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Tesla / Dicta: Memories, Blessings, and the Truth
The Reason for the Season of My Discontent
If you have read my updates over the last twenty-four hours concerning the obscenely but oh-so-routinely truncated objections period for the Tesla settlement that stands to wash nearly seven-hundred-plus pages of discovery under the proverbial rug in a matter of days, and with it, grant a certain amount of absolution to the Tesla board, in exchange for a transfer of value originating from we-literally-do-not-know-exactly-where … well, I wouldn’t blame you if you were wondering exactly what is going on with me.
Other than being grateful for the adversarial litigation process and lamenting its conspicuous absence in the settlement context, notwithstanding all the lessons that we thought we learned in the AMC case, I’m trying hard to heed the advice of a good friend and “not ascribe to malice that which can be ascribed to incompetence.” But I just can’t get this “days that a bank is permitted to close” definition out of my mind. I’m trying, I promise. I’m trying really hard not to make it mean that there’s something in the discovery or elsewise beneath this settlement that they really don't want people digging into, and that even shaving one day off the potential window for objectors was worth coming up with such creative language, and that it was all just some absolutely unhappy accident with some bullshit stock text that I’ve just never bothered to be bothered by before. But when the savviest players in Delaware say there’s no chance that they could have time to get a request in within the deadline to get access to the discovery under the protective order with the current schedule, it’s hard to stay positive. I swear to you, I’m trying.
And as I mentioned, a lot of it feels like burnout after seven months of non-stop AMC double duty, and burning a bright candle at both ends, trying to illuminate a lot of very dark corners for people who didn’t have the first clue how they even ended up in the state where they found themselves. But there’s more to it than that. And I’ve talked about it on Threads, but I know that many of you aren’t there, so I want to talk about it here, because it’s important.
I found out last week that a law school sectionmate of mine — Justin Ehrenwerth — died by suicide in May. I discovered this tragic fact because Threads is an Instagram product, which requires a Meta login, which in turns links to Facebook, and so in the process of doing all the social media things, I somehow got logged into my Messenger account and got a very outdated notification from a group thread that took me to our Alumni FB group, which lead to an obituary and several other pieces that broke my heart.
It wasn’t — obviously — that Justin was an incredibly close friend of mine. Because, one would hope, if that were the case, that it wouldn’t have taken four months for me to learn of his passing. And nothing about the loss is mine, and so while I appreciate the sentiments that people share when they say, “I’m so sorry for your loss” when I express my sorrow about it, it certainly is not in any sense my loss. It is the world’s loss, his family’s loss, his children’s loss, it is all of our loss. This planet is less without this man in it. That is part of what I am struggling so much with, in his passing.
Full disclosure: I am a Section 3 homegirl for my law school classmates in a way that I can’t explain. It’s stupid and weird and plenty of people will hate this about me. I don’t fucking care. I loved Penn Law and in particular, everything about our section. We were close knit, we were good to each other, we had so much fun together. And I was the kind of person who loved law school and everything about it. Justin and I weren’t close friends in a traditional sense, but we did have a bond that was weird, and idiosyncratic, and based upon some very specific synchronicities that make this particular death hard to grapple with, especially in light of my own recent struggles of the past few years that I haven’t been shy about discussing. Justin was the epitome of someone who exuded giving a fuck in the really good way, in his nature.
Justin and I were odd balls because we were very close in age but otherwise out of our age group in law school. We had both taken time after college to explore the world. We were both philosophy dorks. He had gone to college with a bunch of my friends since I had gone to high school in Maine and he went to Colby College and ran a diversity conference that spanned Colby, Bates, and Bowdoin where many of my high school friends had dispersed to. Our relationship didn’t run deep beyond these random shared facts and some campaign work in the late oughts, but he was the kind of person who made the world better for everyone, even those far in his periphery. His mother also died almost exactly when mine did, very young in terms of their lives and ours. And he had just outlived her lifespan. And I’m absolutely sure I’m just projecting my own struggles on him, but it just hurts my heart to think about how hard life must have been to get to the place he ultimately did—to not be able to see what everyone else saw in him, to not be able to feel the joy that his own existence brought to the rest of the world.
When I say that he was an extraordinary person, I don’t think that I’m exaggerating or apotheosizing him in death. He just was. He was a pleasure to be around. He was supremely successful. He was kind and giving of himself. He was gentle but whip smart. He was born into a certain amount of privilege, but took that to mean that he should act with humility and grace.
I cannot really bear to think about what it means for the world that this happened. I know it’s just a thing that happens. I know it doesn’t necessarily mean anything more than that it did happen. But I’m so gutted for him, his pain, and for the rest of us and especially his loved ones. His wife. His kids. I also can’t help but notice his recent service on the Anti-Defamation League and wonder to myself how the world is failing in so many ways large and small to avoid losing its center.
Justin was the kindest soul who did so much good in the world. He worked tirelessly for the protection of our literal coastlines. But I fear that we are not grappling with the mental health waves that are crashing on our shores. Perhaps they are usual tidal patterns, but something feels different about the ferocity of this rip tide. I know in particular that in the legal community, we are just beginning to dip our toe in the water to even contemplate addressing the enormity of these problems. I implore us to try harder, move faster, and speak about it more. We have so much to lose.
So much love,