"Lawyer: An individual whose principal role is to protect his clients from others of his profession."-Anonymous

Monday, October 15, 2007

"But...He's a Good Father"

"Girl You Ought to Bash Mister's Head Open and Think About Heaven Later!" - Quote from The Color Purple

Those are the words that immediately popped into my mind after seeing her again. I was making my way out of the courtroom when she stopped me... The first thing, I noticed was the dark purple hue which encompassed her eye. "I want to help him,...how can I help him?"...says my former client.

Now everything inside me wants to scream those words to her...(words of wisdom, as I see it from my favorite flick) but I know I can't (besides the fact that I've actually grown fond of my license, I also know violence solves nothing), instead I say ..."You need to leave him."

She tells me he's a good father to their children, and its just her he has a problem with...I retort back..."but he beats you in front of your kids." She repeats herself.."It's just me, he just doesn't get along with me, what can I do to help him?" "Please, I want the charges dropped."

Now a few weeks earlier, I had picked her up on the Domestic calendar...she had just spent the weekend in jail. The two of them had ventured here from another state contemplating a relocation.

Well, unfortunately the weekend ended rather shortly with a bad mix of alcohol, an alleged scuffle and other various..."bad facts." Anyway, the police report alleges a passerby calls in the argument..."He" points to a scratch on his nose. "She" goes to jail.

"That's how things work up here"...I tell her, "you can't drop the charges like you can where you're from." The state is pressing the charges...not him." I get her background info. she has no record, the offer is to plead to misdemeanor, no contact, and the other typical conditions. I listen to her story...she has a good self defense claim. She's all of 5 foot 1, 115 lbs and He's 6'5 and a solid 250 lbs. He also has felony level domestic charges in the other state against her and an ex-girlfriend.

She tells me she's tired of the abusive relationship and she realizes he's not good for her...she's going to leave him and go back home to her father, besides she has a second job interview pending the next day.

She wants to get out...and get it over with. God, I hate that! I hate to see someone take a plea with a clean record...because they want to just get it over with. I managed to convince her to let me set it for a pretrial...and make a bail argument.

Incidentally the Judge on that day, was one of the more reasonable ones...I tell her she has a good shot, but I can't make any promises. I take my new found information and actually manage to convince the prosecutor to divert this charge AND not to seek a no contact order because they had young kids together and she needed to make arrangements for them.

I find myself actually agreeing with the prosecutor that a no contact order would probably be a good idea...but that's not what my client wants, so I argue against it.

She is released, her charges are diverted and she walks away with what I hoped was a new lease on life....flash forward three weeks and I'm staring at fresh black eye and learn that "He" has picked up a new strangulation charge against her of course (felony here) He's looking at real time in addition to the possible revocation on his out of state probation.

I'm looking at my pleading client, and for a few minutes I'm genuinely conflicted... I mean I've dealt with recanting spouses/significant others before and generally have no problem directing them to an investigator to take a statement and/ or referring them to the "victim advocate" and/or Prosecutor to give a recanting statement...but this time is different...she' s my client.

In the end I advise my colleague of her contact info. and her wish to recant. Its out of my hands.


Anonymous said...

Just want to say that I love your blog. It is so heartening to see a good person struggling to do the right thing.

Saxon_Cori said...

I bloody well HATE cases like that! Most "domestic abuse" cases involve 2 partners with the conflict resolution skills of 3 year olds... but you still get the occaisional manipulative mad dog like you client's man here.

Why do women like her keep going back to the Pit Bull? Or moving on, only to find another just like him?

And from the other side, why do so many prosecutors treat the average arm-grab, push, or hair-pull cases as if they were just as serious as your client's situation?

Some things are just beyond human ken, I guess...

The Bardd

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