I am honored that Jake Ehrlich III would invite me to write a quarterly column for the Never Plead Guilty Blog.
Why? Because his grandfather, the Master, Jake Ehrlich, was the person who started me thinking of becoming a lawyer. Let me set the scene.
I was a senior in high school attending Marmion Military Academy in Aurora, Illinois, just out side of Chicago. I had my heart set on becoming a sea captain and was ready to enter the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy at Kings Point.
I was on guard duty, which was exciting because that meant I could lawfully skip some of my classes. Somehow, I came across Jake Ehrlich’s book, Never Plead Guilty. I started to read it and couldn’t put it down. I was hooked!
Good-bye to the Merchant Marine Academy and hello to college, the liberal arts and onto law school. After reading The Lost Art of Cross-Examination by Jake Ehrlich, I knew it was the life of a lawyer for me.
It was these books that lead me to other books by San Francisco lawyers, including a series of books, Criminal Law Seminar, by Nathan Cohn.
It was Jake that also made me think of coming to San Francisco. I have never regretted that decision either.
My San Francisco office is housed in the historic and very beautiful Stock Exchange Tower at 155 Sansome Street in the heart of the old financial district. On my walk to my office I feel the spirit of those that made San Francisco. I still feel the buzz of commerce, the gamblers from the gold fields, the Big Four, Black Bart, Emperor Norton and yes, the Master, Jake Ehrlich. Who would not be energized coming down the street from Nob Hill into the canyons of the financial district?
As I sit in my office chair behind my desk I can easily recall memories of cases and people I have come across in the practice of criminal law. Hung on the walls, or set about the office, I see all significant objects, mementoes and pictures of my practice and my life. I believe memories should be seen and not put away in the attic. There is also a touch of the opulent for added drama, red walls with grand damask curtains and gilded chairs. I refer to my decorative style as “eclectic opulence.”
One object hanging on my wall is of special interest with regard to Jake Ehrlich. It was given to me by his grandson as a memento of how Jake has influenced my life. This object was originally given to Jake Ehrlich many years ago by the warden of San Quentin Prison as a present to Jake for his work in the criminal justice system. It is the lock and key to the front prison gate. A gate that never had to be opened for any of Jake’s clients!
I hope to hear from all of our readers as well on what they think Jake might make of the changes today in our society and our little sanctum of San Francisco.
Until next time,
All the Best,
James Farragher Campbell