27 July 2004

Dies Mercurii

Wednesday: I spend the morning in traffic court. My first client is charged with driving on a suspended license and contempt of court (for not coming on his first court date). He has gotten his license and when I show that to the judge that charge gets changed to driving without a license (so that his license won’t be suspended by the conviction). The contempt charge is dismissed when Client tells the court he got his court dates mixed up.

The second client has three contempt charges (for not coming to court), one misdemeanor failure to appear (for not coming to court), and two show causes (one for not coming to court and one for not doing community service). All of this comes out of a minor in possession of alcohol charge from 3 years ago for which Client had not done his community service. If he’d come to court when he was first show caused there is almost no doubt that he’d have faced no jail time. The judge who initially sentenced him sentenced him to community service without even putting any suspended time or a suspended fine over his head. So, by dodging court for three years he has exposed himself to the possibility of a year and 30 days in jail. I get the failure to appear dismissed by the judge when I point out that my client had no notice of court for that particular date. Then the judge and I go back and forth for a little while trying to figure out the timeline for all the court dates missed. Finally the judge just decides that everything is from so far in the past that he is going to dismiss all the charges. Then the judge looks at the underlying charge and decides to dismiss it as well. The prosecutor just stands there looking kind of dumbstruck.

So I walk out of the courtroom looking like some sort of superhero because the judge took it upon himself to throw all that stuff out (even I’m not audacious enough to ask a judge to throw out that many easily proven charges). Client is ecstatic and as soon as I shake his hand and send him on his way another guy walks up and hires me on the spot. He’s only got a driving suspended charge and I handle that pretty quickly getting him some suspended jail time and a fine.

At 11 a.m. I have a bond hearing for one of my clients. Client has no place to live, no job, is a drug addict, was picked up for a second felony the day before his prelim on his first felony, has new charges in Richmond as well, and has no money to post any kind of bond. All this comes out in the hearing. Shockingly, the judge did not set a bond for Client.

In the afternoon a client has a sentencing hearing for felony leaving the scene of an accident. I’m a little nervous about this one because client went over the median, bounced off a couple cars, took off in his car, and a little further down the road was found parked drinking alcohol after the accident. Still, nobody was hurt and Client has already spent over six months in jail. The judge sentences him to 3 years with 2 ½ suspended and requires him to complete the Salvation Army rehab program.

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