Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Steanso just got some guy out of jail for an assault against his girlfriend when he already had a pending assault (possibly against this same girl- it's not clear). Steanso is not sure why the judge signed the bond, but the client's family brought money to Steanso to get client out of jail, so Steanso brought the bond to the judge, and lo and behold, the judge signed it. Steanso fervently, fervently hopes that this client does not go home and beat up his girlfriend again tonight.

I am totally slammed at work today. Maybe more later.


erin boyd said...

steanso is fully aware that the guy is going to assault the girl, or another one, again. steanso has yet to realize that steanso has no control over that fact, regardless of who's palm gets greased. steanso is a good person.

" To get rid of villains and knaves, it is necessary to give them a way out. If you don't give them any leeway at all, they will be like trapped rats. If every way out is closed to them, they will chew up everything good."

-Taoist Proverb

(yes i know that steanso might find this pretentious.)

J.S. said...

Steanso normally chooses to see himself as helping decent people out when they make bad mistakes, but every once in awhile Steanso is briefly haunted by the possibility that his house, his car, and his other worldly possessions may have been purchased by facilitating harm to others. Steanso largely tries to keep things in perspective by remembering all of the prosecutors out there who refuse to let self doubt regarding jailing innocent people slow them down as they zealously attempt to lock away every person that some half-witted cop has bothered to arrest.

p.s.- I liked the quote, and I do not find it pretentious. I offer a quote from my hard-assed first boss in response,
"If you want to make the omelette of justice, you gotta be ready to break a few eggs."

lee said...

As usual, Erin is correct. But I hear you brotha. When I was a prosecutor, it was just the reverse. What kept me up at night were the facts I didn't know. What if I had the facts wrong? What if the guy didn't do it, despite what the evidence indicated? I was good enough on my feet to get a conviction in a close case and I knew it. It didn't happen in every close case, but it did in some. Cases that could go either way were always unsettling in that way. A case that could turn on a single question, a single look, or a single statement. As you know, most of the cases are like shooting fish in a barrel for the prosecution. You're really just working out how much punishment is going to be handed out. Sometimes though, guilt or innocence really does land somewhere in the great unknown. I had two eyewitnesses and a victim to an assault identify the accused as the perpetrator of the assault and then admit to me, as I was walking into the courtroom (my hand was literally on the doorknob to the courtroom when one of them approached me) to deliver a my closing argument and admit tht they had perjured themselves on the stand. I dismissed the case and filed charges against the perjurers. Later, I saw one of the jurors and asked him what they would have done with the wrongly accused young man. "We were ready to convict him and put him away" was the reply. It wasn't my fault, but it still didn't feel all that good to be that close to a wrongful conviction.

I tried a child molestation case once. It had all the usual problems. No eye-witnesses. No physical evidence. Delayed reporting of events years gone by. A jilted teenager whose step-dad had divorced mom, repeatedly let down the girl and treated her poorly, giving her motive to lie. But when I met the girl and looked her in the eye, and she told me what her step-dad did to her, right there on the bed that I was sitting on, I believed her. I traveled across the country to talk to her teachers, her employer, her neighbors, her friends, her ex-boyfriend. They believed her, too. The judge presiding over the case later told me she was the most credible accuser in a child molestation case he'd ever seen in all his years on the bench.

I've never worked so hard on a case. The accused had no criminal record to speak of, but he did have some problems with telling the truth in years past that I uncovered in time to hammer him with when he took the stand in his own defense. Still, he held up well and was a good witness overall. Even aside from the charges, the trial was something of a spectacle, with two families present, both equally sure that the other was wrong and that they were the victim of a great injustice. One of them was absolutely right, of course. The jury acquitted after a lengthy trial. There were tears of joy and anger alike from the respective families when the verdict was read. I walked out of the courtroom knowing that I still believed the victim with everything I could muster, that the accused was financially devastated, embarassed, and probably professionally ruined no matter the verdict. But most of all, I knew that someone had lied, under oath, in a courtroom about something really, really awful and important. I just didn't know who. Not really. Not with certainty. And I never will. It is my prominent memory of the entire case.

Of course, you can say the same about every circumstantial, he-said, she-said case. But your hard-assed boss was right. It is an ugly business at times.

Still we shouldn't bitch too much. We make more than a living wage, with the potential to earn an obscene wage. Plenty of folks don't have the luxury of a job at all, much less one that affords them a moral dilemma every now and then.

J.S. said...

True, dat, brother Larry. Work is like the rest of life. To quote Douglas Coupland, "You must choose between pain and drudgery." Meaning to say, if I wasn't bitching about my angst-ridden moral choices I would probably be bitching about how boring and pointless my job is.