caminante haciendo camino
prosecutor or high school counselor?
2004-10-27 | 8:56 p.m.

I've spent the past two days in outlying justice courts in Podunk, Arizona who the hell even knew that we had towns named Mayer, Bagdad,Yarnell, and Seligman??? I didn't have to do the trials (although I cheered on a colleague as she got a guilty verdict on a skum-bag with huge arms who thought it was fun to beat up on his 115 pound wife!).

But I did do many of the pre-trial conferences -- everything from commercial trucking violations, to excessive speed, to dog at large citations, to domestic violence, DUIs, and possession of marijuana/drug paraphernalia.

Many of these defendants (especially those on the possession charges) are young (barely 18), some are still in HS, some have dropped out, most of them come from poor homes with (at best) only one parent around. And I quickly learned that about half the job is being a counselor to these kids...Are you staying in school? Still hangin' out with the troublemaker you were with when you got in trouble? What's your plan for after HS? Job? How about community college? Etc., etc., etc. I figure, if the defendant doesn't have a huge history of trouble, and he/she is being honest with me, and is willing to do *something* (stay in school, go to counseling, pinky swear that you won't run with the same crowd...whatever), then I'm willing to reduce charges or even dismiss the charges.

Even the "adults" (and believe me, I use the term "adult" very loosely when referring to about 95% of the defendants who come through justice court) require more counseling than anything else. A dog at large defendant, for example...how many animals do you have? do you have adequate space for your animals? how are they kept? show me pictures, I want to make sure they're well taken care of... have you spayed/neutered? if not, do it and I might drop the charges...etc., etc.

Don't get me wrong, I didn't spend the past two days holding all their hands ... I met with several assholes who are just beyond help.

But, really, a lot of the job is trying to steer these folks in the right direction. And, even though I didn't really anticipate that, I think I'm going to like that aspect of the job as much, if not more, than I'm going to enjoy coming down like a sledgehammer on those assholes who are beyond help.


Listening To: The West Wing
Reading: diaries
Feeling: satisfied

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