Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Homeless, schizophrenic, Harvard Law '79

"Schizophrenia creeps. Some people, especially those as accomplished as Postell, can hide their symptoms for months. As the victim withdraws from social and work life, plunging into isolation, relatives, friends and co-workers may not notice anything amiss. Then there’s a snap. Psychologists refer to this moment as a “psychotic break” or a “first break.” It’s when a victim’s slackening grip on reality finally ruptures, cleaving their lives into two clear categories: before and after."

"The judge settled his gaze on the homeless man accused of sleeping beside an office building in downtown Washington.
It was a Saturday afternoon in early April at D.C. Superior Court, and Alfred Postell, a diagnosed schizophrenic, stood before Judge Thomas Motley.
Postell’s hair was medium length and graying. His belly spilled over his pants. A tangled beard hung from his jowls.
“You have the right to remain silent,” a deputy clerk told Postell, according to a transcript of the arraignment. “Anything you say, other than to your attorney, can be used against you.”
“I’m a lawyer,” Postell replied.
Motley ignored the seemingly bizarre assertion, mulling over whether Postell, charged with unlawful entry, posed a flight risk.
“I have to return,” Postell protested, offering a convoluted explanation: “I passed the Bar at Catholic University, was admitted to Constitution Hall. I swore the Oath of Office as an attorney at Constitution Hall in 1979; graduated from Harvard Law School in 1979.”
That got Motley’s attention. He’d also graduated from Harvard Law School in 1979.
“Mr. Postell, so did I,” Motley said. “I remember you.”
This homeless man — who totes his belongings in white plastic bags, haunts the intersection of 17th and I streets NW and sometimes sleeps at a church — studied law alongside U.S. Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and former Wisconsin senator Russ Feingold. All of them graduated from Harvard in 1979."

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