Court Contributes to Job Loss

“Every time I have to come to court I lose my job,” said a 39-year-old black male defendant to Judge Mora, right as his case was about to be adjourned. Though the defendant had been to court 15 times since July 27, 2018, for this case, the assistant district attorney had not yet made an offer. The defendant further remarked that it was very difficult for him to get a job because of his record.

“You have to follow the rules,” Judge Mora asserted, cutting off the defendant. The defendant desperately looked to his public defender and told him that he had just gotten a new job and needed the money. “You need to follow the rules,” Judge Mora firmly repeated. That was final. Judge Mora adjourned the case.

As the defendant exited the courtroom, he yelled, “They don’t’ care about anybody!” From what I’ve observed, he’s right.

Littering in the Court

“Bullshit case,” remarked a black male defendant as he walked out of the courtroom. I agree. The defendant was scheduled for an arraignment this morning for a littering charge. The city prosecutor made the offer of an ACD (Acquittal in Contemplation of Dismissal) if the defendant completed 15 hours of community service. The public defender rejected the offer. Judge Volkman adjourned the case for further proceedings next week. “Looks like no one likes me today,” remarked the city prosecutor after the defendant had exited the courtroom. Judge Volkman laughed. It strikes me that the prosecutor seemed aware of the absurdity of his offer. Is this justice? Justice for whom?

This is not the first time I’ve observed the city prosecutor make a questionable offer for a littering charge. A couple of weeks ago I sat in on another littering case. The defendant failed to appear for the court date. The city prosecutor requested that an arrest warrant be issued. Judge Mora waited a few seconds before laughing at the prospect. This was only the defendant’s second scheduled court day, and this person did not have any other charges or past convictions. However, after Judge Mora called out the prosecutor for the absurdity of his offer, he actually ended up issuing a bench warrant. While a bench warrant is a “lighter” response than an arrest warrant, I personally think a bench warrant is absurd under the circumstances.