The rantings of a Public Defender constantly fighting against society's pervasive Police Industrial Complex. Enjoy the unique perspective of one whose life's work is to fight the system through the system.

Thursday, April 15, 2004

An anecdote.

No greater meaning here, just a typical day on the job. I represented a client who was charged with violating his probation for coke sales by a variety of sundry actions: being convicted of misdemeanor petty theft, not reporting to probation, not making any real attempts to get a job, using pot. Nothing that big, but enough, considering a prior probation violation where the Judge reinstated probation, for the Judge to announce he wasn't going to reinstate probation again.

Interestingly, while I didn't represent him on his case when he was originally fighting it (that lawyer has been subsequently transferred), I actually stood in for that lawyer for sentencing, where I handed him his terms and conditions of probation and warned him he faced 5 years if he violated, even for something as small as not reporting to probation. How did I remember? Well, I write it down on the file at the time, that's how.

So how does my client react to the news that the Judge won't reinstate probation, but indicates a 3 year prison sentence (instead of the 4 or 5 he could've imposed)? Angrily, of course. He constantly accused "us all" (including me) of trying to send him to the joint for no reason. He got angry at me for not working for him, and said that I just wanted him to go away for nothing. He was loud, surly, complaining to everyone in the area who would listen (few had a choice about whether to listen, they couldn't ignore him). In the end, of course, he took the 3 years rather than have a hearing and face 5 years. But not before accusing me of all sorts of complicity with the cops, DA, courts and a sundry list of other groups trying to send young black men to the joint for no reason at all. Finally, exasperated at one point, I asked the nearby bailiff for her keys so I could release him right now and let him go home, where he obviously deserved to be. Of course, she didn't give them to me. So I asked the client whether I should kick her ass and take them from her?

I don't think he appreciated the humor.

Just another day in the life. Not every case is a romantic murder case.


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