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Thursday, March 21, 2013

Punching bag...

Today in court the judge was calling out the names of people on the docket who were currently in jail.  They call out these names for the attorney's before court gets started so the attorney can let the judge know whether their client needs to be brought over from the jail.  If you have reached a settlement agreement, spoken with your client about it and the agreement is ready to be placed on the record, they need to be brought over.  If you have received an offer, your client declined it, you made a counter-offer and the prosecution declined it and you are just telling the court your client's case is for trial, they need not be brought over.

I did not fall into either of these camps, my kid had already been granted youthful offender status.  He had already entered his plea and had been released.  Three months ago he tested positive for marijuana and then came to court in February and tested positive again.  The judge had him taken into custody and set a $500 cash bond.

Forty-one days later no one in my kids family had bothered to pay the cash bond that would have gotten him released in time for him not to lose his job.  Forty-one days later, no one in my kids family has called to find out if there is any other way to get him out of jail.  Forty-one days later no one in my kids family had even bothered to show up for his court date.

The judge calls my kids name and I announce that he does not need to be brought over from the jail but I would like to address the court about his release.  I advise the court that while my kid did test positive for marijuana he has been reporting to his probation officer regularly, he is not behind on his supervision fees, he is paying the court, not much but on a regular basis, he is working a full-time job and has not picked up any new charges.  The judge chooses this time to crack jokes about how expensive keeping up a marijuana habit is and he has a $500 cash bond that would get him released.  There is more banter back and forth between the judge and the assistant district attorney but I just stand there...

          Unimpressed...

                    Not laughing...

                              Not smiling...

                                        Waiting...........

Finally my judge says "is there anyone in his family out there?"

Me: No sir, no one from his family has ever been outside waiting to speak on his behalf.

Judge: You're just going to stand up there and take all his blows for him, huh?  I'm proud of you.

Me: Judge, since this case started he hasn't had anyone to stand by him but me. No one has ever been outside waiting to speak on his behalf. I am all he's got.

There was some more back and forth but eventually the judge decided to release my kid without posting a bond. 

There is a quote that is attributed to Clarence Darrow:
"To be an effective criminal defense counsel, an attorney must be prepared to be demanding, outrageous, irreverent, blasphemous, a rouge, a renegade, and a hated, isolated, and lonely person...few love a spokesman for the despised and the damned." 
If I can be so bold as to add to his words, I would venture to say that to be an effective criminal defense counsel, an attorney must be prepared to be a punching bag.  Our clients have been broken down so much, so often and by so many different people that allowing the system to do it is like standing by watching a man that is already beat down get kicked in the face.  I will not let you treat me like a punching bag too often, and I am not going to let you punch too hard, but for my clients I will stand in and let you get your few digs in.  The beauty of me standing in and getting beat in lieu of my clients....
....I possess the tools necessary to punch you back :-)

Until next time,

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

~LT