Work-Life Balance

After courtroom tears in high-profile case, lawyer closes office for one-year sabbatical

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Lawyer Cheryl Carpenter was in tears as she argued for leniency on behalf of her client, Theodore Wafer, who was convicted of second-degree murder for the shooting death of Renisha McBride, a 19-year-old woman who banged on his door last November.

Wafer, of Dearborn Heights, Michigan, was sentenced to at least 17 years in prison during the September hearing. “I’ve never cried like that in a courtroom,” Carpenter tells the Detroit News. “I was horrified by it. Society does not accept tears or emotion very well. Especially from attorneys.”

Now Carpenter has decided it’s time for a break, the Detroit News says. She laid off her assistant and closed her office, announcing at her new blog that she is “officially on a year sabbatical from full-time legal practice.”

Now she is focusing on her two boys, 8 and 6, and “living life in the moment by connecting and having a hell of a good time doing it,” according to Carpenter’s blog.

A former public defender, Carpenter says the pressure in the Wafer case was greater than any other case she has handled. “I realized I was putting my client ahead of everything else,” she tells the Detroit News. Her husband, a pediatrician “kind of gave me a pass, but the kids didn’t. They felt it.”

Carpenter says her new profession is “stay-at-home mom,” but she will take on a few smaller matters, and will continue teaching trial skills.

“I am doing what I want now,” Carpenter writes at her blog. “No more being a slave to my overhead at the office, having to take cases I don’t want or not passionate in.”

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