Saturday, June 14, 2008

And justice for all

... rings the Metallica song. Last week, my introduction into the American justice system concluded in a conviction. Almost a year ago, my house had been broken into. The burglars had been caught red handed, at least 3 out of 4. Originally it was believed there were only 3 of them. The look-out guy (in a car) managed to escape. Luckily all items were recovered. As far as I was concerned, with exception of some damage to the fence and the inside door, the case was closed.

Not for the district attorney of course. He had a slam dunk case in front of him. Quickly two of the three burglars pleaded guilty and got a 1 year county jail sentence. Number 3 was a hard core case, a repeat offender. A trial was going to decide his fate. I was called as a witness ("Yes, that is my stuff; No, I did not give him permission to enter the house"). A trial date was set and postponed at least four times (due to unavailability of either the DA or the defense attorney). Luckily, I was allowed to be a standby witness which means that the DA will call you when you need to appear (and it is not required to be present in person every time).

Finally the trial was on. A jury was being selected. It was getting all a little close to my planned trip to Europe. I asked the DA what could be their possible defense. He explained for repeat offenders this is often the case - they want to postpone making a decision until the very end. Standing tough. The piper would play eventually: he cut his losses and agreed to a last minute plea bargain before the jury selection was completed. He will go 7 to 9 years to jail. What a fool - risking much of his life for a couple of toy walkie-talkies and my son's piggybank full of pennies.

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