I met with a client at the legal aid foundation for the first time today. I'm excited, because I have more responsibilities now as a law student than I did when I volunteered as an undergrad. I met with the attorney beforehand and then helped her communicate with the client. We told her we'd meet her tomorrow. She seemed apprehensive about where she was supposed to be and I gave her my cellphone number in case she couldn't find us. After she left, Grace, my supervisor, told me she used to do that all the time when she first started and then she learned not to. Obvious newb mistake.
I took home the case file and read it while at the gym. Is it sad that the story doesn't seem horrifying to me? In legal terms, it's domestic abuse. Yet, I've heard it before and I know it happens with alarming frequency within Vietnamese households. Part of me was relieved because her report doesn't seem to scream brutality. The other part of me wonders if maybe there was something wrong in my inability to appreciate what the court calls "abuse" and "intolerable cruelty." I can't fully articulate what I mean by this yet, but it's great that she had the means to leave him. I'm glad that I live somewhere where these kinds of domestic disturbances are not tolerated.
The report mentioned that a Vietnamese police officer was sent to her so she can communicate her story more fully. I smiled at that last part, because I remember arguing with friends and acquaintances over the merits of being a multilingual society. No one is going to dispute that English is the easiest and most efficient way to communicate in the U.S., but I just can't get behind denying people, like this woman, legal protection because of their language restrictions. I'm glad that police officer was able to help her and I'm glad I'll be there at her hearing tomorrow.
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