“There’s a horse in the bar.”
Adam Reposa’s head swivels. His mouth creases into a wild grin, his teeth big and white as piano keys.
“Hunh you say?”
He is hunched over a bisected oil drum sizzling with white-hot charcoals. Turning chicken breasts and cheddar-jalapeño sausages. In the backyard of what Reposa has crowned “the diviest dive bar in Austin.” Saying something.
“There’s a fucking horse in the bar.”
Reposa’s thick dark brown beard and hair, billowing over his shoulders, drip with grill sweat and grease. It is over 100 degrees, a hot wind blowing up from old Mexico. It is his birthday. Thirty-eight. Taken over the entire saloon, inside and out, for the party. His wife and two-year-old son are not present. Many former and current clients are. As Reposa is a defense attorney in an already peculiar city’s atavistic underbelly, this may bode ill.
To me, “Check it out.”
I thread my way through a group passing a purple hash pipe. Sun still high, two bottles of Jack Daniel’s empty on the picnic table. Bourbon whiskey jug, Evan Williams brand, half full.
Up a short flight of metal stairs, there is indeed a horse in the bar. Brown and sleek, shod, saddled and reined to the rail.
A voice in the dark. “Idiot, that ain’t a horse. It’s a mule.” Well.…
Back outside, someone hands me a longneck Lone Star. Chippy, one of Reposa’s oldest friends. Tall, thin, grew up on the south Texas side of the Sabine. Accounts for the clipped bayou accent. Did a seven-year federal bit for smuggling major-weight weed, back when Reposa was still in law school, or else he would have defended him. Probably would have walked him. Chippy’s straight now, owns a pizza joint.
I nod toward a corner. Two zaftig Hispanic women—Rubens would paint them, Tracy Jordan would bed them—chatting at an outdoor garden table. Smoking grass and sipping vodka.
“Those, um, the strippers?”
Chippy, laconic, pulls on his own longneck. “Well, you know, everything’s bigger in Texas.”
Getting ahead of myself.
THREE DAYS EARLIER
The door flies open from the outside, releasing the faint aroma of wood varnish and Jim Beam. Adam Reposa doffs his white straw fedora, loosens his Carnaby Street neon-blue tie and carefully folds his cranberry-striped seersucker suit jacket over a chair back in his new office suite.
He slumps into a larger chair, snaps his suspenders like an old-timey banker and plops his alligator boots onto a desk. Lowers them. Stands. Sits. Plops. Stands again. Paces. All kinetic energy. If I am a personal pronoun, Adam Reposa is a verb.
“I’m pretty constrained in what I can do with this space.” He waves his arm about the cramped, three-room attic. “Some Bondo and paint on that wall. Put in that little window. Those bricks, they were the chimney. Covered ’em with cement and painted ’em. The look I’m going for? Better than an attic.”
An attic in a run-down clapboard house steps from the Heman Marion Sweatt Travis County Courthouse in downtown Austin, Reposa’s stage and laboratory. Have to climb the fire escape to enter. Convenient, at least, if maybe not what you’d expect from a man some view as the best criminal defense attorney in the Texas Hill Country, perhaps the entire state…and others view as the legal profession’s version of a monstrous hybrid of Charlie Sheen and Russell Brand.
Saw it up close. Within an hour of my landing last night he plied me with oysters, local-brewed IPAs, many (many) shots of Kentucky bourbon. Bartender refused to let us pay. Reposa once skated him on a DWI. I tipped appropriately.
So I dragged this morning when we hit the courthouse. Scut-work day in a holiday week: filings, rescheduled hearings, no trials. Reposa, by contrast, was…chipper. Everyone admired his rainbow getup in a world of gray flannel and repp ties. Almost everyone. Five courtrooms, five judges. I counted three amused smiles, one raised eyebrow, one mean stare and glare. “Me and him got into it one time,” Reposa explained.
Just one time? From the lawyer who advertises himself as “Bulletproof” and owns the website DWIBadass.com? From the lawyer whose photoshopped mug leers from the back page of every issue of Austin’s most popular underground newspaper in poses ranging from French-kissing a pit bull to banging a policewoman doggy style? From the lawyer who gleefully performed a cameo in Total Badass, a notorious documentary that tracked one of Austin’s biggest marijuana dealers—who now happens to be Reposa’s legal assistant? From the lawyer whose most famous YouTube video shows him ramming an old Chrysler with a massive truck while screaming like a pirate, “I am a lawyer—don’t get in my way!”?
Naturally there are reality-show producers sniffing.
But oh my, lots of people don’t get, and don’t like, Adam Reposa. Predominantly prosecutors and judges. His trademark: despises the plea bargain. DWI, assault, drugs—the charge does not matter. Always a trial. Usually wins, then brags on it just to piss people off.
Riffing on the attic again. “They come in, I got this shitty fuckin’ space. So I have to do something with it. I’m sort of like the architect. It’s the same thing with a criminal case. Somebody brings you a shitty set of facts. ‘Okay, dude, let me think how I can creatively litigate this case.’
“Most defense lawyers, it’s like being a real estate agent. ‘Let me see if I can get a price the seller’s gonna be good with and the buyer’s gonna be good with. I get my money and we’re outta there.’ Fuckin’ plea bargains. People are gonna get half-assed representation, and they’re not gonna fuckin’ know any better, not gonna know they’re getting fucked. Happens every day.
“That’s the mind-set. Sit there and tell the client, ‘You better be scared. It could go badly. Oh, this is a good deal.’ If you’re the government, would you rather have that or not? Of course you would. I’m always the opposite. If I can justify going to court, then let’s have a fucking trial.”
It seems to work. By Reposa’s own count—it is hard to believe that no official body keeps track of wins, losses and pleas, but apparently none does—last year he nailed 10 not-guilties out of “probably, like, 17 or 18 trials,” with another half dozen walks or time-serveds through the first half of this year.
Reposa is pacing faster now, the words jumbled in his throat, racing to get out. Can’t come quick enough when he is riled. Gets him in trouble in court. Grievances with the state bar. Contempt citations. Probation. Even jail time.
“Really, what is it that these prosecutors want? They want a big trophy, a big jailbird they can hang on their wall and make themselves feel better, like they’ve gone out and killed it. You come to me, you know what I’m gonna say? ‘Trial, have a jury trial. Do not plead guilty.’
“Tell the jury, ‘If y’all feel like what you need to do is make this guy lose his job and lose his lease and literally just hurt him because of the fact that he went out and drank and drove and he could have killed somebody—if that’s what you think justice is, then y’all should do that.’ But the reality is, he’s either gonna get the message or he won’t. Plenty of people go to prison for DWI and get out and do it again. Just getting locked up doesn’t predict how someone’s gonna act.”
And this works? In Texas?
“Like fuckin’ gangbusters here in Travis County. Mothers Against Drunk Driving hate me. The jurors get it. You’re just gonna have one more broke dick down on their luck looking for a place to live, trying to get back on their feet. And if that’s what you think justice is, making it so people have to struggle to get back on their feet because they could have gotten in a wreck and hurt somebody, give ’em a big jail sentence.
“Jesus, that’s what pisses me off. I went after these defense lawyers here, talking shit about how they’re shitty lawyers, and the state bar sanctioned me. I’m like.…”
He makes the waggle-fist jerk-off sign, the same motion that got him suspended and thrown in jail when he directed it at a prosecutor in open court. “Picked up four clients while I was inside,” he says.
Reposa eyes a bottle of Cuervo standing on an end table, pushes his hair behind his ears, scratches the thick beard.
“People believe in the magic lawyer, the connected lawyer, the lawyer who can make things go away. And everybody sort of plays into that at every level. It’s fucking ridiculous. Put it this way: Before me they didn’t used to offer time served on DWIs. Now they all do.
“Everyone here goes to the judge on punishments. I go to the jury. You have a choice in Texas. When I started doing that, everyone was like, ‘Man, the jury’s gonna put Reposa’s guy in jail forever.’
“The first time I did it, DWI, jury came in. Lost. Went back to them for sentencing. Gave the dude four days in jail, time served.”
Pause. Big breath.
“Get a margarita?”
Austin is a state of mind. The top-selling T-shirt slogan says it: KEEP AUSTIN WEIRD. South by Southwest. The University of Texas. The gin mills of Sixth Street hard by the governor’s mansion. Hipster Portland meets drink-and-puke Beale Street. A town made for Adam Reposa.
He grew up middle-class in San Antonio, 70 miles southwest. Dad a family psychologist—sick now, early-onset Alzheimer’s—and Mom a community-college teacher. Right-thinking people, he says. “Liberals, sort of. For San Antonio.” Wanted something better for Reposa and his sister. Put them both through college and postgrad. She’s now an ob-gyn up in Fort Worth. He graduated from the University of Texas law school and stayed in town. “I’d say they’re proud,” he says with some warmth.
He hung his shingle out 10 years ago, and even his detractors, legion as they are, admit he is a brilliant attorney. “Dresses and acts like a clown show,” a local prosecutor tells me one morning at the Travis County Courthouse. “But yeah, he gets ’er done. Until they disbar him.”
“That’s a little harsh,” says an Austin defense attorney. “Most people think trials are like you see on TV. They aren’t at all, of course, except for Reposa’s.”
Another defense attorney, a petite, pretty blonde named Stefanie Collins, who once worked as Reposa’s assistant, tells me that since the birth of his son, Cash, two years ago, she’s found his “madness” has ratcheted down considerably. “Of course,” she adds, “Adam’s ratcheted down is most other people’s fourth gear.”
Judge Carlos H. Barrera, before whom Reposa has argued several cases, is more circumspect. “I don’t think the show hurts him a lot except with his reputation among traditional lawyers and judges.” The soft-spoken judge and I are chatting in his chambers, and this last remark pulls me up short. Isn’t Texas chockablock with traditional lawyers and judges?
Barrera allows a chuckle. “You probably have a greater number of defense attorneys who think he’s okay than do judges and prosecutors. I say probably, overall, two thirds of all people who work in the courthouse think he goes too far.”
And this is in Travis County, a known island of liberal thinking—and liberal juries—in a sea of dead-red Baptists.
As we converse I get the impression that Barrera likes Reposa, even if he finds his act obnoxious. Thinks he is smart. Just too much of a wiseass—particularly when he knows he’s right.
“He’ll make comments that are unnecessary,” Barrera says, “although they might be true. He can’t refrain. They make him look bad.”
Like badgering the state’s expert witness about the level of pain a blood-engorged penis jammed up her butt would cause.
TWO DAYS EARLIER
“Oh, man, I was so fuckin’ right about that penis thing. The jerk-off sign? Same trial. Okay, wrong on that. Not wrong-wrong, you know, but wrong to, like, do it. I apologized. Took my jail time. Told you I came out with four clients? Took the home confinement with the ankle monitor, paid the $3,000 fine. Took the work release picking up trash on the side of the road. The three-year probation, up next March.”
Reposa spoons the last of the sludgy frozen margarita into my glass, orders chicken burritos, a side of red beans and rice, another pitcher. In perfect Spanish. South side of town, across the Colorado. Gen-u-ine Mex restaurant.
Certain he is always “so fuckin’ right” and then being so smart about it has been a hallmark since he first began practicing. One of his first trials, defending “a buddy” charged with second-degree DWI, was up in Denton County, north of Dallas. “Bunch of Baptists,” he remembers. “Super Bible Belt.”
Cut his hair, wore a conservative suit, ended his summation “just throwing out random shit.” Mimics the twang he used, as slurry as any jim-cracker.
“As ah stand heeyuh I am jus’ afraid that I didn’t do a good ’nough job for mah client. I am jus’ afraid that I failed him buh-cause I know he is not guilty. I can look at this videotape and tell that he is not guilty. And I pray to Gawd that ahm not alone.…”
Ace in the hole? The clock. It was 4:40, and court was closing at five. Only Reposa noticed. The judge moved to send the jury home and come back the next morning to deliberate. “I hopped out of my chair. ‘Judge, we don’t mind. Let ’em start deliberating.’ Looks at me with these fucking killer eyes.
“Then he turns to the jury and says, ‘Do y’all want to try and deliberate for 15 minutes?’ Jury says yes. At 4:59 they come in. Out 16 minutes. Not guilty. Like they were really gonna come back tomorrow. Judge is fuckin’ pissed. Kinda growls, ‘You got lucky, Mr. Reposa.’”
Luck is good. Until it goes bad. Like in the penis case. “Pure bullshit” Reposa calls the state bar’s grievance against him. “And it wasn’t even the witness who complained; it was the prosecutor. And the state bar fuckin’ grieved me!”
Long story short: defending an alleged homosexual rapist. Says he felt “terrible and horrible” for the alleged victim, “if it happened.”
Still, everyone deserves their day in court. Reposa smelled a rat. All came down to the opinion of the state’s expert as to what constitutes pain.
“So they got a case they can’t prove. They offered my guy two years deferred. He could have been looking at life, and they reduce it to the lowest grade of felony—two years deferred probation. Wouldn’t even go on his record if he completed the probation. I told my client, ‘Turn that down.’
“That’s a very hard thing to do, tell your client not to take that. Put your whole life on the line, and you might go to prison forever.”
The case hinged, as per the Austin defense attorney I spoke to earlier, on the Adam Reposa show. Back-and-forth with the state’s expert medical witness about the level of pain caused by anal penetration.
“She’s like, ‘Well, I don’t know how to answer that question.’
“So I said, ‘Well, let me ask, if you get smacked in the head full-swing with a golf club, is that gonna hurt?’
“‘Well, if you get hit in the asshole with a fucking dick, is that gonna hurt?’”
Well, I sure don’t believe that. You said “asshole” and “fucking dick” in court?
Sheepish pause. More margaritas. “No, I did not. I said something like ‘So you would also agree then, the first time you get anally penetrated by a penis it is going to cause pain?’”
The expert witness waffled, he says. “So I respond, ‘Well, are you personally familiar with the phenomenon?’
“The state objected. The judge sustained it. All hell breaks loose. I’m like, ‘Is anal sex embarrassing? You’re a doctor. Does the subject of anal sex embarrass you, Doctor?’ Jesus.
“That’s what I got nailed on. The prosecutor filed a grievance with the state bar. The law says that if you ask a question that’s just intended to embarrass a witness and not have any substantial purpose, that’s grievable. My purpose was obviously to find out, What’s the basis of your opinion? Have you ever been penetrated? If her answer is yes, then my next question is, ‘Did it hurt?’
“And how’s she gonna answer? ‘Yes, ladies and gentlemen, the first time it happened to me it didn’t hurt.’ She loses all her credibility. Or she says, ‘No, I have no idea.’ Well, everybody on this jury knows that you know it hurts. I’ve got them, and I’m never gonna lose them.
“Criminal case? I won. Not guilty on every count. And then after I got the contempt I did go kind of postal, because that’s when I really wanted to show the world how terrible the lawyers are in Austin.”
It does strike me that taunting rival attorneys in the newspaper with foul plays on their names—“Betty Butthole,” “Prick McGuire”—qualifies as going postal.
One night we bounce, hit six, eight joints. Start on the quieter south side of the river before making our way north to downtown. Reposa’s friend defense attorney Ben Blackburn drives. Big Ben’s ride is a yellow Caddy decked out with a supersonic boom box that he parks outside of saloons with the trunk open to display a neon sign that reads 478-JAIL—GET OUT. Keeping Austin weird.
It is, as I said, a holiday week, and the city is jacked. Lines to get in to all the live-music joints, though Reposa and Blackburn jump every one. They’ve represented so many of the bouncers and bartenders.
As part of the state bar findings against him, Reposa still owes the state community service. At one of the quieter gin mills he tells me his idea. “Drunk Drivers of Texas.” No shit. Drunk Drivers of Texas.
He hatched it with his old friend Chad Holt, a reefer-dealing legal assistant he hired after walking him from a hashish arrest. The filmmaker Bob Ray is in on it too. Ray, a former punk rocker, directed the YouTube video of Reposa in a monster truck and a well-received documentary about Holt called Total Badass. My favorite line from the film, which Holt repeats to me one day when we talk in Reposa’s office: “I took a year off from work to raise guinea pigs with my girlfriend and do cocaine.” Show-quality guinea pigs, mind you. Who knew? He only started the blow, he says, because he was on probation and they were testing him weekly for marijuana.
Reposa, Holt and Ray figure the city needs a nonprofit program that attracts attention. Drunk Drivers of Texas sure fills that bill. They will recruit people recently arrested for DWIs and send them into bars and saloons as living, breathing warnings. Have them sit there “like in an airport information booth, educating people.” Reposa’s eyes light up, either at the thought of his pending Samaritan-ness or from the reddish-colored double shots containing God knows what that we have just downed.
“Have them saying, ‘Look, man, they’ll arrest you for goddamn nothing. Then you’re gonna be spending all this money going to court. It’s just not worth it. Here are the bus routes. Here’s the number for a free cab ride.’”
He plans to outfit these volunteers in safety orange or neon green to make them easy to spot and fund the entire enterprise—the clothing, the gratis car services—with donations from bar owners, who will then get publicity as sponsors of Drunk Drivers of Texas.
Meanwhile Reposa will be able to walk the busted offenders into their court hearings and explain to the judge that they have already learned their lesson, Your Honor, and have voluntarily begun their own community service. He is pleased with himself. Orders us another double shot of red goop.
I express my reservations that bar owners will line up to get involved with this scheme. Reposa takes umbrage. “I seriously doubt that. I think a lot of bars would want to be Drunk Drivers of Texas sponsors. That’s good PR. ‘Yeah, we sell a bunch of drinks, but we also give some of that money to this nonprofit to try to facilitate keeping people from getting behind the wheel after they’ve been drinking.’
“You’ll see. We’re going to shoot the first PSA at my birthday party.”
ONE DAY EARLIER
Breakfast. Huevos rancheros.
One of Reposa’s more interesting crusades is his ongoing harassment of a state district judge named Ken Anderson from neighboring Williamson County. Twenty-five years ago Anderson, then a district attorney, put an alleged wife killer named Michael Morton away for life. Morton was released only last October when he was exonerated by DNA evidence. Morton’s lawyers claim in court papers that Anderson withheld crucial evidence that allowed the real murderer to remain free and kill again.
A formal court of inquiry into Anderson’s alleged misconduct will begin in December, and Reposa burns white-hot over the fact that Anderson still presides while he’s being investigated. He has cases before this judge. Still, not long ago he drove up to Williamson County with 100 yard signs adorned with Anderson’s creepy-leery Satan-smile face juxtaposed with the words I COST AN INNOCENT MAN 25 YEARS OF HIS LIFE, AND I FEEL TERRIBLE. THAT IS WHY I REFUSE TO RESIGN.
“Offends my sensibilities.” Reposa mops up the last of his huevos with a slice of sourdough toast. To the waitress, “Más café, por favor.
“Cops use their county up there like a hunting preserve. They brag, ‘We are the most pro-law-enforcement county in the area.’ And people move there for that. So you get simpler-minded people. There are counties like this in and around Dallas, around Houston. Everyone knows that the cops up there are much more likely to pull people over, profile, do illegal searches. So when you do catch them at it”—he bangs so hard on the table other customers flinch—“you don’t let ’em off the hook.”
But why single out Anderson?
“Jesus, because he’s still on the bench. It is utterly repugnant that he is still making rulings after there’s been a probable-cause determination that he failed to turn over what he was ordered to turn over, and an innocent guy did 25 years.
“Look, y’all need to wake up and see that there are real consequences when people put themselves in the position of basically saying they believe whatever government tells them to believe. When people give government that much power, they’re gonna exploit it. That’s the nature of government. And people can’t wrap their minds around it. It’s cognitive dissonance. They’re just unable to believe something like that—that Williamson County and a crooked, rogue district attorney convinced a jury to throw away an innocent man’s life—because government says so.”
I delicately mention that a cynic might associate Reposa’s offended sensibilities toward the miscarriage of justice in Williamson County with the attendant free media coverage.
“Fine, but that would sound a lot better if there were 20 other people doing the same thing. I mean, fuck it, where are the goddamn lawyers who were on the case? Morton’s lawyers, their offices are right here. I mean, fuck it, if they don’t, I’ll do it for them.”
When it comes to criminal baggage, Reposa has a carry permit. His public record is a symphony of discordant notes. By his own account he has seen the inside of a jail cell probably 15 times. “Public intoxication, assault, drunk driving, possession of marijuana. I like to fight, but I don’t have any family violence. All my assaults have been guy on guy. But it was all before I became a lawyer. I was a stupid kid. Since I got my degree, jail time just the once. The state bar sanction. At least it was winter. You do not want to do time during the Texas summer.
“Then again, I look at my life, dude: Glass half empty or half full? My glass is about 89 percent full. It would be stupid for me to act like I don’t have a very, very, very good life.”
Methinks Reposa’s glass may not be as full as he projects. There are rumblings among his circle that his mates Chad Holt, 18 years a friend, and the filmmaker Bob Ray are unhappy about being eased out of any pending reality-show deal. It was after all their Total Badass documentary that put Reposa on Hollywood’s radar. And during my stay in Austin it is hinted to me on several occasions that his bug-eyed performance in the jumbo-truck “I am a lawyer!” YouTube video has again attracted the attention of the state bar’s sanctioning committee.
Closer to home, by the time you read this, Reposa’s common-law wife, Susan, will have moved to Scotland for 14 months with their two-year-old son and his 10-year-old stepson in order to pursue her master’s degree in environmentally sustainable development at the University of Edinburgh. Reposa cryptically informs me that there is no guarantee she will be returning to Texas. When I run into the blonde, doe-eyed Susan one morning at Reposa’s office we share a pleasant conversation about many things—Scottish trains, the current heat wave, her older boy’s budding athletic prowess—many things except, pointedly, her husband.
Susan, a seemingly lovely, grounded woman—not quite the “Catwoman meets Lady Gaga” Mrs. Reposa I had imagined—has arrived to deliver child-custody papers the two have been haggling over. When her meeting with Reposa in the next room grows perfervid enough to be heard through the attic walls, I take a gentlemanly leave. That same morning I sit with Susan’s stepsister Jana Ortega for coffee at a Starbucks close to the Travis County Courthouse. Ortega, a stunning brunette, is yet another local defense attorney—I am beginning to wonder if being a knockout is a requirement for the job around here. It is a measure of the charm Reposa oozes that his sister-in-law wonders aloud why she is even meeting with me, “much less saying such nice things about him. I mean, my sister’s leaving him.”
Ortega prefers to avoid discussion about her stepsister’s marital situation—“I was definitely worried for Susan, but Susan’s a big girl.” Yet like many others she admits to personally liking Reposa. “It’s a love-hate relationship.”
When she opened her own practice, Ortega says, “he was just beginning to build his reputation. There were a lot of people who had respect for his legal mind. He was the talk of the town. Everyone was sort of fascinated with him. We’ve all come to the consensus that we are dealing with a brilliant lawyer. We just wish he would rein it in a little bit.”
Here our conversation turns more sad than sanguine. “It bothers a lot of people around the courthouse. They feel he doesn’t have respect for the profession in general. I worry about where he’s going.”
The flamboyance, the “antics,” she says, “is a line he’s crossed. I understand he wants to express himself that way, but I don’t think that should be at the cost of a law degree.”
As we depart I ask Ortega if she will be attending Reposa’s birthday party the next day. She looks at me as if I am the biggest idiot in Texas.
Full circle. The saddled mule is still in the bar. I am not. Chad Holt hands me a joint. When he walks off I donate it, unlit, to a big-breasted blonde in a halter top. She fires it up and sidles across the cracked dirt and brown grass toward Holt.
Now, a relatively quiet corner of the backyard. Someone hands Reposa a big plastic cup of red wine. I mention his rap sheet, the DWIs in particular.
“Oh, man, you have to?” The weed possession, the assaults, the public intoxication—he fesses right up. But the two DWIs?
“Whoa! What do you mean dee-wees?”
Public record says two.
“Nuh-hunh.” Indignant. “Just one. I should know how many fucking dee-wees I got. Fucking one. I was a kid. Jesus, you put that in your story?”
Yes. Listen, wife going to Scotland, Holt and Ray not happy, state bar may be looking at your YouTube video. Things going south?
Reposa’s face scrunches up tight. He swigs the wine. “I’m fighting with my old lady. Leave it at that. Other’n that, I don’t think anything’s going south.
“Chad’s been a longtime friend of mine. Definitely gets a lot of people in the door. Routinely brings in $3,000, $4,000, $5,000 cases. So it’s like, well, fuck it, I’m gonna give this dude a job. Now, is he the most organized person? Is he the most efficient? Fuck no.”
And the video? Trouble with the state bar?
“They would have already sent me some shit. Fact is, it’s not a commercial. You have to have your phone number, and you have to say, ‘I provide a service.’ I never said I provide any goddamn service. I said, ‘Don’t get in my way.’ You can stand in the middle of the road and juggle puppies and say, ‘I’m a lawyer.’ That’s not a commercial.
“I think the majority of people would be like, ‘Yeah, I wouldn’t mind having that guy’s problems.’ People know my reputation and they hire me. And then when I show up, the prosecutor and the judge are like, ‘Okay, here’s Reposa. Let’s see what he’s got.’
“A few years ago I think maybe that reputation was as a fucking joke. But now I think most people know, don’t let the song and dance and the bow tie and the long hair fool you. The guy’ll then get up and make some moves real quick, and before you know it the state’s all, ‘Fuck, we’re really gonna lose this.’
“I might not get the big-money cases. The lawyer with the right office and the right look? You have to go to the right country clubs, go to the right churches, be in the right networks. Most people who are gonna spend $50,000 have been treated right by the system. They believe in the legitimacy of it. So somebody who says, ‘The system’s illegitimate. Don’t trust the system,’ they look at like, ‘This guy’s on the fringe. This guy kind of scares me.’
“My personal theory of arguing a case—the system usually gets it right. Look, the reality is, most of the people who get accused of something are guilty. Sometimes your client’s fucked, and if you can get him 17 instead of 40, fuck it, gotta plea. But if you’re a trial lawyer, it’s all-in poker. I’ve done the best ecstasy. I fucked the greatest virgins. And there’s nothing like walking a guilty person smooth out of court.
“But plenty of them are not. And I can say, ‘This time they got it wrong’ and make that argument as good and hard as I can. Tell you what, I get a reality show, people will watch the way I practice and the way I do things and then see the results I get. They’ll be like, ‘Well, fuck, I want to use this guy.’
“Shee-it. Turn that tape recorder off. It’s a party.”
Late now. Inside. The Star Wars bar-scene trope is beaten to death, but I can conjure no other. There was no mule in that joint, though.
On a small stage an Adele look-alike stomps the pedal of a bass drum with a cowboy boot and angrily strums an acoustic guitar. She shouts a song about fucking and fighting, fighting and fucking. Fireworks begin to fly. Literally. Roman candles. Bright red sparks and deafening blasts inside the bar. The mule rears in terror and deposits a steaming dump on the floor. More sparks, more blasts, a smoky haze. Bob Ray is filming the Drunk Drivers of Texas public service announcement.
Two party guests, a couple, slide toward the door. One is the defense attorney Stefanie Collins with her boyfriend, a Travis County peace officer. They seem to sense it is time. I hitch a ride.
As I slip away from the saloon, people are drinking and dancing and screaming and laughing, and the best damn defense lawyer in the Texas Hill Country and maybe in the state is rolling across the floor in a wheelchair, ducking and firing Roman candles for a PSA against driving drunk. I assume all his guests are taking taxis home.