I went to a kind of memorial party that was thrown in Judge Aguilar's honor last night at Matt's El Rancho. It was a really nice event. Ray Esperson got up and said some really nice things about the judge, and then one of the judge's sons got up and spoke a bit as well. I thought the judge's son said some really great things. He spoke about how the judge had gone through some really hard, low times in his life (in particular while struggling with alcohol problems), and that his friends from the courthouse had helped support the judge as he fought through those problems. He also said that the judge had learned things during some of these struggles that he had shared with his son in order to help his son through some of his own serious problems, so now he believed that even his father's dark times had occurred for a purpose and had meaning.
He really did his dad proud.
It was also one of those nights that just sort of reminded me how closely knit our Travis County courthouse can be. There's something about practicing law, I'm convinced, especially in the friendly but contentious atmosphere of the Travis County criminal courts, that really makes people get to know one another and understand each other a bit. I looked around the crowded room and I just saw a whole lot of big personalities (there are all kinds of personalities at the courthouse, but given the sort of extroverted nature of attorneys, it just feels like the volume is turned up a bit on our interactions).
Anyway, it really does feel like a big, crazy family on one level (I guess because even when we aren't particularly thrilled with each other, we all know that we need to find a way to live with each other). When a person who really feels like part of the community goes away, it really does resonate. There's definitely a certan oral history of the courthouse, and even as we remembered Judge Aguilar other lawyers were mentioned who have passed on, but who are stilled talked about in stories and anecdotes retold at the courthouse (Thad Son jumps to mind).
So we'll all miss Judge Aguilar. He was a nice guy, an entertaining, interesting guy to talk to, and a good lawyer who did good work representing his clients (as an advocate, litigator, and in terms of listening and giving advice). He'll be missed.
Changing the topic, I know I rarely talk about the day to day specifics of my job on here, but on Wednesday I went to a mental health seminar that was pretty interesting. The program was designed by a woman who had, I believe, some sort of graduate degree in psychology, but who also had schizophrenia. The seminar was about understanding and empathizing with symptomology, and it was pretty interesting. Part of the program involved all of the participants (like me) wearing walkman type CD players (with headphones) and listening to voices which were meant to mimic the internal voices that many people with schizophrenia hear as part of their day to day life. When I first started the exercise and heard the voices, I thought that they were sort of vaguely troubling, but not that big of a deal because I thought that I could more or less ignore them. The exercise, however, had us also performing simulated, day to day sorts of tasks (going to a doctor's appointment, answering questions about an article we had read, etc.), and it quickly became clear to me that even fairly simple tasks were becoming much more difficult to complete with the voices speaking to me. My focus, concentration, and ability to recall things went right out the window.
Anyway, it was a really interesting experience which shed a bit of light upon some of the activities of defendants (including their interactions with police officers and other members of the community) that I end up hearing about on my caseload. And, of course, as distracting as the voices were on our headphones, they probably pale in comparison to the effects of true schizophrenia, where delusions sometimes come into play and where people here these voices fairly constantly for years and years.
It was a good seminar.
Also, I guess electric guitar innovator and musician Les Paul died Wednesday at the age of 94. Les Paul was not only a widely respected guitarist, but he created things which are considered music industry standards today- like innovations that led to multi-track recording and some of the modern versions of solid body electric guitars. In addition to all of that, he always seemed like a really nice guy when I saw him on interviews. He was still playing guitar and performing music publicly into his 90s.
So via con dios to a guy who gave a lot of joy to music lovers. He's something of a legend.
I don't have a whole lot else. Looking forward to the weekend. Hope you guys are doing well.