Wednesday, April 16, 2008

CLIENTS: Continuing Human Tragedy

[NOTE: Look for my comments on today's contempt hearing in one week, after the dust settles]

I experienced a moment of mixed feelings today. On the one hand I worked out a plea arrangement for prison for a man who robbed a local department store. He used a fake gun, creating an immense amount of anxiety for the young cashier. This was not the first time for this defendant. He had two prior convictions for armed robbery and spent 11 years in prison for his last offense.

Here's the rub. Those prior convictions were 35 years ago. He was now 73 years of age, the oldest inmate in our local system. He had received a Bachelor's Degree from Northwestern. He was honorably discharged from the Air Force in the 1950's. He held jobs of eight years, then twelve in length. He had no drug or alcohol addictions that were noted and exibited no signs of mental illness. He was a father and grandfather. He was displaced by Katrina and used a toy gun in desperation because his daughter was in financial hardship.

A jury could not have given him probation. The punishment range was 2-20 years in prison. The prosecutor would not lower the charge.

Every day is an witness to irreversible human tragedy. People often appear to be perfect citizens, act with dignity, and follow the rules. Nevertheless, some of these folks veer off in unexplainable directions either from impulse that has been suppressed or a new found expression of frustration or value deficit. Thus the mystery of the human mind.

I don't know what happen to my aging client in making him decide this was an action worth taking, but the result of a two year sentence in prison will give him time to think about it.

1 comment:

TLB from WV said...

This is sad, but I know many fathers who would do the same. Perhaps he felt he's so old that he just didn't care anymore what happened to him? And I hate to say it, but I would take into account the fact that he didn't use a real gun.