Give me the pedophile. Please.

Posted: November 16, 2012 in jail
Tags: , , ,

“You know I can’t do that. You’re not qualified to deal with registered sex offenders. Plus you told me you didn’t want them, so why this one?” he asked.

“Your Honor, this one isn’t a pedophile and I told you THAT was who I didn’t want,” I said. “He’s just a kid…”

The judge raised his hand and leaned back in his chair. We were in his chambers at the end of a very long day for both of us.

“Ms. Lewis, I assure you I know the details of his case.”

“Stop doing that,” I said.

“Doing what?” he asked.

“Calling me Ms. Lewis. It makes me feel old. My name is Susan, so feel free to park all the PC crap with me and just talk to me,” I said.

He chuckled. “As you wish but only on one condition; you stop calling me ‘Your Honor,” he said and leaned forward. He was a nice man who had spent the last 15 years on the bench. He often saw the worst of people on a daily basis, but like many judges that I had met, he hadn’t given up hope. He kept trying to help people. He kept trying to find ways to uphold the law and maintain the humanity of it all.

He had a difficult job. I did not envy him.

“OK, fair enough. What should I call you then?”

“James,” he said.

“As in Bond?” I asked.

“Yes, just like him,” he said and laughed.

“OK, James, here’s the deal. I know you know the details of the case. So you know he’s just a kid and so was she. They had consensual sex but now he’s been convicted of rape, labeled as a sex offender and is now registered as one. This isn’t right….”

“It’s the law,” he said, sighed and rubbed his eyes. “The father cried rape and you know how it all turned out. He was over 18. She wasn’t. End of story,” he said.

This was bothering him but he wasn’t going to budge. He couldn’t. He had to uphold the law.

I did know how it all turned out, which was why I was in his chambers. I knew it was a hopeless battle, but I had promised the kid’s Dad that I would try. Maybe there was a way. The family was devastated. I knew them. They had run out of money fighting the case.

Justice should not depend on anyone’s pocket-book.

“The law is wrong,” I said more to myself than him.

“Then change it,” he snapped. “And until you do, you can’t have him. You can visit him, if you can get authorization, but he can’t be enrolled in your program and if you try, I guess I’ll see you back here, but for sentencing,” he said. A sly smile crossed his face.

“Would I have to wear the butt-ugly orange jumpsuits?” I asked.

“Yes and I’ll make sure you are cuffed,” he said and let out a belly laugh.

“That’s not funny,” I said.

“Yes it is. I swear it will just be a matter of time before you get brought up on charges for something. You just have to break the rules, don’t you?”

It wasn’t a matter of breaking rules or not. It was a matter of trying to do the right thing, regardless if it broke a rule or not.

I knew this meeting was a waste of his time and mine, but I couldn’t shake the idea that maybe if we just talked we could figure out something, anything, to fix what had happened. He was 18, she was 16 and it wasn’t rape. But the parents said it was and once they pressed charges, there was no stopping the machine. The trial had been a nightmare and he had been in jail for over a year awaiting trial. The girl protested the charges, but it didn’t matter. The DA took the case and ran with it.

I knew there wasn’t anything else to do. I felt a tear run down my face and it surprised me. I quickly wiped it away and hoped he hadn’t seen it.

He had. He leaned back and grabbed a tissue from the box of Kleenex on his credenza and handed it to me. I took it, wiped my eyes and stood up. I stuck out my hand to shake his. He came around his desk, shook my hand and gave me a gentle hug.

“Let me give you some advice, if I may,” he said.

I nodded my head. I was tired. I was fed-up.

“You’re in over your head on this, all of you. You and your friends are running in and out of Juvenile Hall. You’re getting people sent to you that you think you can help. I know your program works. None of the people I have sent to you have ever returned to my courtroom That’s why I keep sending them, but you can’t save everyone. Neither can I.”

“What’s your point, James?” I knew he was right but that didn’t mean I liked hearing it.

“Let this one go and work with who you can. You don’t get this one and even if you did, it won’t change a thing. He’s been sent away for a few years and nothing any of us say or do will ever change that. It’s done. Accept it.”

“I’m going to go home and have a drink. Or two, maybe,” I said as I picked-up my briefcase.

“Just don’t drive. Otherwise, I’ll be seeing you again, very soon. Keep your chin up kid.”

I thought about that for a moment as I walked towards the door. I turned around and looked at him.

“How do you keep your chin up?”

“I meet with hopelessly optimistic and somewhat wild women in my chambers from time to time,” he said and turned around and sat back down at his desk. He didn’t look up but I saw him smiling.

“Next time I’m here, wear the robe,” I said as I walked out and closed his door behind me.

I could hear his laughter as I walked down the hallway.

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Comments
  1. Beautiful, Susan. I have met with a number of judges such as him – judges who themselves had been involved in gangs or otherwise been miscreants and we work together as much as we can within the confines of the often misguided legal system. Bless you for telling these stories.

    • Susan Lewis says:

      Thanks!

      I loved working with judges. I found them so intelligent and caring.

      I could be a “judge groupie!”

      They REALLY appreciate people coming to them to talk and help.