For the Defense - Vol. 5, Issue 4 - 24

IF THE PANDEMIC WAS A NETFLIX
SPECIAL, WHO WOULD I BE?
Lauren Wimmer

A

s a young attorney, I call on those who have been
in practice far longer than I have for guidance.
This pandemic is an experience no practitioner
has encountered-and yes, I deem this strange and
peculiar anxiety-heightened COVID-19 era in which we
now live " an experience. " I couldn't post to the PACDL
listserv and ask: " Where do I turn now? " Instead, I was
left to my own devices to figure out how to manage
client expectations and explain to family members that
their loved one's Constitutional right to a speedy trial
had been ripped out from under them without remedy.
I thought those charged with criminal offenses were
cloaked in the presumption of innocence and had a
fundamental right to prompt resolution of their open
matters. " Ha, " laughed the pandemic in response. As if
criminal defendants didn't get the brunt end as is.
I wrote to a client on what was soon to be his 999th
day of incarceration in the Philadelphia Prison System
to advise him that his trial would not be going forward
as planned and a third continuance of the trial date
would be granted, this one through no fault of his or
24

For The Defense l Vol. 5, Issue 4

mine. I went home to watch The Lorax with my kids
for the third consecutive day and the message of the
famed story never rang truer. " Unless someone like you
cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better.
It's not. " If the pandemic was a Netflix special, what
character would I be and what character would I want
to be. The recluse, the germaphobe, the zealot, or the
eternal optimist?
I dare to admit that I found the beginning of the
pandemic to be comforting. Naturally a homebody,
I got to spend more time snuggling with my children
and my husband was magically home for dinner. As the
months passed and letters started to pile from clients
asking why their trial was being moved and to when,
I realized that life in the courthouse was not returning
to normalcy any time soon. My incarcerated clients had
no way to grasp how the criminal justice system was
changing other than through the occasional phone
call which I may or may not have been in the office to
receive. I became consumed with feelings of helplessness
and frustration. Black Lives Matter and criminal justice



For the Defense - Vol. 5, Issue 4

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of For the Defense - Vol. 5, Issue 4

Contents
For the Defense - Vol. 5, Issue 4 - 1
For the Defense - Vol. 5, Issue 4 - 2
For the Defense - Vol. 5, Issue 4 - Contents
For the Defense - Vol. 5, Issue 4 - 4
For the Defense - Vol. 5, Issue 4 - 5
For the Defense - Vol. 5, Issue 4 - 6
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