Hamilton Herald Masthead


Front Page - Friday, February 27, 2015

Blizzard of 2015, part II

View from the Cheap Seats

William O. "Bill" James

Last week, I wrote about the lone snow storm of the year, and sort of bragged about how well I had prepared and accepted the time that my law office was forced to be closed on Monday. When I wrote it, I truly believed I meant what I was saying. Unfortunately, the feeling was short lived, and about 5 a.m. the next say, I was throwing a bit of a baby fit over the fact that the roads were completely iced over, and there would be no work done again at the James Law Firm. The feeling was made even more intense by the fact I was supposed to be leaving town at noon on Wednesday. That left me only one half day of work before I was scheduled to attend the Mid Winter Meeting of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.

I was very happy to go to work on Wednesday. I was so happy about being at work that I stayed there until well after closing time to try to get “caught up” before I left. That put Patti and I on the road to New Orleans at about 5:30 p.m. and us arriving somewhere around 1:30 in the morning. It was definitely a long ride. Truth be known, I would have forfeited the cost of the overpriced hotel room if I hadn’t been scheduled to present an hour on the Ethics of Cross Examination to the 400 in attendance.

I had to come back a day earlier than I wanted because the Weather Channel made it clear that the snow was coming back early Sunday afternoon. I needed to get back in town to meet with some clients on Sunday before the snow arrived because we were scheduled to start a two-day trial 30 miles down the road on Thursday. The snow was already falling when we broke our meeting somewhere around 3 p.m.

One day of snow turned into two and a half with no real activity at the firm until mid morning on Tuesday. By then, we had at least 10 court dates that had to be rescheduled, and the week was becoming unbearable. The pressure of the Thursday trial was starting to mount when I called the judge in South Arkansas and begged for mercy and a continuance. As it is with all great judges, he was wise in his decision and granted me the continuance because of additional winter weather that was reportedly heading our way. That gave me some breathing room.

As I write this column, my children aren’t scheduled to go to school tomorrow until at least 10 a.m. This isn’t because of what’s on the ground, but because no one knows how fast the storm is going to hit us tomorrow. I, however, will have to get up at 5 a.m. and head south to visit a potential client and try to get back before the storm hits. The parents of the potential client are not impressed with my excuses about the weather and my failure to see their child.

This morning, I went to work and remembered that I had a haircut scheduled at 10 a.m. I almost skipped it and used the snow and weather for an excuse. Then I remembered how irritated I was when people cancelled appointments for the same reason. As a small business owner, the cancellations make me crazy. As I got my haircut, I learned that I was the only person that made it in for their morning appointment. I was there when someone called and cancelled, and was impressed with the tone of her voice when she expressed concern about her client’s safety and telling them they could simply reschedule next week. Her voice hid what I was sure was real pain. Even if I was wrong, I felt the pain for her.

I don’t like winter. I do not like it, Sam I am. I wish for sun and flowers and warm weather. I hope this is the last storm that will attack my business and my family’s well being. I might be exaggerating, but those small business people in the CHEAP SEATS know exactly what I’m talking about.

Bill James is a criminal defense lawyer with offices in Little Rock, Conway, and Fayetteville Arks. He hates snow. He may be reached at Bill@JamesFirm.com.