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Friday, April 10, 2009

Suddenly ..

Friday afternoon and it is finally done ... almost.

Four days in court, trying to concentrate on testimony, shuffling reports and notes. The back hurts, the mind is numb, but it will be done soon. The judge is finishing his long expected rulings, denying all the defense motions, ordering the case to go on to the next stage.

Suddenly, one of the defendants springs from his chair to which he is handcuffed trying to cross the edge of the counsel table, cursing and lunging toward the investigating officer who sits next to the D.A.

The bailiff pounces on the guy and presses his body to the carpet in the well between the judge’s bench and the table in front of me. In a few seconds, we all back away from the table, bailiffs appear from nowhere, five of them then four or five more.

The other two defendants, including my client, who’s been sitting quietly, handcuffed to his own chair next to me, are held in place by three or four bailiffs.

The reasons for the outburst are pretty clear. When he was arrested after shooting someone, the defendant had eventually fingered his homie, one of the other defendants but only after the detective had promised him that he would not disclose the fact that he had "snitched" in his report. The cop had kept his word. No names were in the report. But when it came to the court hearing, he had to relate the names. That apparently offended the defendant’s sense of ethics. It is okay to finger your homies, as long as you’re not labeled a rat.

I was glad his rage wasn’t directed toward his his lawyer, who is a friend of mine. Though rare, I know of at least three incidents where friends have been attacked by their own clients in court. One had his nose slashed with a razor blade. For a while, it seemed to be a trend to attack your public defender in order to try to get a continuance of your case or to change lawyers.

We used to call it a "Rucker motion", named after Ed Rucker who was the first recipient of a client’s right cross.

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