Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Lessons My Father Taught Me

Practicing law is not an easy profession to pursue. Imagine if a large part of that career included criminal defense. What you do can dramatically affect the lives of your clients. Add to that the disapproval of some for defending “criminals.”

I can’t count the number of times I’ve asked why do I do it, defend criminals, that is. My answer is the United States Constitution–due process. My father explained to me at an early age that the Constitution was the foundation of our democracy: everyone was entitled to a fair trial, to be judged by a jury of their peers. He explained that’s what makes us different from the Soviet Union, communist China and other dictatorships. He believed in the value and dignity of every human life.

My father was an honorable man, whose word was his bond. My father believed that the practice of law was a privilege, that should not be tainted with dishonesty, incompetence, laziness or greed. He instilled in me a love for the law, the Constitution and a strong allegiance to my country and its system of government. He also taught me that a strong work ethic, compassion for others and returning phone calls were necessary, no matter what you did for a living.

He used to tell me, if you’re thoroughly prepared for trial, you can recite the facts of your case by heart, you know the weaknesses and strengths of your case and you’re ready to go to trial immediately, but instead, go back and prepare some more! Prepare until you’re too exhausted to go on and then start all over again the next day.

Lastly, he told me a good lawyer is always a little nervous before she enters the courtroom. It shows you care about your case and your client.

Belinda Stevens is a criminal defense attorney who practices in Yazoo City. She is the daughter of the late John Sharp Holmes, a successful trial lawyer who only lost three cases in his legal career. Holmes' father was on the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals. Stevens' grandfather, John Sharp Williams, was a United States Senator and was good friends with Woodrow Wilson. Her love of history comes honestly, and can be seen in her novel, "Just Out of Reach," which is set in Mississippi in the turbulent 1960's. Stevens has also written a fun parody, "50 Shades of Fur," a bawdy tale featuring canine characters. Both books can be found on Amazon.com. 

Monday, October 12, 2015

What Mama Gave Me

I inherited a great deal from my mother–the most cherished had no monetary value but were priceless just the same. They include a strong belief in God, a desire to educate myself, how to be courageous and a love of reading.

There were two things my mother wanted for her children: a faith in God to rely on and a college education. Sunday school and church were mandatory when I was growing up–a habit that has served me wall later in life. Summer vacation also included vacation Bible school. As an adult, I feel truly blessed to have the community and friendship of fellow church members, as well as my faith that has carried me through difficult times.

Mama’s insistence and dogged determination got me and my siblings through the rigors of a college education. When growing up, homework came first and anything less than good grades were not tolerated. I’ll never forget fall semester of my freshman year in high school. I came home with bad grades and Mama tore my report card in half. Needless to say, my grades were much better the next semester! I didn’t want to go through the embarrassment of returning a Scotch-taped report card to my teachers. If I had a difficult time with a certain subject, Mama through nothing of hiring a tutor to assist me. Somewhere along the way, I developed a love of learning that I still retain.

My mother was one of the most courageous people I have ever known. When she was in her twenties, she lost her mother to cancer. She became a widow with three children at the age of thirty-three. She buried two sons and suffered from cancer and a crippling stroke. Despite everything, she remained strong and carried the rest of us through the darkness. She told me more than once to keep it together during a crisis. Once everything was over, I could indulge in the luxury of tears. She emphasized the need for our family to be strong for one another. She also reminded me that whatever difficulty I was going through would pass. Her famous words, that I still hear, are “this too shall pass.” Those words got me through a lot.

I was lucky enough to come from a family of readers. Both my parents encouraged in their children the love of literature. When I was small my mother introduced me to the local library. When I was sick my mother would read to me. My favorite book, of course, was Little Women. I wanted to be just like Jo. When I was in middle school, my mother took me to a bookstore and let me pick out a book to read. It was a 1000 page book called House Divided by Ben Ames Williams. After that, I began to write as well as read.

Well, there you have it–my inheritance–a rich one, indeed.

Belinda Stevens is a Yazoo City native and a practicing criminal defense attorney. She has published two books, Just Out of Reach, a historical romance that takes place in the turbulent 1960's, and 50 Shades of Fur, a fun parody with a cast of canine characters. She is working on her next novel, a legal thriller. For more information, visit www.belindastevens.com.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Conversations with Barnabas

"What's this book about Mommie?," barked the inquisitive Barnabas.

"It's about a Dachshund like you," said Barnabas' human, Belinda. "Well, not exactly like you, but close enough."

"Woof that again?"

"It's called '50 Shades of Fur,' and it takes place in a daycare center for dogs and cats," explained Belinda.

"Sounds downright furry!"

"It is," Belinda assured the pup.

"Tell me more," barked Barnabas.

"Well, it's all about these critters falling in and out of love, and all the furry misadventures that result due to their love triangles."

Barnabas cocked his furry head, and with a puzzled look on his furry face and asked, "What's a love triangle?"

"Something like your predecessor, 'Hump,' was involved in and I hope your canine self won't indulge in."

"I still don't get it!," barked Barnabas.

"Just love the right kind of she-dog," Belinda advised. "A good companion will go a long way in keeping your doggie self straight. No chasing cats, chewing on furniture and peeing where you shouldn't!"

"Yes, yes, exactly what is my doggie self to do, while giving a bark-out to '50 Shades of Fur?"

"Well, you and I will be going to various locations around the state, talking and barking about the book,signing autographs and pawgraphs, as well as giving doggie kisses to whomever buys the book. What do you think about that, Barn-Barn?"

"Oh Mommie, I can do that! You know I love to give out doggie kisses!"

Belinda Stevens is an attorney practicing in Yazoo City, as well as an author. Her second book is a fun parody called "50 Shades of Fur," and is available on Amazon.com. Follow her on FB, www.facebook.com/belindastevensauthor to see where she and Barnabas will be signing books!