Friday, November 9, 2012

An Unusual Thank You

One problem with the court system is its inefficiency.  Myself and other lawyers (not to mention defendants) sit in court for hours waiting for their case to be called and wasting time that could be spent on other projects.  It's been a problem for generations of lawyers and has yet to be solved.

But sometimes the waiting allows you to find that rare gem that really makes this job worth it.  It wasn't my case; I was merely a spectator.  But it went something like this.

The defendant stood next to her assigned attorney behind a long, dark wooden table to my left.  The prosecutor stood at the podium that separated two tables.  A probation officer and representative from the DWI court program stood behind the table to my right.  The defendant was being sentenced for a felony DWI - at least two DWIs in ten years.

The DWI court is a referral service for people with alcohol problems.  They receive individual and group counseling, random drug tests, and weekly court dates to monitor progress.  The representative announced how well the defendant was doing in the program and the probation officer concurred.  

The defendant's attorney said a few nice words on her behalf and then it was the defendant's turn to speak.  There are three types of statements a defendant usually says at sentencing: 1) nothing, 2) "I just want to apologize to my victims", or 3) how they no longer agree with the plea.  This female defendant turned to the people on her and my right.

"I just want to say thank you, your Honor.  Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to work with this team.  It is a wonderful team of professionals, and that's what they are professionals.  The prosecutor, the DWI program and probation officer.  I appreciate all of their efforts and thank them immensely for their help in getting me help.  I love my group and look forward to seeing all of them every week.  Thank you."

I rarely hear anyone thanking their attorneys for the work, let alone the staff who are helping to treat an illness.  And this might be the first time anyone has thanked a prosecutor.  We can now add a fourth type of statement.

1 comment:

  1. I wish I could have thanked the prosecutor in my case (seat belt charge!) Instead, I ended up accusing her of fraud before the court. . . nothing like this prosecutor, though: Heard of this one yet? Comments?