The Lab Results Are In - You're Dumb

Funny case in court the other night.

My client is a college kid. White, from the suburbs, wealthy family, good college. He and his friends get stopped for open containers. Officer asks for IDs so he can write the kids tickets. My client gives the officer his fake ID. Thereby proving that you can send a kid to college, but you can't make him smart.

(The kid's explanation? He said that he thought he couldn't get in trouble "just" for having an open container since it was in a paper bag! So, therefore, he must be in trouble for underage drinking, so showing the fake ID would get him out of trouble. Oh, of course.)

I don't know if it was a good thing or a bad thing, but this kid's ID was blatantly fake. I mean, it was something you could buy at a flea market that says "State College - Not a Valid ID" across the top. I mean, in a way, I guess it's better than if he went to DMV and got a real fake license.

Anyway, the officer arrests the kid for presenting a fake ID. The pre-arrest pat down search reveals a big bag of weed in kid's pocket. Oops.

So, I tell the kid that it doesn't look great. The DA's office is really cracking down on fake IDs, under the assumption that every fake ID is obtained to help sneak a terrorist into the country. Kid tells me to see what I can do - he's in a good college, his parents have money and can pay any fine, blah blah blah.

"Oh, and one more thing," he says, "my father's out in the audience. Can you let him know what's going on?"

This is one part of the job I hate. No, I don't really want to tell your father what you got arrested for so that he can tell me that his kid is perfect and it must've been a mistake. Although I guess it's not as bad as when a client asks me to call his girlfriend and tell her that he got arrested for picking up a hooker, and ask her to come post his bail.

Anyway, I ask the kid, "Does your father know what you were arrested for?"

And he says, "Yeah, well, he does... but don't mention the weed. He doesn't know that part."

I tell the kid, "Look, you'll be getting out of here soon. I'll tell your father that I talked to you, that you're ok, and that you'll be getting out soon. Anything else, I'll leave up to you."

Finally, kid's case gets called, and he's brought out from the jail cell in the back of the courtroom. The court officer reads the charges. There's a possibility that Daddy Warbucks in the audience doesn't hear the reading of the charges - the court officer reads quickly and the courtroom acoustics are terrible.

For all drug cases, the D.A. needs to supply the court with a lab report (showing that the drugs are actually drugs.) The D.A. says, among other things, "For the record, I'm filing a lab report with the court." Then the D.A. offers a truly spectacular offer - 2 days community service, no criminal record.

I quickly consult with client, and tell him he should jump on the offer. I don't think it's likely to be offered again, given the current crackdown on fake IDs. He agrees and accepts the offer. He's released and given instructions for the community service.

I leave the courtroom and go to another courtroom to do other cases. A little while later, I notice the father sitting in the courtroom, motioning that he wants to speak to me.

I go out into the hallway to talk to him. I tell him that his son will have to do 2 days community service and that he won't get a criminal record. I tell him that I think it's a great offer. Father says, "But I wanted to know about the lab. They said something about a lab."

Hmmm... how do I respond to this? Best to punt, I decide. "Well, maybe you could talk to your son about that."

And he tells me, "I did. I asked him about it and he said they gave him a blood test when he was arrested last night and he said that must've been the lab results. And I really want to protest this. I don't think they should be doing blood tests on people just because they had a fake ID! Who gives them the right? And what exactly are they going to do with those blood test results? His medical history is just out there for anyone to see? His DNA is going to go into a computer or something? They can just use it to plant his DNA at any crime scene?!?" This father continues shouting at me in the hallway of the courthouse about this insane idea that his son had been blood tested.

All I could think is "That little liar!"

Honestly, how do I get out of this one? So, finally, after I let him yell at me for way too long, I just said, "Sir, there was no blood test. You need to talk to your son." And I walked away.

Aarggh. That's why I hate representing the middle- and upper-class white kids from the suburbs. They're nothing but a pain.

In the light of day, it's kind of funny though. Of all the things he could come up with on the spot, this dumb kid came up with "They blood tested me at the police station." How bizarre!

6 comments:

  1. Just legalize weed and this all goes away.

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  2. Why, the kid would've been less stupid if he wasn't stoned? Then maybe he wouldn't have given his fake ID to the police.

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  3. Middle and upper-class kids? How in the world do they get a PD for these kind of low-grade misdemeanors? Or is your office tasked with blanket representation of these cases unless retained counsel shows up?

    Personally, I would have cut dad off the same way you did, but a lot earlier - like the second he raised his voice. I suspect Junior may just be starting his visits to the criminal courts if he doesn't get his head in order.

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  4. Yeah, we stay on a case until retained counsel shows up. Which sometimes means weeks and weeks of standing on a case while the judge says to our client "I told you to hire an attorney!" and our client makes some lame excuse that they can't afford it even though they make more money that the judge.

    As to the dad, I would've cut him off sooner (and I usually do cut off yellers sooner), but I just thought it was funny to hear everything he had to say. I just stood there smiling, trying not to laugh. Then, finally, the joke was on him.

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  5. Sounds like a drag. My county uses appointed counsel from a list of local attorneys willing to work for about $70/hr. If the judge (actually, the court administrator) determines you don't qualify, you don't get representation until you retain someone. No adjournments, no stays. . . .Really focuses the mind wonderfully. Of course, every now and then you get one who just won't. Then the fun really begins.

    What's even more fun is when a qualified indigent gets one of the top criminal defense attorenys in the area as appointed counsel and then gets the family to pool their resources to hire some out of town hack with a big ad in the yellow pages.

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  6. As to how middle class kids get court appointed counsel - I've seen more than one parent refuse to pay for their 18 year old kid to have a lawyer.

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