02 December 2004

Day One


Only one trial today. It's a petit larceny of a $3.99 sandwich from a grocery store. The officer tells me that he saw my client and his girlfriend both carry sandwiches into the bathroom and then come out without sandwiches but with bulges under their clothes. Client goes up and pleads guilty and has no larceneys or felonies. I ask for advisement with an eye toward dismissal six months down the road after some community service and shoplifting classes. However, the judge has other ideas. He decides that my client should spend one night in jail, do 20 hours community service, and not have the charge dismissed from his record. It's a little harsh for a first offender. Client decides to appeal the decision so I have to go get a date set for circuit court and ask the judge to let his bond carry over for the appeal (he does).

The afternoon is made fun by a visit to Beaumont Juvenile Detention Center. Beaumont is where Virginia wharehouses the kids it has given up on. They are usually being held until they are 21. There are a lot of fights at Beaumont between the guards, teachers, &cetera and the "cadets." Prior to 18 years of age this leads to some punishment at the Detention Center. After the 18th birthday it leads to felony charges.

I have two clients to visit. First, they take me down to a gymnasium and lock me in without even the usual intercom to call the guard station. The room is depressing. The floor is a smooth and a dark concrete gray. It's maybe 2/3 the size of a basketball court. There's a very worn shuffleboard layout on it (though not in a way that would suggest the game is being played). There's a cheap, wooden basketball backboard and hoop to one side; the hoop has a net which only extends about 2" and the backboard has the square hand painted on it about a foot too high and off center. On one wall there are two pull up bars. The lighting is dark and chairs are scattered around the room in a manner which suggests that this is a storage room. All-in-all, it's a depressing. I sit there for over 1/2 a hour waiting for my client and finally a guard opens up the door and asks who I'm waiting for. When I tell him he gets the kid in about a minute. They'd simply forgotten I was there.

They bring the kid from class and don't have him cuffed or anything. The guards are being friendly with him as he comes down the hall. All of these are good signs at an institution where they don't trust their wards as far as they can heave them. I have my meeting with the kid and he heads back to class.

Then the guard informs me that they won't be bring Smith to me because he is in BM. BM? I instantly reject the meaning for those initials which comes to my mind (BM was the polite way at the house I grew up in to say "I gotta take a [number 2]"). They walk me over to the main guard control room and the guard stationed there tells me they have to get a roving guard to take me to the BM to meet my client. Seeing the confused look on my face the guard explains: "Behavioral Management." Oh, great. A guard comes to take me down there. As we're walking down the hall I ask if Smith had gotten into another fight. The answer: "Smith has been in a fight every day since he's been here." Oh great.

When we get to Behavioral Management the guard gets another guard and they go in. I'm left in the antechamber between the hallway and the general area off which each of the solitary confinement rooms is located. It's a small safety room with locks on both the door to the hallway and the door to the general area neither door to be opened when the other is (for those of you who are science fiction fans, picture an airlock). The guards grab a full set of shackles and head down to my client's cell. My client doesn't give them a whole lot of gaff (only complaining that the cuffs are too tight). However, the kid in the cell next to him is threatening to beat the crud out of the guard the whole time. He keeps trying to bait the guard into opening the door with threats of how he's gonna beat the guard down if he's man enough to open the door. He also makes numerous promises about what he's gonna do to the guard when he gets out of BM. For his part , the guard is giving it right back - promising that he will beat the kid down and then make sure charges are pressed against him. Finally, they finish preparing my client and bring him so the soap opera stops. My client is in with leg chains, a chain around his waist, and his hands chained to the waist chain. Then they leave and I meet with my client. After a robust and interesting meeting they take my client back and I leave Beaumont.


Windypundit said...

"After a robust and interesting meeting"?

Oh man, you have got to figure out a way to write about this stuff instead of taunting us this way. When it's all over, can you go back and get permission from the client to reveal some of it? Can you re-tell the story and hide the client's identity? How do lawyers write all these books?

Ken Lammers said...

I don't think this kid is going to give me permission (read the next day).