Trial lawyer draws on experience in writing novels
Here’s the first installment in a series of interviews that will be published in the Grand Valley Business Times in a question-and-answer format. The first interview features Carroll Multz, a retired trial attorney and former district attorney who serves as an adjunct professor at Mesa State College in Grand Junction. The first in a series of fictional works Multz has written has been published. Set in Western Colorado, “Justice Denied” tells the story about a bank official charged with embezzlement, a frameup by a colleague and the preemptive justice of a local police chief. Multz has previously published technical books, manuals and articles. He holds undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Montana. Here, Multz answers questions he said he’d would have asked himself.
Q: Of the five novels you’ve written, is “Justice Denied” the best?
A: “Justice Denied” would be like the first born to a mother of five. They are all different and I have no favorite.
Q: You’ve written technical books and manuals. What prompted you to write a novel?
A: “Justice Denied” started out as an instructional device. And by inserting hypothetical factual patterns to make the legal concepts understandable, a novel evolved. I kiddingly refer to my novels as textbooks disguised as novels. The fact that they entertain is but a byproduct.
Q: Your characters appear real. Are they?
A: It’s strange how the characters speak to the writer as the plot unfolds. One thinks of the writer as controlling the characters he or she creates. In my experience, I have found it to be the other way around. The characters are real only in that sense. As my publisher states in the novels, however, any similarity to persons living or dead is purely coincidental.
Q: What message is meant to be sent by “Justice Denied?”
A: Justice is an attainable goal. Seldom is it speedy, precise and complete. More often than not, it is bittersweet. However, it is a goal for which all should strive.
Q: What was the most memorable moment you can share from your law school days?
A: A distressing moment comes to mind when I think of the most memorable and it has nothing to do with academia. It was billed as an event to introduce the incoming freshmen to the upperclassmen and vice versa. It was also billed as touch football. In reality, it was the upperclassmen’s way of attempting to exert physical dominance. Our freshman class was determined to resist. With the score tied and seconds remaining, I was poised to attempt the game-winning field goal. Anxious to watch the ball pass between the uprights, I took my eyes off the ball just long enough to watch it miss its mark. When I turned away dejected amid the thunderous hoots and hollers of the upperclassmen, I was flattened. I never saw who did it, but wouldn’t be a bit surprised if it was one of my disgruntled teammates. That’s why I was flabbergasted as a senior to be elected president of the law house and president of my law fraternity. Fortunately, their memories were short-lived.
Q: What was the highlight of your law school experience?
A: Graduating and being selected one of three to serve as a law clerk for the Montana Supreme Court.
Q: Can you outline your teaching experience at Mesa State College?
A: I started out team-teaching mass media law and ethics (now known as journalism law and ethics) with Larry Mazzeno (who later became a college president at another institution) in 1990. I have taught mainly the business law I and II courses and the journalism law and ethics class at the undergraduate level and the advanced law and ethics class at the graduate level. I have also taught several business courses and a course on ethics which I will teach again. I have taught 30 years overall and, at the end of this semester, will have completed my 21st year at MSC.
Q: How would you describe the changes that you have observed at Mesa State College the past 21 years?
A: It would almost be akin to tracing the evolutionary changes from the horse and buggy days to the present modes of transportation. They have been remarkable and significant. MSC is a school of which we can all be most proud and it is continuing to make giant strides.
Q: Both of your daughters attended Mesa State?
A: Yes, my youngest daughter Natalie (Santa Maria) attended MSC both her freshman and sophomore years. She was an All-American cheerleader both years and captain her sophomore year when the MSC cheerleading squad competed in Dallas, Texas, finishing third behind Baylor and Oklahoma State. That would have been during the school term 1990-1991. My oldest daughter, Lisa (Knudsen), took several summer courses at MSC while obtaining her undergraduate and graduate degrees at the University of San Diego. She also taught the Adams State College master’s in counseling program at Mesa State College for a number of years before teaching the program on-line.