room". Joel would say that he couldn't wait to teach him to sneak out.

That was Joel. He was always the life of the party. And if there wasn't a party at the moment, he made it one. He never met a stranger. Joel was always happy, gentle and kind. He was a good friend. I miss him very much.

Trav and I realized that Joel was suffering from serious mental illness about three years ago. We watched with sadness and a little fear as he moved further and further away from reality. The last time I saw him in person was this past July. He showed up at our home and he was obviously not well. I was scared, but I hugged him and told him that I loved him. He told me that he loved me, too, but I got the feeling that this Joel didn't know what love was anymore. We asked him if we could help him and he said that no one could. I cried when he left.

That is the Joel that we are left with now and I am angry about that. I want my old Joel back. But because I know that will never happen, I want and need to take this time to say goodbye to my Joel.

Goodbye, sweet friend. I love you.

Anonymous said...


Judge Larry Standley here. Simply put, I send the following treasured item Judge Sherman Ross shared with me many years ago. I can not add nor takeaway from this...;it's speaks my heart of what a true friend you were to this haunted and tormented individual. We should all be so lucky to have YOU as a True Friend - God Bless you and your son...L.S.

A True Friend,

"Oh the comfort, the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person, having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words, but pouring them all right out, just as they are -- chaff and grain together -- certain that a faithful hand will take and sift them, keep what is worth keeping, and with the breath of kindness blow the rest away"

Dina Mulock
British novelist and poet in the 1800s

Anonymous said...

I am so sorry to hear about what happened. Your post made me think of a song by TobyMac, it's called Get Back Up and you can read the lyrics here

God are a terrific dad and friend!