I recently sat in on a new client interview that another attorney was conducting.
The potential client was a young man, 17 years old. The young man was wearing some kind of fancy polo shirt, probably from Abercrombie. And you could probably sell his jeans and buy a round of drinks for a whole bunch of public defenders. He was already on probation for one offense, had already had one probation violation, and had just been arrested with a new charge.
His father, who accompanied him, has some kind of upper class job and upper class life. Accountant or stock broker or something, if I had to guess. Probably drives a BMW or Mercedes or maybe a Porsche.
But I think Dad was genuinely concerned for his son. There really is a possibility that he could face a probation violation and go to jail, regardless of what happens on the new case. And I also think that Dad was genuinely perplexed about why his son continued to get in trouble.
Finally, the part of the interview came when the attorney talked about the legal fees involved in the case. Dad whipped out his check book and started writing without blinking. And as he wrote out the check, he said quietly to his son, "This is coming out of your allowance."
(Allowance? Really? Do 17 year-olds really get an allowance? I was shocked.)
But I was more shocked when the young man replied to his father, "Fuck you, dad, whatever."
Anyone here think Dad should still be perplexed about why this little brat keeps getting arrested? I can only hope, for his sake, that he's better behaved around his P.O. than around his own father.
But, the more that I thought about, the more I felt really bummed. I can think of so many public defender juvenile clients that I represented who would be elated to have a father who would show up to accompany them to a lawyer's office or to court or maybe just put food on the table, never mind buying them fancy clothes, giving them an allowance, or dropping a few thousand bucks on a lawyer. Maybe a father who could just give them a few bucks for bus fare, so that they wouldn't get arrested for fare evasion in the first place. It wouldn't take much.
I spent the rest of the day thinking these thoughts. Like some kind of Criminal Defense Lawyer Robin Hood. Like, maybe Wealthy Dad's money would've been better spent supporting The Fresh Air Fund and making his spoiled son get a job.
Or maybe Dad could've paid me the kids allowance a year ago and I could've taken this little ingrate on a jail visit and show him what his father is trying to help him avoid. My own little Blonde Justice Scared Straight program.
But mostly I just feel kind of sad and frustrated.