Nine o'clock docket, I come into the courtroom and look around.
Mr. S is there, great.
Mr. C is there, great.
Well pluck a duck, Mr.F is not here. The judge has not taken the bench yet so let's go give Mr. F a call.
Me: Hello Mrs. F, this is Ms. PD, I am calling because your son, Mr. F has court this morning and he is not present.
Mrs. F: Ooooo, he's not going to be able to make it, he is down here in Florida, I do not think he knew about it.
Me: Ok, well, Mrs. F, the last time the three of us had a discussion about the fact that the only thing he has left to do in his case is pay his court costs and then he does not have to worry about coming to court anymore I confirmed his/your address and that is where I sent his letter.
Mrs. F: Ooooo, yeah. I was going to call you later this week to let you know we are going to start making payments on that next week.
Mrs. F: Hello? Ms. PD.
Me: Mrs. F please have Mr. F call me as soon as he gets in, have a great day.
I do not really hate mama's. I LOVE my mama. Both of my grandmothers were mama's. I myself, am a 'mama'. But mama's make my oh so easy job a lot less easy. Mr. F's case is eight years old. You read that correctly. 8, eight, EIGHT. His case was disposed of eight years ago and all he has left is court costs to pay and he will not have to come back to court. He has been picked up on outstanding warrants three times. For money. He has been held in a local Florida jail until he was brought back to our county two times. For money. He has spent weeks at a time separated from his kids. For money. Money which amounts to approximately $500.
That is $62.50 a year.
That is $5.21 a month.
That is $0.17 a day.
I understand that my client's (most of them anyway) are indigent. I get that a good majority of them would not choose me simply because I am in the public defender's office, yet they are stuck with me because their finances prevent them from hiring private counsel. I also know that Mr. F has a full-time job and two kids that he is raising. Those two kids have a mother who shares a household with Mr. F and she is also working. Even if they were NOT working the entire 8 years it is taking him to pay on this case, a pretty observant person can find SEVENTEEN CENTS A DAY!
So why am I on here sounding like a bad 'Feed the Children' commercial? What, pray tell, does this have to do with mama'? Mr. F has not paid his court costs because his mama has been holding his had the whole time trying to come up with a plan for him. His mama planned on using her income tax refund check to pay it off. His mama promised that when he received HIS income tax refund check she would ensure it was paid. His mama called me 3 times a day, EVERY day the last time he was a guest in the local county jail ensuring me that if the judge just let him out, this case would be paid and taken off of every one's list of active cases, four months ago. His mama has to be privy to every conversation Mr. F and I have.
I get mothers being there for their children. Sadly, quite a few of my clients show up over and over again for meetings with me or court dockets and their mothers could give two ships about where they are or what they are going through. But when mama's "help" is making matters worse...well, as I said, just making my oh so easy job a lot less easy.
I met with a client today. I asked him to come in for one of our very brief initial meetings so I could explain to him what an arraignment is, where he can expect his case to go from here and to remind him that should any of his contact information change, I need to be notified.
Of course, as I am pulling up his electronic file our case management system decides to go on break and takes its sweet time loading. In an attempt to kill some of the silence between us, I confirm with my client that he has done his initial interview ('yes', but I already knew that). I ask him who did his initial interview (it doesn't matter and I already know that too) and his response causes me to pause:
Client: I didn't catch his name but he was a really nice, young looking colored fella...
Me: Oh, you mean he was black?
Client: yes ma'am.
Did I mention my client is 42? Not that him being older would excuse his improper description of one of our investigation interns, but at least I could chalk it up to him being raised during a time when that was how black people were described. We finished the paperwork, he shook my hand, we exchanged pleasantries about it being nice to meet one another and he went on his way.
There really was not a point to that last one. Well, maybe except that I hate the term 'colored'.
If I had not given up drinking, these last two weeks would make Seagram's stock go up drastically...sigh....until next time my precious people.
Until next time,
Be blessed, be careful, don't confess and don't consent.