October 13, 2020 Feature

My First Big Case

It took years before I realized that this case made me a much better lawyer and person.

Kenneth P. Nolan

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It was on Facebook that I learned Murph had died. Even though he was not doing great—lousy circulation cost a leg—it was that rotten coronavirus that ended Jimmy Murphy’s wonderful life. In his mid-70s, he had some of those “underlying issues,” which is the polite way to say: Don’t be surprised he died.

Yet, I was sad and angry when I read the post. Sad because I hate to see good people die even though I was taught heaven is just a fabulous, glorious place. Angry because I had intended for months to drive down to Jersey to sit with Jimmy and Mary to talk about family, friends, and growing up in Holy Name parish. But I never did. I never sat on their couch and lamented how gentrifiers ruined our neighborhood, how you don’t know anyone when you once knew everyone, and wasn’t it so much better when we didn’t have a nickel and slept three, four, five to a room. Before they eagerly moved to the suburbs after I settled Jimmy’s case for $1 million in the early 1980s.

I also wanted to thank them for what they taught me those many years ago—integrity, humility, commitment. They wouldn’t hear of it, of course, and wouldn’t have believed a word, but I wanted to tell them anyway for it took years, a lot of them actually, before I realized that this case made me a much better lawyer and person.

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