Pride and Predjudice...

So the last few days have been a nice mix of festive and frustrating. Festive because the book is essentially done and gone, and frustrating because of a little encounter with another lawyer...

In the book I had a little story (I mean tiny) about a woman who went off on a judge. She was a decent lawyer and dedicated to her clients and I didn't really want to hurt her feelings or surprise her and so just because I was feeling all sweet, I called her to let her know what was up. Now let's be clear, the story I recounted was exactly as I'd heard it from several sources, I'd corroborated a part of it by getting the pertinent numbers and it was portrayed very sweetly in the book as something I not only understood, but in a certain sense, admired. Anyway, I had been thinking about changing her name just because I liked her but figured I'd call just to see whether she had really strong feelings about it...

Suffice to say she was far from thrilled and almost immediately started maneuvering. I've made a good life far from that whole thing, please don't dredge it back up was the most compelling argument. And listening to her talk about her life now, I was feeling bad and thinking well I guess I'll change it, and then she started to shift rhetorical gears and started in on a line that went something like this: I have connections, I know lots of lawyers, and what you heard is wrong. I have the transcript...

Well, say I, by all means, if you think it's wrong and you want me to correct it, just send me the transcript and of course, I'd be happy to change it. She refused (which might tell you something). Whatever. I hung up figured that on balance there was no need to make her so unhappy and so last night I went back and took her name and all her identifying details out of the book.

I then go to sleep thinking i've been sweet, and figuring I'll call her in the morning and tell her not to worry about it.

I never made that call.

Because before I could, my lawyer at the publishing house gets a call from some fancy media lawyer who is being all aggressive and trying to bully his way into taking the whole incident out. (And that's not gonna happen) But I've already taken her name and all the identifying details out of it and so now I'm peeved that she's trying to bully me and worse, that at the end of the day, something I did to be sweet, will come across as a victory for some hard blowing tall building lawyer with nary a leg to stand on.

The weird thing is that I felt nothing but kindness about the whole thing until she got a lawyer to be all pushy and entitled. I mean I'm not an idiot--filing some kind of suit would be the worst thing in the world for her--given that it'd make public and relevant all the personnel records, disciplinary hearings and other bad things that might exist concerning the incident . So why, I wonder, use the hammer when the supplicant's sweetness would have been so much more effective?

So now I'm sitting around trying to tame my pugilistic nature, and let the sweetness reign rather than give in to my vindictive inclination to put her name back in, along with the (clearly identified as such) rumors, the arrest number, the charges, and what happened to her afterwards. Hell, when you want to lay low why would you threaten? Especially when there's a record of an arrest and a transcript that you want to keep under wraps that has (thus far) never been circulated? I dunno. Just seems weird to me, and so self-defeating. Gosh.

So I think I'm still inclined to take the high road on this one but I have to admit it's a much tougher call now.

So readers, what would you do?

Ah, the best intentions gone awry.


Anonymous said...

Take the high road. Ignore that fact that a lawsuit would be great publicity (ask Al Frankin about the FOX lawsuit), and that it would be poetic justice to boot when her nastiness turns out to help you and hurt her. When you write poetry, that's a good time for poetic justice. The rest of the time, be content to take the high road and smile smugly as you think about what you could have done instead.

Anonymous said...

You could recount the story in your book exactly as you did here -- "I could have put her name in here, but I'm being nice, and I was going to do it before her big ole lawyer got involved. Lawyers are nasty people, you know."

She acts like someone who's just terrified, not malicious. I don't know; I think I agree with the other anonymous. Be the Big person ... after all, the story will be good with or without her name, right?

Good luck!

Windypundit said...

Take the high road, don't be vindictive about this. Your reasons for being nice to her haven't really changed. If you don't want to hurt her, then stick to your plan of leaving her name out.

One important point: Call her immediately and tell her what you're going to do.

You wonder why she'd threaten a lawsuit if she wants to lay low? I agree with Anonymous #2, she's just really scared. It sounds like she figures that if she does nothing, the secret will come out anyway. This way she gets to have some control of how it comes out.

She may even be planning to release the information herself, since that always looks better than having it come out in someone else's book. Isn't that what you'd do if the situation was reversed? Since you're not going to use her name, everybody would be happier if you head that off.

Call her and tell her what you're doing and why. Yell at her about the media lawyer if you want to, but tell her not to worry about your book. Don't make enemies when you don't need to.

And let us know how it turns out.