Fair Use – Photo from Adam Scotti-STrib

For the duration of the saga of Peter Erlinder in Rwanda, it’s been hard not get a headache from my rolling eyeballs.   This is just what I’d expect, from what I know of him during my time William Mitchell and my armchair “psychotherapy” practice (don’t worry, I refer every one of my clients out, it’s in the retainer!).  All the post-arrest whining and hue and cry… shocked???  Pul-leeeeeeeze…  Let’s get real, he knew what he was getting into, gave a CYA notice to the feds, knew what all he’d published, knew the Rwandan law, and cavorted with rabid pitbulls. That was the choice, and from all reports, he had actual and constructive notice of the risk.  From all reports, he expected there would be problems.  He goes, he gets busted, he’s surprised… EH?

btw… where is he licensed to practice?  Pro hac vice’d in by someone in Rwanda?

So in the midst of all this, a recent STrib article was truly refreshing, Erlinder being honest and hilarious.  As for his honesty, it helps, because statements of denial by family and supporters weren’t credible:

St. Paul law Prof. Peter Erlinder told a court on Monday that he did try to kill himself in a Rwandan jail cell this month.

Erlinder, who appeared in Rwanda’s high court appealing for his release on bail, said he has struggled with depression for 25 years and has felt suicidal before, according to audio recordings of the hearing obtained by the Star Tribune.

“Your honor, I lost all hope to live,” said Erlinder, who appeared in court clad in a pink jail smock and shorts and sporting a freshly-buzzed head and beard. “When I was in the detention facility not knowing what was going to happen, not being able to talk to lawyers, family, not knowing if I was going to live or die, I had a breakdown,” he said.

And hilarious, spoken like a guy who grew up wrenching garbage trucks:

At Monday’s hearing, Erlinder also alluded to a connection with the Obama family, saying that he was once First Lady Michelle Obama’s “garbage man.” Erlinder’s family says it appears to be a reference to his early days working at his father’s truck hauling business on the South Side of Chicago.

As one who tilts at windmills, waves the red flag in front of bull and bullshitter alike, I can relate to the drive to take on the biggest and the baddest, but “it can’t happen to me” isn’t a workable strategy going in and denial now won’t help.  Reality can be a good swift kick in the head, and it looks like he’s had a harsh bit of reality orientation. This is not a game, and it’s high stakes.  The pink outfit is the least of it!  Time to get real —  a South Side Chicago attitude would probably help.

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