My good friend Melissa passed away yesterday.
I have known Melissa since the day I first came to work for the District Attorney's Office.
I've gone to trial against her. I've drank beer and wine with her. There may have even been a cigarette or two smoked with her, too, on occasion (but don't tell anybody).
She was that world-weary, sarcastic, and talented Defense Attorney who had a heart of gold. She could argue her case with a prosecutor in a way that made you feel like if you didn't agree with her position that you might just have lost your moral compass. She was smart, but not in the way that she ever tried to make you feel stupid.
And she sure as hell wasn't scared to go to trial. The second felony case I ever tried was against her. I won't tell you the details of it, but it was one of those serious cases that had a lot of those bizarre funny moments in it. (Let's just say that sometimes when you put a mannequin in front of a jury without a properly "wood-shedded" lay witness that crazy things can happen.)
We were still laughing and talking about that case as late as last week.
When I talk about how our little community of lawyers are a family, I can't think of a better example of that than Melissa Harper. We could fight like cats and dogs and argue like we couldn't stand each other in court, on occasion. And then chat with each other like life-long friends hours later.
To me, she was like a cool older sister. She gave me advice on everything, especially fashion tips (which I desperately needed). She was a friend to me and she was a friend to my family.
God, this hurts so bad.
My thoughts and prayers go out to every friend and family member of Melissa's -- whether biological, courthouse, or otherwise.
KJ, you are especially in our hearts and prayers. Please let the family at the CJC that loves you be there for you as much as you can tolerate us.
To Melissa, your absence in the hallways of the Criminal Justice Center will create a deafening silence.
We will miss you more than words can ever express.