Monday, December 12, 2005

Thank You For Defending Those People

Tried an ugly case last week, child abuse murder and neglect. The timing of the injuries locked my client and his girlfriend in as the only possible suspects and also determined that neither were ever really alone (out of the house) with the toddler. Both admitted to some of the injuries. The extent of the injuries made accident or momentary lapse a laughable defense, and both had told several stories about what happened, blaming others. The plea offer was 5 years under life, though LWOP was the maximum at trial. That risk seemed OK as the girlfriend had admitted (but later repudiated) causing the injury that killed her baby. (Thank you, Rule of Evidence 804(b)(3))

During my decompression time in the evenings, I worked on my Sunday school lesson. We happen to be doing the Servant Songs. I thought some about my place in the scheme of things, with regard to the facts of my case and the "how can you defend those people" question.

I did not hide my face from shame and spitting, for the Lord GOD will help me;
therefore I will not be disgraced; therefore I have set My face like a flint, and I know that I will not be ashamed.

He is near who justifies me; who will contend with me? Let us stand together. Who is my adversary? Let him come near me. Surely the Lord GOD will help me; Who is he who will condemn me? Indeed they will all grow old like a garment; the moth will eat them up.

Seeing it in print makes it seem so pretentious, but the idea of being criticized for a calling by people who don't understand the calling, or worse, by people who believe that such a calling is incompatible with being Christian really bothers me. Can't they read?

I also had a chance to think about the victim, who shared a name with the author of the songs. Parts of the fourth song hit close to home in that respect.
He was painfully abused, but he did not complain. He was silent like a lamb being led to the butcher, as quiet as a sheep having its wool cut off. He was condemned to death without a fair trial. Who could have imagined what would happen to him?
[A discussion about where Justice for the victim and Justice for my client meet needs to be saved for later. In short, I don't think one person can hold the two in equipoise, but God can, and lets us see /focus on only the things we are called to do. Just as all the religions are a bunch of blind men feeling the same elephant (God) we practitioners focus only on our particular parts of the Justice Elephant.]

But back to "how can you defend those people?" This was one of those cases where you would expect the general public to ask that question, and loudly. The jury's judgment came swift and harsh: 5 hours, 2 guilty findings, 2 life sentences. (No LWOP though.) A couple of jurors came up afterwards. One congratulated me on doing well with what I had to work with, but the other one really took the edge off my post-ass-whoopin' depression. She said how thankful she was that I was there, defending my client as best I could, because otherwise, our system of justice couldn't work and the U.S. wouldn't be the example to the world that it is.
But I'm still bitter enough to view both comments together as "Yes, you're a speed bump, but you're a vital speed bump."


Blogger Skelly said...

Thank G d for speed bumps...

12/12/2005 10:21 PM  

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