John Gomez Trials On The Road

Trial work can be very tough on the trial lawyer. As I mentioned in a recent blog about trying my 50th case to jury, trials can punish you both physically emotionally. Both before and after the 8 hours spent in court comes preparation for the next day. It is not uncommon for me to log 16 hour work days when in trial. I miss out on fitness, friends and family. Not to mention sleep and clean eating.

I have tried many cases “on the road” in many places. I spent a whole Summer in Indianapolis once in trial. I grew to really like it there. I otherwise have tried cases in places like Indio, Pomona, Riverside, three different courts in Los Angeles. Most of my trials are long. I have spent at least six months of my life, for example, at the Omni Hotel in Downtown Los Angeles. I’m now on the road trying a case in Bakersfield. I’m writing this blog on a Saturday from my room at the Padre Hotel.

We have tried enough cases on the road that we now have a routine. First and foremost is establishing a “home base.” While we have rented homes in the past, trial’s unpredictability favors hotels. I was set to try a very high profile case in Los Angeles involving a runaway Lexus vehicle that killed a CHP Officer and his family, for example. We anticipated a long trial. I wanted a cool and creative place and so we pre-paid 6 weeks rent for a super cool home in the Hollywood Hills. This place was so deluxe that “Dr. House” (the doctor on tv) was our next door neighbor. Of course, the case settled, we were out of pocket, and the super cool house largely sat empty.

So we find a hotel. We prefer it be within walking distance to court. The hotel must have the capacity for a “war room.” We send an advance team up to set up computers, printers, work stations, the file and office supplies. We have learned that having a good printer/copier is key. It’s always the simple things that make a difference. This time, we are fortunate enough to be working with some Bakersfield lawyers, the Faulkner Law Firm, that have room for us. And so, we set up a war room with them. It’s only about a ten minute walk to court and so that’s a perfect set up.

Every trial settles into a routine. Our first week, we would typically come home from court, work until about 7, and then go to dinner as a group. Matt Faulkner, our friend and host, has taken us to just about every great restaurant in town so far. For me, I like some dinner, a little wine, and to be asleep by 9 or so. I then wake up around 3:30, do my “Hour of Power” and then get to work. My best and most creative work happens during those quiet and still morning hours before work.

We get Fridays off, but are staying in Bakersfield this weekend to get a jump on the week ahead. The pace of work isn’t nearly as demanding during off days and so we have begun exploring the city a little bit. I have found a health food store, a yoga studio and a gym and have made use of them all. Jessica Sizemore, trying the case with me, has her fiancé up for the weekend. They enjoyed Bakersfield’s “First Friday” last night and are hitting a local café for breakfast today. Tonight we get to have dinner at Matt’s house which should be fun.

I am especially excited for tomorrow, Sunday. Matt’s paralegal, Dana, is a woman of faith. I know because she talks about her church and prayer meetings. And so, I asked her whether I could come to church with her. Her eyes lit up and she smiled so big. She is so excited to host me. She told me that her church is “Pure Baptist” and the oldest and biggest black Baptist church in town. She said that she would be waiting for me at the front door. I said that I didn’t really bring any nice clothes and only had sweats. She reminded me that I had been wearing a suit to court every day. Okay. Suit it is. She said that she always sits in the front and asked if I minded. Of course not, I told her. I am excited to share fellowship with her and her community.

Like I said, trial can be brutal. Trying cases out a hotel room can be especially so. I think the key, like everything, is to maintain some perspective. Once the heavy lifting of trial is over, I like to explore the cities I am in and enjoy the people a bit. I relish and enjoy time alone to work productively, and to do what I came to do: Give my client the very best chance for justice they can possibly have. Like the University of Alabama football team on the road, way more times than not, we come home with the win. I gotta say. I love Bakersfield. I love my clients. And I am excited to come home with the “w.” Thanks for reading my story.