Of Professionals and Professionalism
Posted on Dec 15, 2009 12:00am PST
I was contacted by an old client of mine last week with an odd request. His ex-girlfriend who he had a child with was missing along with the child. (This familial relationship is what has become known and recognized by Wisconsin's Court of Appeals as a "baby-mama" type of situation). See, State v. Harris, 763 N.W. 2nd 560 (2009).
It was unusual for the couple to fail to communicate two to three times daily. On Saturday night, she explained that she'd be taking the child to a party in Santa Fe and would be back that same night. She left and was not heard from for a day and a half. She was not answering her cell phone. Nobody my client knew knew where she was, including her family and workmates. My client was nervous and extremely worried.
I decided that it'd be best to get the authorities involved immediately. I made contact with Bernalillo County Sheriff's Deputy Nunez who agreed to meet me and my client at her house. It was a dark, cold night, and he arrived promptly. He approached my vehicle and I noticed he was a pretty big guy and appeared to be in shape. If he had to reach for his pistol, he clearly would not have needed to lift cascading lumps of fat with his left hand in order to dig out his pistol from his right hip holster with his right hand. I knew if something happened to any of us, he'd most likely be able to help --a comforting feeling.
Then, he talked to me using words like "Sir" and quickly commenced asking the pointed questions I expected him to ask. Then, he went door to door talking with all of the neighbors that knew her. After gathering all the information he could, he agreed to visually inspect her mobile home. I watched him walk around the premises tapping on the windows and calling out for her. He also put his ears to the windows to listen to any possible sounds.
He then agreed to make a report and stay in contact with me concerning the "missing person" report he'd be filing. I proceeded to ask that he knock down the door to ensure that the two weren't inside. At the time I did so, I knew that such an entry would most likely not be lawful under the circumstances. The Deputy was on to me. He quickly told me, "you know I can't do that. You know it wouldn't be lawful." He told me he didn't believe the matter had reached an emergency-type situation yet, but that he'd monitor it and follow up accordingly. I believed him.
The next day my client called to tell me that his ex and baby returned. It turned out that the party wasn't in Santa Fe, but near Santa Fe, up the canyon. It snowed that night and she had no cell phone service there. The snow made it too dangerous for her to drive home, and she therefore waited it out. Her cell phone died. Her and her son were fine.
The whole ordeal made me reflect on professionals and professionalism. I really appreciated working with someone good at what they do. From beginning to end, the deputy was right on time. He showed up prepared for work, he did the right things, said the right things, asked the right questions, and, most importantly, put nothing off 'til tomorrow. That's to be respected and more importantly, appreciated.