This is the first entry of a journal chronicling my six weeks as a judicial extern in Portland this summer. Don’t expect fireworks, people. I am fully aware that this is not going to be groundbreaking stuff, but maybe I can manage to dissuade some hapless 1L who believes that you are a mini-lawyer as an extern.
In pure Klimczak fashion, I manage to make a blunder as soon as I enter the building. I was told to come to the courthouse at 8am (rude awakening as I am staying a hour outside of Portland with traffic), so I could fill out paperwork to get my badge. I arrive downtown at 7:55am and go through the line with the “normal people” (not employees or attorneys) where the man in front of me was muttering about the “germ laden doors to hell” and refusing to touch the door causing it to slam into me. I am overdressed (as usual) and struggling with my Cole Haans. Having the disease-enriched hell doors slam into my ankles puts me in a mood. I get up to the metal detector, remove my shoes, and walk through.
Immediately there is a loud beep. It’s my watch. When I take it off and hand it to the security woman, she takes this opportunity to size me up and snort, “nice watch.” Before I can fashion some sort of witty response, another security officer ushers me away, claiming he found a knife in my bag. What!? I had no clue what he was talking about, especially as he made it sound like they found a switchblade caked in blood. Four security guards then confronted me. One by one, they moved aside to allow the man holding my contraband to come forward. In his rubber-gloved hand, the security officer held…a butter knife. Probably from a Court Café bagel I ate last year.
Rubber Gloves lectured me in front of everyone in the lobby, which was made only more humiliating by the accompanying snickers of the officer who thought me a snob due to my offensively expensive watch. Rubber Gloves dangled my IKEA butter knife as if it was the murder weapon in a high-profile case and declared that I had to take it outside and get rid of it, or he could “dispose of it” himself. After struggling once with my shoes and having made it through the germ laden doors to hell, I didn’t want to brave the general public entrance line, so I told him to throw it away. His eyes widened and went blank as he pressed “play” on the tape recorder in his head to give his spiel in this type of top-level-priority situation: “Ma’am, you understand that by telling me to dispose of this knife, you will not receive it back in your possession and the weapon will be destroyed?” Umm… dude, it’s only a butter knife.
After the fiasco of my overblown potential-courtroom-terrorist activity, I walked upstairs to check in. I was given a two-page explanation of statutes that forbid anyone with a badge to carry a knife into the courthouse. I don’t know if it was just my emotions running high, but all I could think was that the Rubber Gloves and the Watch Witch had made a call on the Batphone to my supervisor the second I waddled away from the security station struggling to clasp my overpriced shoes and refusing to touch any germ laden railing to balance myself.