Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Common Sense Prevails

I am a lawyer. In fact, I am a public defender. I am proud of what I do and I truly enjoy going to court every day. I think I get along with everyone well, we all know we have jobs to do. I also think that we have a very good court system, especially compared to other countries. Today, I was reminded why.

A defendant had been charged with resisting arrest and assault. He was found guilty. During the trial the police officer mentioned that the guy had a folding knife on him. He didn't make a big deal out of it, he just said it in passing. It was clear that the officer didn't think it was a big deal. The guy was convicted. But then, the prosecutor, during sentencing went on and on about the knife. The judge, who is the very epitome of New England wisdom, said the following in open court: "Look, if you would have charged him with the knife, that is one thing, but you didn't. He had a folding knife, so what? If I went to a boy scout camp, everyone would have a folding knife. Its not an issue."

The prosecutor was doing his job, he was pushing for an advantage, just as I would if I were him. But the judge saw through it. He saw that some people have a fear of knives, seeing them as a instruments of violence instead of tools of utility, and the thought he might have found a sympathetic ear. It could have worked. Some people would have bought the argument. So I perked up when I heard the claim, curious to see what would happen. And fortunately for those of us that like, carry, and use pocket knives, the judge saw it for what it was--just an argument.

More on knife etiquette later.

1 comment:

  1. The guy didn't use the knife as a weapon so whats the big deal? I'm all for seeing criminals put away but theres no reason to trump charges out of fear of a knife. What if he had a crescent wrench on him? Does it mean he would've used it to beat the guy with? There needs to be more judges like that.