Thursday, September 27, 2007

Sept 25, 2007

Dear Sis~
I'm sitting on my bunk watching Ken Burns' PBS documentary called The War, a 10-hour film essay on World War II (from America's perspective, anyway). It's particularly interesting to watch the parts illustrating those battles which Dad fought in. As you know, Dad was in the 82nd Airborne even prior to Pearl Harbor and he jumped and fought at all of the 82nd Airborne's major (and minor) battles, from North Africa to Sicily to Italy to Normandy, to Holland where he lost his leg. These old black and white newsreels often show paratroopers streaming out of their transports, or huddled on their planes prior to jumping, and I often look at those pictures wondering if Dad was in that crowd. Anyway, this is an excellent documentary (as you'd expect from Ken Burns), very sobering and devoid of your typical rah-rah, flag-waving jingoism. It reminds you of the one undeniable truth: War is Hell.
Light & Love,

Sept 25, 2007

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Sept 12, 2007

Dear Sis~
I just received my typed-up draft cert petition, so now I've switched back into legal-beagle mode, diving back into my case to hammer out a revised/edited version. Right off the bat, I've got to chop about 7 pages out (this typed draft came to 42 pages, but the limit is 35). Over and above that, I've got to decide on substantive changes regarding the merits of my issues. Editing at this stage is tough; your natural instinct is to preserve every word, sentence and paragraph as you strive to present your most persuasive arguments - there is no such thing as too much persuasion! But, actually, there is. It's just like editing a novel or short story; the quality of your arguments improve as you winnow out all the redundant words and overly-loquacious reasoning. To obtain that narrow, laser beam-like focus you must cut, cut, cut without regret! Anyway, I've got my work cut out for me for the next week or so.

The other day I was reading the Florida Supreme Court's December 8, 2006 decision in Diaz v. State, a capital case. Diaz was, at the time, under an active death warrant, scheduled to die on December 13, 2006, so this was his final, last-ditch appeal. One of his primary arguments was a challenge to Florida's lethal injection process and his lawyers presented very good arguments supported by a lot of evidence. The Florida Supreme Court rejected all of his claims, essentially saying that Diaz's concerns and fears about how his execution could go horrible wrong were just speculative and unfounded. Well, Diaz was put to death the following week in the now infamous "botched execution" where all the things his lawyers predicted could go wrong came true. It was sort of Kafkaesque reading the Court's opinion, already knowing how the execution ultimately turned out, as the Justices ridiculed Diaz's predictions about how very wrong the process could become, resulting in his very slow, very painful death...

Alright, Sis, I've gotta get back to work. Don't forget to send me a pic of your new dog!

Saturday, September 01, 2007

August 29, 2007

Dear Sis~
Just a note to inform you that I finally completed the draft of my cert petition & mailed it off by Priority Mail last night. It's a big relief to get that behind me (although there will be follow-up revisions & editing. But the heavy lifting is done). I'm really exhausted from the last six weeks of work, a surprising amount of mental exhaustion due to the time constraint pressures and having to digest & analyze hundreds of pages of US Supreme Court decisions (often spending hours pouring over 40, 50 pages just to glean a few sentences or a paragraph to plug into the cert petition at a particular spot). My final draft was 57 hand-written pages, which normally converts to about 42, 43 typed pages. However, the limit is 35 pages, so we've got a lot of cutting to do. My deadline for filing is Oct 12th, which leaves us 44 days from today.

Anyway, Sis, I've gotta rest my writing hand for about 48 hours (this is common after I've written an appellate brief or cert petition or a really long motion or petition). My hand, after the 7th or 8th day gets like a claw! Sometimes it goes numb, the whole forearm and elbow (like tennis elbow), at which point I have to take a 24 hour break before resuming. I'd give just about anything for a typewriter or word processor. I'll write again after Labor Day!
Love, Bill