Saturday, March 3, 2018

10 years of Blogging

The other day I was browsing the internet and checking out some different blogs when I noticed that Scott Greenfield was celebrating his 11th year of legal blogging at Simple JusticeFirst off, congratulations to Scott for writing the best legal blog on the web for 11 years.  He publishes several well-written, scholarly and insightful posts a day.  I am in no way, shape, or form comparing my blog to his here, but it did make me realize that I just passed my 10 year blogging anniversary and had failed to notice it.

My first blog post on this site was January 8, 2008.  Since then, I've written over 1200 posts, had almost 19,000 comments, and 3.5 million page hits.  Although the posts are all mine, some of those comments and page hits actually came from other people!  Looking back at some of my posts, a lot of the topics and a lot of the writing are cringeworthy.  Others are not so bad.  Every once in a while, I find one that I'm actually proud of.

I started the blog when I was a felony chief prosecutor in the 339th District Court under Judge Caprice Cosper.  I was married to a fellow prosecutor and we had a two year old son.  That seems like a different lifetime ago.  Today, I've been a defense attorney almost as long as my career as a prosecutor lasted, I've divorced and remarried, that 2 year old is now 12 and has a 4 year-old younger brother.

Blogging grizzles a man, I tell ya.  Makes him fat, too, apparently.

This blog began anonymously, shortly after the beginning of the e-mail scandal that would ultimately cost then-District Attorney Chuck Rosenthal his job.  The racist and sexist e-mails from our leader had led to a complete backlash against the District Attorney's Office as a whole.  We were getting slammed in the Chronicle and every other media outlet.  At one point, when picking a jury I started asking potential jurors if they already had decided that they hated the State because of who our elected D.A. was.  The answers were distressing.

The public perception of prosecutors had flipped from the "good guys" to the "bad guys" in the space of a few e-mails, and it just seemed to get worse every day.

So, I started writing in a small attempt to push back against all of the negative attention we were getting.  It started slowly at first -- like dipping a toe in the water to see how cold it was.  I didn't want to announce whether or not I was a prosecutor or a defense attorney, because I didn't want to get fired for what I was writing (that worked out well in the end, let me tell ya!)

But how do you publicize your blog without blowing your super secret identity?

Simple -- you just casually mention it to the most talkative person you know and then wait thirty minutes. (Thanks, Alexis Gilbert Bruegger!) By the end of the day, word of an Anonymous blogger was all over the CJC.  It was both exciting and terrifying.

And then came Mark Bennett.

Mark had been running his blog Defending People for some time before I wandered into the blogging neighborhood.  I enjoyed his articles and reading them very much made me want to write, as well.  I had a feeling that once he got word that there was an anonymous blogger out there, he would engage.  I was correct about that.  Mark absolutely engaged the anonymous blogger.

And then he threw out an ultimatum:  tell me who you are privately, or I'll find out on my own and out you publicly.

Well, shit.  That backfired.

So, I gave Mark a dollar.  Told him he was now my attorney and confessed my secret identity.  True to his word, he kept it a secret until I got fired went public.  Over the past ten years, Mark's writing has gone on to be recognized on the national level for some of the great work he's put together.  I've kept my writing on local topics for the most part.  I've semi-jokingly said that my blog was The National Enquirer compared to his Wall Street Journal.  But I would be very very remiss if I didn't point out that this blog would have never existed if it weren't for Mark.

And, of course, Pat Lykos.

During the 2008 election, this blog went nuts with comments on the D.A. race.  In the aftermath, when people would ask me if I was surprised that Lykos fired me, I would always respond, "Not really. I mean, I did compare her to a Bud Lite Lizard."  Politics are such nasty things.

The biggest misconception that I think people have had about my outlook on the Lykos Administration was that I just missed the "Old Guard Ways" of the Holmes/Rosenthal days.  That seems to be the standard refrain from people who disagree with what I write.  They forget that Lykos was an extremely controversial judge who brought her self-aggrandizing and paranoid tendencies to the D.A.'s Office.   And man, those tendencies gave me so much material to work with.

I think that's why I'm so disappointed with the way that Kim Ogg has been running the Office lately.  Lykos took over like an enemy combatant and she wasn't wrong when she thought the rank and file disliked her.  Kim listened to Lykos too much when she took over, but she didn't need to.  The prosecutors didn't hate her like they hated Lykos.  At least, they didn't until she fired about 40 of their co-workers.

But I digress.

Over the years, this blog has had highs and lows.  The motivation to write has ebbed and flowed and the readers and commenters have done the same.  At times, I've thought of scrapping it because it served no real function anymore, only to have something come up that made me really motivated to write.  I've made some amazing friends through the blog and I've made some pretty angry enemies.  I hope that, on occasion, I've helped effect some positive changes here and there, but who knows?

In the end, I keep writing this blog for (more or less) the same reason that I started writing.  I think that the Criminal Justice World is the most fascinating aspect of American domestic life.  It is a convening of heroes and villains, tragedy and triumph, brilliance and profound stupidity, hilarity and bereavement.  I can't imagine being involved in any other profession.  Only those of us who practice within it (not just write about it from the outside looking in) can truly understand what it's like.

This blog just tries to show that to the outside world.  I know I may miss the mark on conveying that effectively more often than not.

But for the past ten years, it sure as hell has been fun trying.


Anonymous said...

You've done well. I want to take this opportunity to thank you for 10 years of missing puzzle pieces that helped me put our shared world in perspective. Hobbes

Retired Deputy Stephanie Solis said...

I loved working in her Court. She was the nicest person and treated us like family. She was down to earth and a beautiful person. RIP Judge Bacon. You will be greatly missed.

shg said...

You've mattered more than you, Murray. To me, to readers at FL (where you put in a great deal of effort to assure that your writing was brilliant, and it was) and to the locals at HCCJC. These tens years have been huge for you, with so many changes in your life and world. Thanks for all you've given.

Anonymous said...

I’ve enjoyed your blog. How about writing one on McSappen’s lette.

Anonymous said...

I haven't worked as a criminal lawyer for 8 years, but I still want to keep up with the goings on there. Thank you for giving me something to read that keeps me in touch with my former life, a life I can't seem to let go of.