04 October 2005

Moments You Wish You Could Have Back

I'm at a show cause hearing for a client who has been reported by probation for not reporting in and not completing community service. It quickly becomes apparent that my adversary for the hearing is not the prosecutor, it's the judge. I call my client's mother and the prosecutor declines to cross her; the judge then spends 15 minutes going back and forth with her either (a) trying to discredit her testimony, or (b) trying to convince her that her daughter deserves to go to jail (not sure which exactly). He does the same thing when Client testifies.

Then comes argument. The prosecutor waives opening and I stand up and point out that much of the problem stems from the fact that Client lives at the far end of the next county over, has no phone, and cannot drive. I then point out that if we could get things transferred over to that county's probation office Client would be able to complete his responsibilities because Mom can drive him to something in the county. I also point out that Client got a good job a couple months back and has voluntarily entered drug treatment (despite the fact that she's never had a drug charge).

At this point the judge interrupts me and says, "That's all good counsel, but you need to tell me a reason I shouldn't send him to jail." Then I go off. I point out forcefully that this is a kid who is trying to get his life together and she'll lose her job if she's incarcerated and that we need to help her along the path. I ended with, " . . . and this Court would do well to help her along the path to recovery rather than just warehousing her at taxpayers' expense."

It was incredibly cathartic and satisfying and when I sat back down at the table I start kicking myself because I know it wasn't helpful for my client. The judge gave her 60 days in jail. I doubt I could have done anything to change how much time Client got (I think the judge had decided before we even started the hearing). Still, I'd like to have that minute or so back in order to try to - at the very least - make that argument a tad bit more tactfully.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Re: moment back - You beleived in your client and you let it show, sounds like you did the right thing. Tim