Thursday, June 14, 2012

A tale of two courtrooms

There she stood, in a line with the other jailed defendants pleading out their cases. She had just plead guilty to prostitution. The judge stopped and asked her if she knew who Ted Bundy was (as an aside, the chief prosecutor then pulled up Ted Bundy's page on Wikipedia).

He told her about Ted Bundy and what he did. He then told her about the Green River killer up in Washington and how he abducted and killed prostitutes and that since no one knew they were gone, no one knew to look for them. He told her how sadistic the killer was and what he did to the bodies.

Then he told the young lady that he wasn't trying to shame her. He said that he knew she had some stories about men she'd been with that would curl the hair on the back of his neck. He said he knew she had been raped before.

When he was done he told her that he had a daughter and that he saw his daughter in her. He told her to respect her body and he wished her luck when she was released.

He didn't try to humiliate her. He saw a young person who had made a mistake and he used the bench to try to help her.

Meanwhile, in another courtroom a judge looked at a young man accused of robbing a taco truck with a gun. He asked the young man for his plea and the young man said guilty. The young man's mother and sisters were sitting in the back of the courtroom. The judge told him to turn around and tell his family that he was robber. He did. One of his sisters began to cry. The judge ordered her out of the courtroom.

Then he told the young man to tell his family that he was the one with the gun. He did. His mother crossed her arms and started at the judge. The judge asked her if she believed her son was guilty. She told him she didn't and he ordered her out of the courtroom.

The judge announced that he would finish the plea later. Then he told the young man that he (the young man) was what was wrong with society. He castigated him for his actions. He called him a bad guy and he criticized his mother and sisters for not believing he was guilty.

One judge made a scene in order to get a point across to a young person who may very well have been standing at a crossroads in her life. He did what he could to try to save a life.

Another judge denigrated a young man standing before him accepting responsibility for his actions and humiliated his mother and sisters.

One judge cared about the fate of another. The other didn't give a shit.

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