Commentary on The Good Old Days

Empty Newsroom

In her Sunday, April 30, N.Y. Times article, Maureen Dowd perfectly captured the sad fact that newsrooms will never be good again. Since the pandemic, reporters largely work from home.

Sadly, the same thing is true about practicing criminal law in Indianapolis. This will be my 50th year doing battle in court and the interaction with lawyers and court staff has all but disappeared.

For example, if I had a case in one of the courts on the 6th floor of the City-County Building, I would stop in multiple courts on the way out of the building to chat with fellow lawyers, Judges and court employees. Access was easy and it was fun given that most of them had a smile on their faces.

In addition, I ate in the City Market several times each week. There was always a seat available where various judges and lawyers could laugh as we poked fun at each other.

Finally, there were several small bars surrounding the City-County Building where we would meet a couple of times a week rehashing the day’s events while downing several “short ones”.

I became a better lawyer and person because of those events. However, the reality is that “those days are gone, my friends, that I thought would never end”.

While the pandemic changed everything, putting the new courthouse and jail off Southeastern on Indy’s southeast side was the nail in the social coffin. Not only are you denied access to court offices but there are no eating establishments nearby. And there isn’t time to talk about the toxic landscape of that entire area.

Adding to the torment is the fact that court rooms change on a daily basis. Sitting in court waiting for a judge, staff and a deputy prosecutor to enter, you are denied getting questions answered. It is frustrating beyond words.

The reality is that social interaction is all but dead. You leave the building feeling like you are a visitor from another planet. It does not help if it is raining and you are forced to hunt down your car in a gigantic open air parking lot that resembles an airport experience.

The good old days, where the experience was far better, is gone and buried. I blame the Mayor, who didn’t seem to care. It was the same as noted by Ms. Dowd, “Newsrooms were a crackling gaggle of gossip, jokes, anxiety and oddball hilarious characters”.

Now we sit in our office alone staring at our computers and sending multiple texts. Forget leaving a phone message as few are returned.

Thankfully, those like my former intern, who just started as a public defender, are not haunted by the good old days. Good for them.

But as for me, I am left nearing the end of a great movie as I prepare to ride off into the sunset. Great memories will help heal a broken heart.