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Tuesday, July 10, 2012

It is not my job...(part 3)

As you descend the stairs you can't help but roll your eyes and throw your head back in frustration.  The client you are going to see in the holding cell has a very bad temper and it seems he does his best to draw out your bad temper.  He has been arrested for domestic violence assault and, though he is determined the young lady is lying and will not show up to court, she is here-again.

"THAT BITCH IS LYING, I AIN'T HIT HER!!!"

"OK, help me prove she is lying.  Tell me what YOU think is going on."

"We were messing around, we used to go out and spend a lot of time together.  Then I found out she was married, her husband is a cop and he found out she was messing around on him.  He beat her ass and he's the one making her go through with these bullshit charges to 'prove' to him that she is done with me."

Sigh....

You go over the barely-there file you have been provided by the municipality that has brought charges against your client, convinced there is nothing you can do to help him.  Although he does not want to look at the "lies" the police heard from her and wrote down, you convince him that everything is important--EVERYTHING.  And that's when it happens......he takes a look at the date.

"I was in the hospital that day! The day she is saying she called the police because I beat her up, I was in the hospital and had been in the hospital!"

Well now you're cooking with grease!  Because the victim states she called the police the same day your client beat her up.  If he was in the hospital the day she called the police, then it stands to reason that he was in the hospital the day he "beat her up."

You request a continuance to obtain the documents necessary for your clients trial, obtain his signature on a medical release form, send it over to the hospital and you wait...

...and wait...

                   ...and wait...

It takes so long that you're convinced you've just been had by your client.  You should have just tried harder to convince him to take the plea.  You didn't believe him anyway, he is a feisty little angry man that you don't doubt can, and will, hit anyone.  Including a woman.  Not only do you not believe him, you don't even like him, not a little bit.  But here you are, convinced to do your futile best to "fight the system" and now you're about to get embarrassed because you went against your gut, went out on a limb and tried to verify the story of a client that makes you want to stab yourself in the eye with a long, dull, rusty nail.

Then you receive the medical records.  Before you catch yourself you find your clients words escaping your mouth: "That bitch IS lying!"  He WAS in the hospital.  That swarmy, angry, frustrating client of yours was telling you the truth.

I do not like all of my clients.  Truth be told, I don't care for the majority of them.  Most of them are inconsiderate of my time, demanding, entitled and just downright unpleasant.  But in the short 7 months I have been doing this job I have found that most of them react that way because they know the odds are stacked against them.  I don't doubt that they can tell their Public Defender (this second-class, "unpaid", "fake" lawyer that works for the state) was rolling their eyes and regretting the encounter they were about to have with their them. 

My experience with Mr. X just 3 short months ago has helped to alter the way I engage with my clients every since. 

I can like, love or despise my client.  It is not my job to do any of the aforementioned things.  But if I have resolved to remain a part of this machine for a little while longer, I must work to transform it.  Not be transformed by it.  It is not my job to like my clients.  It is not my job to believe them or judge them or bully them into taking a plea because they are too unpleasant to deal with.  It is my job to do everything I can to ensure that justice has been done.  Justice is not just for the "nice" and "considerate" people.  Justice is not reserved for those who are predisposed to having a sunny disposition and an optimistic take on life (and thank God for that because I would never be afforded justice if that was the criteria).  Justice is for the person.  Justice is for the nice person, the mean person, the person that smiles at everyone and the person that smiles at no one.  The Fifth Amendment states that No PERSON shall "be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law."  It is my job to ensure that No PERSON is deprived of their life, or their freedom without the state (or city) first providing proof beyond a reasonable doubt that the person committed the crime of which they have been accused.  Plain and simple as that. 

Until next time,

Be blessed, be careful, don't confess and don't consent.

~LT,

"Take thought in how other people perceive you, you never know when twelve of them may be deciding your fate." ~LT