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Experience is the answer

Addict, convict, lawyer.  Those three words define who I have been, in that order.

My addiction began with cigarettes at the age of 7 and ended with shooting cocaine and morphine at the age of 20. In between, I abused cough medicine, gasoline, chemicals, pills and marijuana.  And,  of course, alcohol. Lots of alcohol, including what we called electrified wine. By the end of my drug run the veins in my arms and feet had collapsed. I was a world-class junkie, and had hepatitis from a dirty needle to prove it.

My first documented encounter with the police was at the age of 7. Malicious destruction of property is how it is listed in my juvenile record. It took the police 5 more years before I was rearrested. I was 12 years old. My police run-ins continued until I went to prison, St. Cloud Reformatory for Men.  Before finishing out at St. Cloud, I had passed through Woodview Detention Home numerous times, Boys Totem Town twice, Lino Lakes Diagnostic and Reception Center, Red Wing State Training School for Boys and the St. Paul City Jail. By the time I went to St. Cloud to serve 5 years for burglary of a nightclub, it felt like old-home week. Of the five cell halls at St. Cloud, there wasn’t a cell hall in which I didn’t know a few inmates, including the segregation and isolation units. And it wasn’t long before I was able to track down some shoot-dope and an outfit. But it was in a prison cell-a taste of cold steel- where I finally found redemption, and the ability to conquer the demons that had nearly consumed and destroyed me.

During the past 35 years I have been a criminal defense attorney. However, before I became a member of the bar, I obtained an undergraduate degree in political science  and a law degree. I processed an application for, and obtained, a pardon.  I also completed group therapy and became a counselor and then group leader at Project Newgate.

My approach to addressing clients’ problems, whether as a counselor, group leader or attorney, has been to draw on personal experiences and insight earned the hard way, not from a book. This is also reflected in the posts on my blog.

Simply put, experience is the answer.

 

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