Thursday, January 9, 2014

Defense cum judge

You know I read a lot of blawgs.  And we all write these expositions about how horrible things are and people being sentenced to outrageous sentences.  Etc.

But you know what we don't talk about?  How we come to loathe some people.  How some become so terrifying to us that we think they belong in prison.

Naturally, we do our duty and put them out on the street as soon as we can.  Any attorney that does otherwise should be lynched at the earliest opportunity.

But that doesn't mean we're inhuman.  We know evil.  Hell, we defend our clients from it every day.

In Idaho we have specialty courts that have panels containing slots for us.  And there are times when we gavel the loudest for the harshest punishment, because we know the population and we know how to "reach" them.  We know a slap on the wrist.  We know what the guy or gal will shake off.  And we also know it is in that person's best interest in the long run to take a good beating.

But if that person is your client that is in that program?  Well.  Shit.

Now imagine we become judge.  In Idaho, the toughest judges I know are all former defense attorneys.  The prosecutors don't like to stray from the law.  They are good to drug addicts, seeking rehabilitation.

Not us though.  We strike and we strike hard.  We remember.  We remember clients doing prison on the installment plan.  We have seen the client screw up every few months or years, going to hearings that end in another partial sanction, another year or so in custody, and then back out, to flop again.

Probation and Parole, in Idaho, is a fucking joke.  We have some damn good judges and prosecutors, and some damn evil ones.  But probation officers, as a group, designation, and governmental bureau, are worthless.  They are so bad that I hope to have one held in contempt next week.  And it may very well happen.

And that is where the defense judge begins his journey, coming from that experience.  He begins to see that all is smoke and mirror.  That help is nowhere to be found, that consequences must come from a harsh judge who is willing to speak the truth to the person in front of them.

And that is why we have to be so much better, as attorneys, facing those judges.  We have to be able to speak truth, or expect to be ignored.  But sometimes we can't find a good truth.  And sometimes the truth is that a client needs what the state won't provide, though it would be cheaper than prison.

So the defense judge and the defense attorney look each other in the eye and know, with a common bond, that the sentence will be arbitrary.  That it is a flip of the coin, the lunch the judge had, that will decide fate.

Why can't those moments always be in our favor as the Constitution clearly commands?

Because we know you.  Been with you through all of it and bled for you.  And sometimes, to save you, a judge truly believes you need a cage.

What a world, that while the gods feast, we mere mortals drag ourselves through the weary dust, born equal, to die alone, betrayed and broken by our brothers, questioning why we even bothered to wake up, much less go to work this morning.

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