Tag Archives: crime

Criminals

“To err is human, to forgive divine.” Alexander Pope.

People screw up all the time, it’s in our nature. Now some people choose to not care and others pursue wrong-doing as a career choice…but what about everyday folk? As you read this, I would venture a guess that about 99% of you think you are “everyday folk.” Would you believe that everyday folk pay all my bills? They do, revenue from everyday folk keep my criminal defense practice afloat and provide me a nice living. We screw up small and we screw up large…and it is folks just like yourselves. So when you watch the evening news today…see if you can find yourself….then go one further, can you forgive? America can’t sit down to dinner thinking everything is wrapped up all tidy because the criminal was marched to jail.

“Judge not, lest thee be judged.” Jesus Christ

You might be willing to admit that you have driven home from a party “buzzed.” You might not be willing to admit that you were a hair’s breath from taking out a family of five at the intersection. My clients are young people with money in their pockets that steal make-up at Target. My clients are drunk professors that choose to drive home from the country club. My clients are bank managers that steal millions before their scheme is uncovered. Which of the three aforementioned is more of a criminal? Which one could you identify with if you knew the whole story? Which one did you quickly judge?

I have blogged before about mirroring….seeing yourself in the behavior of others….assimilating. For instance if you could see that I was born gay, that my thoughts were queer from about the age of four. It might be easier for you to give me equality under the law if you saw yourself in me. When was the last time you heard someone on the street corner yelling at a straight person….challenging that THEY were born straight? That’s a queer inquiry. Ask yourself why is that? Why did heteros criminalize homosexuality?

Screw ups are not born criminals…or are they? Are we? Did you drive 58 mph to work this morning? Well, that’s 3 miles per hour over the posted limit. Why did you do that? What’s that you say? That’s an acceptable breaking of the law. Whom among us makes that determination?

I talk to “normal” people in my office every week. They live otherwise “normal” lives, but an aberration occurred and a criminal charge was filed. I listen to the factors that preceded the criminal act. I assess the client before me. I explain the laws, procedures under the law, and possible outcomes to their predicament. They hand me money, and I begin to do my job. I do not judge…ever…even when severely tested, I have learned to work and not judge.

Some people belong in jail. Some people belong in jail for very long periods of time. I believe in punishment. I believe in humane punishment for those found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, in a court of law. With some clients I know that punishment is at the end of our relationship. My job is to protect the client’s rights and to get the best possible scenario for him/her concerning that punishment.

I layed that out for you because it is NOT what I want this blog to be about. Why do we screw up….why do we ALL screw up? Some get caught, some don’t….some think this blog doesn’t apply to them.

It is hard to go through your life and not commit a crime. If you just had the thought that you have done it thus far…I could prove you wrong in a ten minute conversation. You are a criminal. I am a criminal.

Maybe I want this blog to be about compassion. I don’t want you to be a bleeding heart liberal like I am, just a bit more compassionate.

They always give you the scenario where your daughter has been raped and killed. Could you kill her attacker with your bare hands? Sure you could, I will applaud you after you are finished. You are missing the point.

Start reading USA Today online and watching Brian Williams in the evening with a different slant. The soldier that took out 16 Afghans is your brother, your neighbor….he is you. Let’s agree that we are all humans and we are all criminals.

Compassion and reviewing the events preceding the criminal act will outline how to prevent the act from repeating. It will unfold in such a way a first-grader could understand it. Cause and effect.

I am not saying that given the same set of circumstances all humans will respond the same way….commit the same crime. I am saying that some humans will…it is up to the rest of us to do the work to ensure that there is no repeat cycle. It is in all of us. Why do we pull out of Iraq and some are already yelling to move on Iran. That didn’t surprise anyone…predictable. Will we allow it to happen?

People will always screw up. Basically because there are new ways to do it found every day. It is up to us to constantly be evolving, to recognize the predictors. It is up to us to mirror the actor and acknowledge he is closer to us, than not. You start to look down your nose and judge….nothing is ever going to stop. Let me know if you start to watch the TV news differently after reading this. Oh yeah, and watch your lead foot on the drive home today. You know that’s against the law…why do you do that?

One Round

The sound of the gunshot was so close with the whizzing noise past my head, it was hard to distinguish the two. A 9mm round traveling at about 900 feet per second blurred my perception. I looked to my right and saw the hole in the wall and then to my left and saw the exit hole out the front door of the police department. I was frozen in my tracks as I noticed the holes were about 6 foot from the ground, the same height as my head…the round had missed me by less than 6 inches.

Shift change briefing had occurred in the room next to where I was standing. Most of the officers had left the building to start patrol, but two remained. One was a grizzled veteran, a field training officer…the other man was a young rookie, 2 weeks out of the academy. I stood in silence and heard nothing from the adjoining room. I was half in shock, but half expecting to hear screams of pain, or a body drop…I heard neither. The two men were stunned as well…not wanting to exit the room and find the path of the one round fired. It was as pregnant a pause as I have ever experienced…then I was hit with a jolt of anger.

I turned the corner and hit the briefing room. I saw the two men standing as still as two statues…they looked incredulously in my direction. What the hell, I asked?? That almost hit my frigging head!! Some color returned to the rookie’s face as he profusely apologized to me. They had both been aware that I was standing in the front foyer of the department and had been sure that the round had hit me. Needless to say they were massively relieved that I now stood before them spouting a profanity laced diatribe like they had never heard before!

The training officer had asked the rookie to unload his pistol. They were training on tactical maneuvers to disarm a suspect. The rookie had removed the pistol’s clip, but had neglected to clear the round that was racked in and ready to go. The training officer had neglected to double-check the weapon before they began the exercise. It was very nearly a deadly training mistake. It was very close to being the last day on earth for me.

Both officers were spared termination, but received days off without pay and additional safety training. I didn’t want them fired…but the department would have been justified in letting them both go. Officer safety is your number one duty on the job…they had failed miserably on that particular day. The rookie in question worked the streets for several years before his life ended in a very tragic way. He was despondent over a lost love and fired that very same gun…one round into his head, killing himself.

One round can alter multiple lives and do it rather quickly. I tell this story today because I am grieving over a teenager that I did not know. Last week a 17-year-old honor student and member of his school’s orchestra drove home for lunch with his sister. They walked into their own home here in Fort Worth and interrupted a burglary. The sister ran out the back door as she heard just one round fired. Her brother was shot in the head and died the next day. A life senselessly snuffed out for 3 lap top computers….probably yielding a hundred bucks on the street or at a pawn shop. Life is cheap.

The young man’s funeral was today…he is no more….because of one round. This is not a blog about gun control. I am not against guns, I have a loaded one in my house ready to go as I write this. This is a blog about the time it takes for a small piece of metal traveling at 900 feet per second to enter a person’s body and end their life. That is quicker than you can snap your fingers. Think about how fragile an entity you are as you try to wrap yourself around that speed.

Ever look at a house fly that is bugging the crap out of you…just look at its carefree little life. He is oblivious to the fact that you are standing there with a rolled up newspaper in your hand….ready to snuff him out. That is exactly how precarious our life is too…that is the way I see it. We go about our daily lives not noticing the forces at work around us. We wouldn’t notice the rolled up newspaper either and I guess that is for the best.

Go out and live your life today for those that can’t…like that young broken-hearted rookie….or that outstanding young man who just wanted to have lunch with his sister. Accept the fragility of life and relish in it. You have one round here on earth…no one has ever proven any differently. One round to make your mark and experience the ups and downs of a life. That teenage boy will never get to marry his true love, father children, travel, or play the cello ever again. He did though have a great effect on his fellow students and friends. He was an Eagle Scout and was well respected by all who met him. He was loved by his family and his fellow church members. He did community service and was planning a religious mission.

The rookie and the teenager shared the first name of Eric. I honor their lives today, both left us much too soon. Whether measured in a micro-second or in 17 years, one round can make a difference.