There should be times in an attorney's professional life when he/she leaves court after handling a case and looks back with a sense of pride and fulfillment on what they accomplished. Today, I had one of those moments. It was not a big case, there was no media attention, nothing that would make or break my career. It was a probation violation in which a young girl had failed to complete her community service, pay fines and costs or complete her 3 day DUI program. She allowed this to go on for over two years with a warrant out for her arrest. She had numerous personal problems she had been dealing with and was not able to organize her life and resolve the underlying problems.
We showed up for Court in a jurisdiction that I do not normally practice in. The Judge before taking the bench asked his bailiff to call up a jailer, which was not a good sign. He called the case and we approached and began to make our arguments. We admitted to the probation violation and then began to attempt to inform the Court everything that was going on in this poor girl's life; and addiction to prescription medication, the loss of two children, the birth of a third who suffers from extreme asthma, a tumultuous divorce, post traumatic stress disorder and the list goes on. At the end of our pleas for help and leniency the Judge informed us that he was planning on re-imposing all of the time that he suspended but because of our impassioned argument he was persuaded otherwise. He ordered her to perform 3 days in the Driving Intervention Program over the next 30 days. After she completes the program he would take her off probation all together; no jail time. The sentence imposed did not mean much to that Judge but it meant the world to my client. After we walked out of Court she embraced her father who was there holding her 13 month old son. Sometimes it is the little things that we do that mean the most. My client told me after words that she had contacted 8 other lawyers and they had all told her she was going to jail for a long time. She told me that I was the only one who stopped and listened to her and gave her some hope.
It can be difficult but as lawyers let us try to always be compassionate and show empathy towards our clients. They come to us when they do not have anyone else who can help. Take the time to listen.