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Taking Alabama v. Shelton to Heart
By Cait Clarke
I recently picked up the popular
self-help book, Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff…and It’s All Small Stuff by
Dr. Richard Carlson, commonsense ideas for finding balance in daily life that
initially threw me off-kilter. In the book’s 100 numbered nuggets of self-help
wisdom, number seventeen stood out as a bothersome notion: Surrender to the
Fact that Life Isn’t Fair.1
I found this objectionable because I
believe that as community members we are obliged to work towards fairness in
our daily interactions, especially in our professional lives. Fortunately, Dr.
Carlson agrees when he writes: “The fact that life isn’t fair doesn’t mean we
shouldn’t do everything in our power to improve our own lives or the world as a
Applying this within the criminal
justice context and the persistent challenge of providing counsel to the
indigent, as professionals we had better not settle for unfairness as a norm.
Especially in minor criminal cases, we need to “sweat the small stuff” more
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