Monday, June 06, 2005

Weird Day Today

Today I testified in the case made by the city against the young man that the police identified as one of my attackers. It was a strange experience for a couple of reasons.

First, (and everyone that has seen a single, lonely episode of Law and Order should have been prepared for this, although I inexplicably was not) the whole deal was very hostile. The DA was very hostile toward the defendant and the defense attorney was very hostile toward me. For example the attorney for the defense, in her closing said, “I even got the victim to admit that she didn’t even see the defendant!!” Touché and point! Except that I was not keeping the fact that I could identify NO ONE in the robbery a secret. In fact, the defendant was paraded in front of me on a street corner in is own neighborhood--schlepped out of the back of police paddy wagon in the pouring rain, held in hand-cuffs while I sat in the police car, “Is that him?? That’s who we saw running from you!” And, nope, I got nothing. So, the defense attorney was not, how shall I say?, the victorious stealthy word jouster she wished to think herself. And I, not the hostile victim trying to nail the bastard to the wall.

After the child was found guilty (he is 16 I think), the DA demanded that the there be a protective order, so that the kid, nor any of his family, could come near me or my home. I didn't request that and, to be honest, I thought it unnecessary—salt in the wound, I mean they got him and if he planned on coming after me, he already would have. He had my address for Christ’s sake. When the judge granted it, the DA turned and pointed to me sitting in the audience and said "Call 911 if he comes anywhere near you!"...oh the dramatics. Why act like the kid is a monster? A crazy experience.

The second reason the whole thing was weird…well, let me first say this, I wanna be a judge! So much fun! I get to decide, I get to pronounce, I get to be the final arbiter…weeee! Okay, that’s out there, now I can move on. The judge, in his infinite wisdom decided to give the kid a firm talking to about how “I grew up in the city. I know what it’s like. If you need money, steal a bike, sell some drugs…I can get that, I can understand that, but grabbing a woman, throwing her to the ground and stealing her purse??? What is wrong with you? What if she was your mother or sister and someone did that???” My mind is squirming in my head trying to make sense of this diatribe but I can’t make any sense out of it. I guess I’m supposed to feel good about it, right? I mean, take care of the ladies, treat us kindly-I’m down with that. Or maybe I’m being appreciated for the symbolic role I play in each and every family. Or maybe this guy was just telling this kid to sell drugs to the other kids in his community rather than bothering a nice lady like me?? He couldn’t have been. To be honest, I’d rather this kid steal my pocketbook than sell drugs to his friends, even if they do 'live on the other side of Broad Street.'

Okay, clearly bleeding-heart liberal. All I could think through the whole thing is, “Here’s our chance to save this kid, to steal him away and give him books and a yoohoo. Why is no one giving this kid a nice chocolate drink???”

The court case ended with a pronouncement of guilt and everyone dispersed. The police stopped me on my way out and asked me if they were going to see me on Friday, for the case of one of the two “adults” that jumped me and I said they would. They said it was important because these guys, after jumping me, in the same month, jumped two pizza guys and then shot and killed someone, the “trigger man” was already in jail. While walking out of the courthouse I thought how sad it was that the world is so hard and that a yoohoo really couldn’t have fixed everything for this kid.


Blogger SharonA said...

Newt Gingrich always says that every conservative is a liberal mugged by reality, or something along those lines.
Your empathy and thoughtfulness are inspirational.

6:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I so want to make a comment here... but, I'm very conflicted on how I feel about this. On the one hand, I'm always upset when someone I care about is hurt by someone. You want that person to be PUNISHED. But, on the other hand, kids should be given at least one chance to try to turn their lives around before they are turned into "career" criminals with a record. Perhaps he's already had those chances? If not I think some therapy would be more productive than a yoohoo or jail time. Most of these kids just don't have anyone who cares.

1:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

OK, I admit, I got this from People magazine, but I was home sick and people magazine is a real nice read if you're feeling under the weather ... but there was a story about how two boys got into a fight, and one killed the other because the punch to the head hit just the right spot ... really, an accident. With the deceased mother's permission, the boy who was convicted is serving jail time with community service - going out to area high schools to talk about his experience, talk about jail, talk about the importance of settling disputes without violence. The article some of the kids that had seen "the talk", and they were all moved by it. When someone is young, a teenager, and they can't be rehabilitated, we all lose.

I don't know what else to tell ya - keep in mind the cops and the judge see kids like your mugger almost every day, and have become cynical to kids like him. It's really too bad. I am glad that you are ok, and I hope that this kid gets some kind of help, SOMETHING, so he can see there are other possibilities for him too.

3:58 PM  
Blogger Aerenchyma said...

Huh, who'da thunk that I'd agree with Newt about anything? But then again, he's seeming more moderate in this age of egomanical conservatives...or should I really go that far?

kds-agreed, therapy would be helpful. I think the best thing that coud be exposed to this kid is what anon hit on...imparting the mere Idea (with a capital) of doing other than what he does...the IDEA of possibility. The tough part about that is figuring out what possibilities are really, truly available to him.

5:05 PM  

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