Then why do I keep counting?

I have to stop reading the news; it only reminds me that the world is going straight to hell in an American-made handbasket. Exhibit A:

Since 2006, when the insurgency in Afghanistan sharply intensified, the Afghan government has been dependent on American logistics and military support in the war against Al Qaeda and the Taliban.

But to arm the Afghan forces that it hopes will lead this fight, the American military has relied since early last year on a fledgling company led by a 22-year-old man whose vice president was a licensed masseur.

Thank goodness that “war on terra” is going so well!

Closer to home, I recently lost a probation violation hearing where we were asking the court to excuse my client’s failure to complete her restitution payments by the end of her sentence because my client had made a good faith effort to pay. The law says that failure to pay restitution must be excused if you’ve made a good faith effort because your obligation to pay remains with you for life, the “victim” has civil remedies for collection, and the state can garnish wages and tax returns to ensure you complete your restitution regardless of whether you’re on probation. So we had testimony that my client has worked a low-wage job throughout probation, working 32-35 hours/wk, which is all the employer would give her. She paid about 20 out of 36 months, she moved her family to a cheaper apartment to save money, her husband was in jail through part of the time and so could not contribute to household expenses for her and her two kids, plus when he was out he had his own considerable restitution to pay in an unrelated matter, etc. Finally, we had evidence that during this period, creditors brought three separate collection actions against my client for debts she and her husband incurred prior to the time this restitution was ordered, so for most of the time she was supposed to pay restitution her wages were being garnished for other debts.

Of course, after all of this, the court said, “You could have tried harder! You have cable tv and your son has internet.’ (Testimony was that son pays for the internet himself.) “You should have sold your tv and skipped those luxuries to prioritize restitution.” The court revoked my client’s sentence and started it over again. Awesome. I have a suggestion: Why doesn’t my client stop paying rent and move into a shelter so that much more of her income can go to restitution! That would really be trying, wouldn’t it?

What else? Oh, I recently learned that two of my “favorite” judges have very interesting “pet peeves.” One of them says his pet peeve is lawyers who can’t control their clients and waste his time at hearings they are totally going to lose. Great, so we should just ignore the fact that even if this judge denies the motion, an appellate court might very well rule the other way? It sounds to me like he’s saying that attorneys making a record for appeal and/or fighting for every possible hope their clients might have are wasting his time and annoying him. This from a judge who also recently asked me in an off-the-record pre-trial status conference, “Why doesn’t your client just plead guilty?”

Another judge’s pet peeve was cross examination. “It takes too long and just repeats the state’s case, so why are you wasting my time?” (I’m obviously paraphrasing.) So the judge is saying that his pet peeve is the entire defense case!? How often do we end up going to trial w/nothing but cross to make our case!? I don’t believe this judge was ever a defense attorney and it’s pretty clear he never prepared a cross-examination of a key witness, yet I have to practice in front of him on a regular basis. Grrrrrrr!

The song on constant rotation these days is Why Do I Keep Counting by The Killers. I mean, really, if all of our days are numbered…??

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