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Tuesday, April 07, 2009

My Days In Court

I spent the last two days in and around courtrooms ... waiting. That’s mostly what you do in court. It gives me time to think about stuff. Here’s some of it.

Yesterday I did a pro bono day in Van Nuys, represented a girl (born in 1989) charged with the felony of possessing an access card, which she says belonged to her stepfather. Her mother supports her, says she’s doing well in rehab, no longer seeing her meth selling boyfriend. Another girl (born 1987) is charged with possession of heroin, which she says she was holding for her boyfriend. She wants drug rehab.

... What would it be like to be a public defender in Iran?

Imagine bargaining with the prosecutor:
"Fifty lashes? It’s a first offense. How about 20 lashes."
"Okay, 20 lashes ... and her left hand."

In our country, that could never happen...

Uh oh... What’s this in the L.A. Times?
An 18 year old boy with a 47 I.Q. sexually assaulted a 7 year old boy. The appointed defense attorney pled his client and sought probation. The jury sentenced him to 100 years in prison.

Oh, wait, that was not in this country ... it was in Texas.

Today, I was supposed to start a three day preliminary hearing in San Fernando.

The case stems from a turf dispute between gang members and residents of a drug rehab house in the neighborhood. The gang members had received complaints from their drug buyers that they had been robbed of the drugs by the druggies loitering around their rehab center.

After some negotiations between the parties, somebody got shot five times and ended up in a wheelchair.

I represent one of the three gang members charged ... the innocent one.

We had been ordered to appear in court this morning at 9 a.m. ready to go. Yesterday afternoon, I was informed that one of the lawyers wouldn’t be there until late in the morning or 1:30. So, there was no need for me to rush this morning. At 8:30, I called the court clerk. He told me I’d better get there at nine, because the judge was on the warpath.

I rushed, got there at 9. By 11 a.m, the third lawyer still hadn’t arrived. But the D.A. wasn’t ready either. Her "victim" failed to show up. She didn’t know where he was, hoped she could get him there tomorrow.

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