26 August 2004

Client's Parents

This post at Blonde Justice triggered numerous memories as to the bad interactions I have had with parents:

I've been practicing for a short time and it's the week prior to Christmas. Client has a show cause but has not bothered to come by and see me. Mom basically bullies Defendant into not continuing the case. The show cause goes badly (judge yells at me for not being prepared). Client goes to jail and when I get out in the hall Mom is all upset and yelling at me for ruining her Christmas.

Middle class family's little darling has been caught partying in a State park after hours. No marijuana was found on her person but co-defendant had it (the park ranger acted just a little too quickly). The park, like all the parks in this county, has signs all over the place prohibiting after hours occupation. It's a slam dunk for the prosecution who won't do anything to make it go away because of of problems they've been having out at the park. Guilty plea, $50 fine, case over, Client satisfied. Parents catch me out in the hall and tell me that this is going to ruin there little girl's chance of getting into college. They start asking me ridiculous questions about how close the sign had to be to the dirt road (Client drove past at least one very readable sign when she drove through a parking lot on the way to the dirt road). Then they start in on me as to why I didn't hire a private investigator for the case. Somewhere shortly after that I inform them that Client has ten days to appeal if she wants to and walk away.

Client's case was the last on the docket and his result was bad (can't remember the facts of it anymore). I stay in the courtroom after the judge leaves the courtroom to do some paperwork and talk to the clerk and deputies. Mom suddenly bursts in the back door and charges to the front yelling about what a terrible lawyer I am etc. By the time she gets to the front there are three deputies between her and me (remember folks, always be nice to the deputies). They escort her out and lock the courtroom so that she cannot come back in.

Client is caught stealing $200+ from a store (shoplifting electronics) and confesses. In the end, the prosecution will not reduce. On the day he is sentenced I am already feeling pretty crumby because I've just seen an 18 year old kid with no real record get marked for life. Mom is more than happy to pile on after I come out of the courtroom: "I want to thank you. He was my last child without a record and our hopes were all with him. Now you've ruined our family's last chance."

[caveat] Most families don't act like this. I get a lot of people who've seen so many family members go to jail that they just shrug it off. I get some criers. I get some who just shut down. However, nothing sticks in your memory more than those who yell at you.

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