20 July 2006

Some Days . . .

There are days you just cannot figure out what the judge is thinking and I've had a couple of them recently.

First, I have a client accused of cashing checks that bounced (each under $100). If the checks had been paid off he probably wouldn't have gotten much jail time. However, he hasn't paid anything. There are some pretty compelling reasons why, but the judge is not impressed and gives Client 6 months on each check (5 checks). That's extremely out of proportion, so I ask for an appeal bond because Client is going to appeal this to the circuit court for a de novo trial. The conversation that follows goes like this:
Me: Your Honor, we ask for the appeal bond to be the same as the pretrial bond of $500. Client is living in a shelter at the moment and you'll remember we have previously continued this case because he was in rehab from the accident and still needs medical treatment. He also has a child whom he needs to take care of.

Prosecutor: My concern is that he has failed to come to court before and won't come back if we let him out this time without giving the bondsman incentive to keep track of him. I'd ask for a $5,000 bond.

His Honor: I'm setting bond at $7,500.

And then there's another case in circuit court. Client has appealed her conviction in the general district court of misdemeanor possession with intent marijuana (small weight). In the district court she'd gotten 20 days and a 6 month license suspension; the judge refused to give her a restricted license or weekend time. She appealed to try to get these things in a de novo trial. We go before the court and she pleads guilty.
Me: Judge we're here today because Miss Smith needs a restricted license for work and needs to keep her job. We're just asking for the same sentence as the general district court imposed with those modifications.

Prosecutor: I don't think we should give her a restricted license with her driving record.

Judge (after looking at Client's rather hefty record): Mr. Lammers, she's not getting the same sentence as below. 12 months with 6 months suspended. License suspended for 6 months. I'll neither require nor forbid any of the Sheriff's jail programs - that's between her and the Sheriff.
What the heck is going on? Do the judges think I've gained some sort of hypnotic suasion over the prosecutors so that they cannot help themselves but must give my client deals which are far too good?

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