Simple Justice: Through The Eyes of Scott Greenfield

It’s a beautiful Sunday morning as I tap the keyboard, thinking of seven posts that might be written at this moment.  Instead, I’ve decided to do something a bit different. My thinking is that it’s Sunday, a day when fewer readers stop by than any other day of the week, and it’s unlikely that I’ll get too many complaints.

As of yesterday, Simple Justice was number 4 on the list of Avvo top legal blogs .  Today, it dropped from 4th to 6th, out of the top five and off the big list.  I’ve no idea why, nor does it matter.  Simple Justice will be as significant, or insignificant, as my posts.  But the interesting thing about it is that each of the top five is made up of blawgs written by groups rather than an individual, except for Ann Althouse.  She’s obviously more interesting than I am, which is why she remains at number 3.  I kinda like being on the big list, and feel badly that I’ve fallen into the abyss, as if the list just told me that I used to be okay, but now I suck.  But I can’t argue with a list.

Simple Justice is something I do to amuse myself, an opportunity for one guy to write whatever strikes him as being worth writing at any given moment.  There are no rules about what I write.  It’s mostly commentary about legal news and decisions, but can stray far afield without notice.  I regularly hear from readers about how they prefer some types of posts more than others, urging me to limit my writing to posts that interest them.  Even more regularly, I’m told how a reader hates a post and demands that I lay off the subject upon pain of . . . something.

I don’t care.  This is my soapbox, for better or worse.  If you want to read what I write, great.  I appreciate it.  If not, well, that’s the way the cookie crumbles.

More significantly, at least to me, are the complaints that I write too much, or that I must spend every waking moment writing to churn out the amount of content that appears here every most mornings.  I’ve explained numerous times that it just doesn’t take me very long to do this.  I average about ten minutes a post, often interrupted with important things like refilling my coffee mug, talking to my kids or listening to Dr. SJ’s instructions on what I shouldn’t screw up that day. I get back to writing when I can.  Writing Simple Justice never interferes with life or practice. 

People don’t believe me.  As my buddy Mark Bennett says (and I hope I get his quote correct the first time, this time), I can explain it to you but I can’t understand it for you.  Despite my having explained the mechanics of doing this blawg, I’m often met with disbelief, and occasionally called a liar.  Some have even questioned whether there are elves in some backroom somewhere churning out content to be posted under my name.

Sorry.  No elves.  Not even a backroom.  It’s just me.  One guy and a keyboard. 

How is it possible?  I take a few shortcuts for the purpose of doing a blawg.  While I spellcheck after finishing a post, I don’t proofread, which is why my posts often contain stupid errors that should be easily cleaned up.  Many blawgers contend that it’s idiotic to not proofread their posts, as it gives the impression of carelessness in one’s work, which a potential client might extrapolate to indicate similar carelessness in writings for court. 

They’ve got a point, though it’s not the case for me.  My motions and briefs are an entirely different matter than this blawg, and they are proofed thoroughly.  This blawg isn’t a motion or brief, and more importantly, no one’s life hangs in the balance.  That said, I now have my editor, Marilou proofing my posts, and she’s been an angel.  I’m much happier knowing that stupid mistakes no longer abound. 

People demand (yes, demand) to know how it’s possible that I can do this.  They suggest that I must spend all day doing it, that I must have no law practice, that I steal my content from others, that it’s just not possible.  Look.  I’m sorry if it bothers you so much that you feel compelled to rationalize why I can do this and you can’t.  Bothering you isn’t my purpose.  But what am I to do?  Should I not write because you can’t keep up?  Heck, people complain to me that I put too many posts up a day, more than they have time to read.  So don’t read.

Even the brothers and sisters in the blawgosphere complain, that I get to stories before them and don’t leave anything for them to write about.  This is total nonsense. I leave posts on the table every day, for lack of time or just because I don’t want to get another smack for being too prolific.  I despise the word “prolific”, as it smacks of an all-you-can-eat buffet.  The food sucks, but there’s plenty of it.  Don’t blame me if you can’t think of anything to write about.  In fact, don’t blame me for anything.  I have nothing to do with your choices.  You’re on your own.

As Norm says, there’s certainly a large dose of ego gratification in blawging,  One feels good about others reading their words, especially when there is no reason for them to read at all.  Of course, the flip side is also true, as the internet consists of an angry mob waiting to pounce.  Write the wrong thing and they will descend like locusts, ripping your eyes out of their sockets without a thought.  Readers tell me that I’m an idiot.  Some want their time back, wasted on reading my posts.  I offer a full refund.  And some readers think they can hurt me by telling me that they won’t be back.  My take is they’re borderline (at best) psychotic narcissists.  Even if they aren’t, that’s how I choose to perceive them.

Having a blawg is partially about writing, but largely about herding feral nutjobs.  The first thing every nutjob buys is a computer with internet access, so that they can roam freely and make sure that no one on the internet is saying anything they disagree with.  When I started Simple Justice, I was unaware of this.  It’s since become the most time-consuming part of maintaining this blawg.  You, on the outside, have no clue what I put up with.  None.

I’m often critical of other bloggers, who want to be recognized as a law blogger but instead engage almost exclusively in navel gazing.  And here I’m writing only about myself.  Since the vast majority of my posts here are substantive, I’ve given myself permission to indulge.  And it’s Sunday, so I don’t anticipate inconveniencing anyone who has stopped by for something worthwhile to find only this drivel.

You may have noticed that I included my name in the title of this post.  It’s the first time I’ve ever done that.  The reason is that my name appears in plenty of posts, usually the ones critical of me or at least being overtly snarky.  I know, the snarky ones are meant as an homage, but sometimes they take my jokes too seriously and strike me as being unable to distinguish between the person and the persona.  It annoys me at times.

A couple of weeks ago, an email came in about how the writer had googled my name and found some insane, vile posts about me on the second page.  My psycho stalker is still working hard through the night trying to get his inane nonsense on the first page of google.  You haven’t made it as a blawger until you have a psycho stalker.  Psychos, by definition, don’t go away.  I assume that people who aren’t totally nuts realize that these attacks are the work of a psycho.  I could be wrong, but I have no plans on spending my time worrying about it.

By putting my name in the title of this post, it’s likely to appear on the first page of google.  It will push the insane posts down the list by one.  It would be really great if everyone did a nice post about me and used my name in the title, so that the insane posts could be pushed back to page 28.  I don’t expect anyone will think it worth their effort to do so, unfortunately.  Simple Justice may matter enough to read, but there’s little concern out there for the writer.  I’m more the hired (yet unpaid) help, as far as others are concerned.

Simple Justice is as meaningful, or meaningless, as you find it.  It’s just the thoughts of one person, cranked out while drinking my morning coffee.  Believe it or not.  Care or not.  There are posts that mean more to me than others, and sometimes I’m bothered by the posts that attract little attention because I believe they are pretty good, or sometimes pretty worthwhile.  You don’t?  Yeah, that bothers me.  I’m not above caring that others share my view of what matters.  At the same time, I can’t make you care.

If you’ve reached this point in the post, I thank you.  My bet is that few will.  My navel gazing likely won’t interest too many folks out there.  There’s little to commend the fabulous life of a blawger.  No great wealth.  Certainly no appreciation.  Complaints? You bet.  Attacks?  Daily.  Freeriding? Constantly.  Yet I continue to wake up every morning with a bunch of stuff I want to write about, sit down at the computer and just start to tap on the keys.

You never know what’s going to come out.  I never do.  Thanks for reading.

36 comments on “Simple Justice: Through The Eyes of Scott Greenfield

  1. CrimeCounsel

    Finally, a post about the man. This is what we’ve been waiting for.

    I don’t want to believe that you knock out these interesting and informative posts in 10 minutes. I don’t want to believe that such an expose of an American lawyer’s response to the system he works through on a daily basis takes such little thought.

    I don’t want to believe it because it is so damn good and I wish I could do the same for the British justice system.

    I don’t want to. But you’ve said it is so. And you are so damn persuasive I believe you.

    For once you request a nice post. And so here it is.

    If this comment had a title, it would be “thank you Scott Greenfield”.

  2. John Kindley

    Okay, I can believe THIS post took you less than 10 minutes to write ;)

    I wouldn’t worry too much about the Avvo rankings. How authoritative can it be when Gamso For the Defense doesn’t even make the top 437?

    I will happily post an entry on my blog today with your name in the title in furtherance of this project, and appreciate the suggestion as it provides some temporary relief from my daily struggle to find suitable blawg material. Maybe by doing so I might even earn brownie points towards my blawg’s ultimate and highest aspiration — to make it onto your blawgroll.

  3. Sojourner

    Scott I am so glad you are in the world and writing this blog. I am not surprised that your posts take as little time as they do – not because they aren’t extraordinary – for they are – but because it’s clear they spring nearly ‘whole’ (like Athena from Zeus’s forehead) from the mind, heart and soul of an exceptionally brilliant thinker who lives and breathes what he writes about. I am so grateful for Simple Justice, and for you. Wishing you and your family well always.

  4. Amy Alkon

    If you’ve reached this point in the post, I thank you. My bet is that few will.

    Don’t be so sure! I really enjoy your thinking on things. I don’t usually comment, since I’m The Advice Goddess, not the Legal Scholaress, but I appreciate what you do.

  5. ExPat ExLawyer

    Hi Scott:

    This is Laura from Cabo, now going by my blog name, for self-promotion.

    I assumed you had to be a fast writer to be so prolific given your obvious active practice. I’m about the world’s slowest writer. I think the end product is usually good, but it proves the adage “there’s no such thing as good writers, only good editors.”

    I will be doing a post with your name in it. I want to get more of my political readers to learn about the law and not just think constitutional rights are a matter of how they “feel” about something in the heat of the moment. I also think your anti-slakwahzee philosophy is appealing to the self-reliant loving readership.

    This particular post will appeal a lot to other bloggers regardless of genre.

    You are the #1 crim law blogger,and you and Volokh are my two favorites. If fellow Colo. blogger Jeralyn Merrit at Talk Left can be considered a blawger, then Radley Balko should too. I don’t read her often, but she has a similar percentage mix of legal and politics to my blog.

    Gamso is also on my blog roll and deserves to be in the top 10. I’m pretty sure I learned about him from you.

    Back later. Haven’t posted in three days and have a little post to get out that you would have gotten out three days ago. Blogging with the Memorial golf tournament on with the commentary in Argentinian-accented Spanish probably doesn’t help.

  6. SHG

    Hi Laura. Thanks for all, but you’ll never get anything done with the golf tournament on. 

  7. SHG

    Thanks, Amy, but please comment whenever the mood strikes.  Trust me, not too many legal scholars around here. 

  8. ExPat ExLawyer

    You’re right as usual, Scott. This is especially true when a cute, young golfer is in the hunt (Rickey Fowler), and wearing a jailhouse orange outfit. And I mean the whole outfit. Pants and shirt are solid orange, and so are the golf shoes.

    I hope he changes before leaving the country club.

  9. SHG

    Seriously? This could set golfing back a generation.  Knickers are beginning to sound tasteful.

  10. Anna

    Scott Greenfield, your blawg deserves to be on TOP. It is always thoughtful and you understand the heart and soul of real criminal defense lawyers.

  11. Catherine Mulcahey

    Of course we all love you. Even those who love to hate you have to be grateful that you don’t back down. You didn’t need to ask, unless you really wanted all this fawning.

  12. SHG

    I don’t want the fawning, and I’m really uncomfortable about it.  I don’t want to be unappreciative of the kind words, but that wasn’t my point here.  Nor, frankly, was it to elicit posts from others with my name in the title (of which there have been a few).  This tells me that I did a truly awful job on this post, as it’s been so widely (universally?) misunderstood. 

    One of the big ironies, maybe the biggest, is that people make way too much of all this blawging stuff.  It’s not that important. I’m certainly not that important.  It’s taken far too seriously.  If I disappeared tomorrow, nobody would care, and nobody should.  It just doesn’t matter that much.

  13. Jeff Gamso

    I know it wasn’t your point. But sometimes you get what you deserve even if you don’t want it. In this case, you provided the opportunity. Don’t much like it? Tough. Suck it up.

    People (except for the insane folks) don’t read what you write and keep coming back for more if they don’t think you’re providing something of value. And yes, that means that people would care if you stopped tomorrow.

    It wouldn’t be the end of the world. We’d go on just fine. But we’d miss the daily dose(s).

    I meant what I wrote. Thoughtful, smart, snarky, sometimes wrong.

    I said you’re a model. That’s true, too. (Not the only one – which I also said – but a model.) It’s not that I want to be or try to be like you. Good god no. But that you teach that it’s possible to do this sort of thing thoughtfully, regularly, and without (I gather and take your word for it) sacrificing your family or your practice. No small things.

    Oh, and you also provided some of the evidence that it was possible to do this as an exercise in something more than either pure solipsism or omphaloskepsis.

    So, if it makes you feel better, take some of the blame for what some of the rest of us are doing out here.

    Do we matter? Sure, in a small way. We write because, for whatever reasons, we want to. We try to say things that are worth hearing and some people, at least (thank you John and Laura for your kind words about me), think some of us do. You’re one of the ones who show that it can be done.

    Like I say, live with it.

  14. SHG

    1. It wouldn’t be the end of the world. We’d go on just fine.
    2.Thoughtful, smart, snarky, sometimes wrong.
    3.Not the only one – which I also said – but a model.
    4. It’s not that I want to be or try to be like you. Good god no.

    I didn’t ask for your praise, but then you felt it necessary to include (or reiterate) four separate put downs as well?  I wonder what that’s all about.

  15. Jeff Gamso

    Only one that comes close to a put down is that it wouldn’t be the end of the world. And it wouldn’t. We’d continue. With a bit of a loss, but sorry, it wouldn’t be like losing a child.

    Thoughtful, smart, snarky, sometimes wrong. Sure. Two compliments, one descriptive of your sometimes tone, and an acknowledgment that you’re human and, therefore, sometimes wrong – by which I mean that we don’t always agree. Hardly a put down.

    Let’s see – there are other valuable blawgers, too. Yep. If you’re offended, you shouldn’t be. You praise them, too. You’re really good. You’re not sui generis.

    I don’t want to be like anyone. That line probably wasn’t well put, but “I gotta be me” or “I’ll do it My Way,” both seemed over the top.

  16. SHG

    I don’t question the validity of your criticism.  Just its gratuitous nature in these comments.

  17. Ed.

    SHG replied: “I don’t want to be unappreciative of the kind words, but that wasn’t my point here. Nor, frankly, was it to elicit posts from others with my name in the title (of which there have been a few). This tells me that I did a truly awful job on this post, as it’s been so widely (universally?) misunderstood.”

    Obviously, I misunderstood you when you wrote: “It would be really great if everyone did a nice post about me and used my name in the title, so that the insane posts could be pushed back to page 28. I don’t expect anyone will think it worth their effort to do so, unfortunately.”

    Like I said, Scott Greenfield, Not Perfect.

  18. SHG

    I didn’t expect anyone would.  Had I realized, I would have been more circumspect.  Not perfect indeed, Ed.  Not even close.

  19. anon

    You are being disingenuous. Your “complements” are backhanded. Without Scott promoting you, chances are that many of us would never have seen your blog. This is how you repay his kindness to you?

  20. Jeff Gamso

    Incompetent in expressing what I mean, perhaps. Disingenuous, no.

    I think Scott’s blog is terrific. I am grateful (very grateful) for the support he has shown my efforts. I think he is a major asset to the blogosphere.

    I hope Scott knows I think that. I hope others do.

    I seem not to be able to articulate that in a convincing way – at least if the encomium doesn’t stand altogether alone. That’s a failure of my prose, not of my respect or admiration or gratitude.

  21. Catherine Mulcahey

    Most of my daily reading is limited to opinions, statutes, rules, regs, blawgs and blogs about mortgage foreclosures because I represent people who are in danger of losing their homes. That reading uses up a couple of hours a day, and sometimes a whole lot more.

    I also spend a small amount of time most days reading about criminal law and first amendment issues. I do that out of a sense that those are matters that affect us all. SJ is in that part of my daily reading because I like it. I learn a lot, which I happen to enjoy. The typos are tolerable and the quantity is amazing.

    This is not to say that I agree with you on everything. Sometimes I wonder at your tendency to see teacups lurking everywhere. On the other hand, on those few occasions when I run into teacups, they’re working for the big bad law firms that represent the big bad banks, so I rejoice in their presence.

    I keep reading because I never know what’s going to come next. Thanks for writing.

  22. SHG

    I would find it unfathomable if someone agreed with me about everything.  My subjects of interest are varied, and I stray quite a bit from the orthodox position on many of them.  Many people get angry with me, since I’m a criminal defense lawyer and presumed to be quite the liberal, when they find that I’m not particularly liberal (or libertarian, for that matter) in my politics. I’m a traitor to their cause, it seems.

    As for teacups, it’s a pervasive problem, and I call it as I see it.  That others don’t see it as clearly doesn’t bother me at all, but I have no plans of changing my tune so that I can be part of the chorus.

  23. SHG

    I don’t doubt your sincerity, encomium or not.  And lest anyone get the wrong impression, Gamso does some excellent work, on top of some excellent blawging, and has shown the modesty that becomes a great lawyer.

  24. Jeff

    Thanks for the post. I like your blog because it feels honest and this post is a perfect example of that honesty. This felt like a peek behind the curtain. I learn a little bit from your writing and it also gets me excited about law. Thank you for the posts and know that it is something I look forward to reading every day.

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