Tuesday, April 27, 2010

A very uncommon occurance...

I handle both juvenile and felony cases. Juvenile, because I absolutely love it. Felony, because I'm the senior attorney in the office. Very often the paths cross. Too often. Either I have parents of my juveniles in felony court, sometimes with the same charges. Or I have juveniles filed as adults. Either way, it is too often.

But the other day, I had an unusual occurrence. I was in felony court that day, covering a few cases. As I was headed back to court after lunch, I was approached, in the elevator, by a young man, not more than 18. He asked if I recognized him. He looked familiar but I couldn't give his face a name. He told me his name, and I immediately remembered him, but it had been a few years. I mentioned that it had been a while, and he informed me he had stayed out of trouble since I represented him in juvenile court. Naturally, I was curious...."Why are you in court today?" I was surprised at his response. "My dad is in trouble...again."

I thanked my lucky stars that this young man wasn't one of my clients, or that of one my colleagues. And I had to ask, "What changed?" His response? "I did."

Obviously that made me feel good. But searching for that elusive compliment that PD's so rarely get, I asked the next question. "Did I have anything to do with the change?" And expecting the normal response of "No, I just realized I didn't want to live that life anymore," I continued to walk to the courtroom. Imagine my surprised when he said "Yes." I stopped. Turned. Look him right in the eye. And asked, "Really?" He confirmed his answer. And said that I convinced him that he did not wanted to follow the road his father was. His father, who was never able to make the appointments in my office because he was in jail. His father who was now being sent to prison. Again.

I don't know what I said. But I hope the same words eventually come out of my mouth again. To another child, another young mind, about to be lost to the system.

Public Defender Revolution: THE POWER OF YEP!

One of the best blogs I've ever read....

Public Defender Revolution: THE POWER OF YEP!

Well, it's been a while....

I keep plugging along, and don't always keep up with things the way I should. Including keeping people who follow this "sometimes" blog informed.

I like to talk about my cases, but obviously have to be very careful about details. Not sure how the bosses would appreciate me posting things. But this case pissed me off.

Husband and wife charged with child neglect and placed on probation. Five kids, husband lost his job, two months behind on the rent, about to be evicted, electricity being turned off, in Florida, in August. Tried to transfer probation, but being given a hard time by the PO. Moved to a different county to live with a sister, without permission. Violated. Of course. It is Florida.

Wife admits. Private attorney. 48 months prison.

Husband still in jail. I tell him he has to fight it, or we can't appeal. I knew the outcome before the hearing. Found in violation. Sentenced to 48 months. Despite my arguments that he was put on probation, and told he didn't care for his children. He tries to care for his children and not accrue 5 more counts of child neglect for having kids living in a house with no electricity, no air, no water, in August, in Florida. Or the alternative, living in their van. Would have been charged for sure. He does what he has to do, and is told he is still wrong.

In this economy, jobs are so hard to come by. He had been a skilled professional. Lost his license because of the felony charge. Working in a restaurant. Wife caring for the kids. Had he been able to find a decent job, we wouldn't be discussing this case. But he couldn't. And now he, his wife, and his five children are being punished for it. In foster care, 4 different families in 2 counties. Husband is told he will very likely never get his children back if he is sentenced to more than a year.

At least it is all the record for the appeal.

It pisses me off. Where is the justice here?