I can't unequivocally say that it makes me "happy", per se, to be in direct conversation with an Assistant US Attorney, for any reason whatever, but I'm now pretty sure that having done so in this case may well help my chances of getting my property back.
As of this morning, according to the AUSA assigned to the case (and the staffer cc:d to modify the paperwork), my deadline for filing a Claim on my property is now being extended to January 30, specifically so that said AUSA can respond in detail to my inquiries about the process, and give me time to file with confidence.
Needless to say, I was not expecting that.
I'll not feel good, exactly, until I actually have '03 in hand and 1911 on belt, but I will admit this does constitute better, and right now I'll take that.
Perhaps it's also a useful reminder of what my lovely wife has often said: that when institutions work at all, they usually do so because there are actual people there, trying to do what the institution is advertised to do--despite any amount of rules and incentives to the contrary.
Maybe--hopefully--that's what's happening here. I should remember that, for starters, they're not after me in the first place--their "case" is against someone else. (I may separately have strong suspicions about the morality or ethics of that case, but this does not seem the right hill for me to wage that on.) It's possible that the AUSA, in this case, may actually view me as a party they are trying to serve. As well, this seemed to me to be as good an opportunity as any for me to put my money where my mouth is, regarding approaching each individual politely and as an individual, regardless of what implications might be inferred by their job or associations. I did that honorably here, with just the same sort of presentation I'd do for anyone, and the response thus far has been as accommodating as I could hope for, from a such a party in such a position. (In that way, it has rather mirrored the direct-interface responses I've had from much of the officialdom I've had to navigate in the last year, given the as-yet-fruitless job hunting, wading through the healthcare morass, etc.: most of the institutional people I've approached directly, have openly commented their appreciation for the way I approached them.) So, maybe it's another good reminder that good manners still count for something, and might even be helpful. Even with Leviathan's functionaries.
Now we'll see how (hopefully how, not if) the clarifications shape up, and what that may suggest about what is to come next. Please keep fingers crossed; I'll continue to post what I can on it as it comes.