Court and the entire court process was probably worse than this jail time is going to be, but we'll have to see in the end. After I got out of jail, I called up the attorney that my wife's friend had recommended. His secretary said she would meet me with my wife's friend later on that night. She asked me to meet at Rio Bravo's, which was in the same area as the place I had been the night I was arrested. She said, "Have you met Karen, you're wife's friend?". I told her that I had, and she said, " Great. Look for Karen around 8:00. If I get there before she does, look for the blonde with the big boobs."
So I get to the bar, and Karen is seated at a round table with a blonde in a skin tight dress with, you guessed it, big boobs. I walked up and introduced myself, She told me her name, which I'll say was "Rebecca," and that they had just arrived minutes before I did. The watress walked up and asked if we'd like anything to drink. Karen and Rebecca ordered a margarita, I ordered a water. Rebecca asked if I didn't want a beer or something. For some reason I just didn't much feel like drinking while talking to a legal secretary about my DUI defense. Besides, I was on my motorcycle that night and I never drink anything when I'm on my bike.
We filled out a general information sheet and I ran through the process of telling them what happened that night. Rebecca told me I should've just taken the breath test and he would have let me go. She's probably right, but at the time, I was drawing on the advise of every legal council I've ever spoken with on the subject.
She told me how much the retainer would be and where the office was. They didn't accept credit cards, do I ended up getting a cash advance later and taking it to his office about a week or so later. When I dropped off the check, I spoke briefly with the attorney, who acted as if this would be no problem for him, who used to be a state prosecutor for years before retiring and going into his own practice. His connections were what sold me on him. He said he knew every lawyer in town, played golf with the new prosecutor, and was close friends with several of the judges.
(INMATE'S NOTE - After typing the next several paragraphs, my foot hit the switch on my computer's power supply, making me lose everything I had typed. Excuse me if I sound a little frustrated as I re-type this section, and always, ALWAYS save your work.) So I was feeling a little better about the situation, and my lawyer made it sound like I would probably get it thrown out on lack of evidence, or worst case scenario, I'd get driving while impared, pay a $150.00 fine and go on with life. My court date was set for the next week. My attorney went ahead and postponed the date a couple of months so he'd have time to make my case and talk to the D.A. and his judge friends about it.
Two months later, the phone rings, and it's the secretary of my lawyer. She tells me that he had a few concerns about my case and wanted to postpone it again. It seems the DA we were going up against was this new lady who had ice running through her veins and wanted nothing better than to see me get the full blown penalty for DUI second offense. To make things more peachy, the judge we were going to appear before was gone, and in his place was an equally cold judge. Things were looking a little troublesome. I was told to go to court the next day, and if my Attorney wasn't there, to go to the DA and ask for an extention.
So Here I go into court, dressed in my best suit, my hair was short and styled, and I had shaved clean for the occasion. Then again, I thought this would be my actual court date, not an attempt at postponing it again. I waited in line behind the other lawyers before the docket was called. One by one I heard them making plea bargains and trying to get their clients a sweeter deal, etc. On most of these, she wouldn't budge, so they'd postpone. When I got up there, she was under the impression I was a legal assistant from my attorney's office. I told her I wanted to postpone the date and she agreed and that was that. I would reappear in a couple more months.
So for a few more months, I went day in and day out with this feeling of impending doom hanging over my head like the biggest blaskest cloud ever. I really can't find a way to explain the dread that lie before me. If things went the wrong way, I would be incarserated for up to 45 days, and to make things worse, it would be just after the baby was born, compounding the problem since my wife would be out of work on maternity leave without pay, and trying to keep a 2 year old and a newborn at the same time. With no assistance from me. How in the world was I going to expect my family to stay afloat without me being able to help them or provide the money necessary to pay the bills and put food on the table? All of a sudden I hit a point of depression I had never felt before. Then, after over two months of pining over this dread, the day arrived.
I went into the courthouse dressed in my best suit, once again. My hair was a bit longer now, but still reasonably managed. I did shave again, making me look like an innocent youngster, which I thought couldn't hurt. I walked into the area outside the courtroom and began looking for my attorney. For about 20 minutes, I stood there, looking into the eyes of everyone in a suit, since I had only met my lawyer once and that was over 6 months ago. I met a guy who was there looking for the same lawyer, but his case was in another courtroom. He was facing a DUI as well, but he had passed out behind the wheel and wrecked his car. Thankfully no one was hurt. As we stood there talking, this pudgy, balding young guy walked up to us and asked our names. We told him, and he told us he was there in place of our attorney. Now the panic begins to set in.
It seems there was a mix up in the scheduling at his office, and our highly paid lawyer had gone to another county to represent another client and left us high and dry. In his place was this guy, who looked as confused as a stunned mullet.
We went into the courtroom, and he said my case didn't look very good. He said I was going to have to do the full sentence because of the fact that I passed out while driving a car and could've killed somebody. It took me about 1/100,000,000,000,000th of a second to tell him he had me confused with the other client. He fumbled with the paperwork a while, then got the arrest at hand confused with my prior conviction in the other backwoods county a few years ago, and I began to sweat. If this offense had happened in another county, why would I be standing in THIS courthouse in THIS county? And more importantly, why was I talking to THIS guy when I had paid a considerable amount of money for a lawyer who had a firm reputation in the county, and was respected by judges, District Attorneys, and judges alike? Up till now, I was dreading a worse case scenerio of 45 days in jail. Now I'm dreading the electric chair.
So Numbnuts and I walk to the front of the courtroom, where the ice cold District Attorney was seated at her little table, shaking her head over and over again as each lawyer tried unsuccessfully to make a deal. I sat and prayed that I wouldn't be punished for a crime I didn't commit. I guess on that perticular day, God wasn't taking requests.
Finally my Numbnuts-stand-in-wannabe-lawyer made his way to the table, leaned over, spoke quietly a few times, and she shook her head, shrugged her shoulders, and looked past him to signal to the next attorney that is was his turn. Numbnuts came back to me, looking like a deer in headlights. He apologised right off the bat. (Uh-oh) He said she wouldn't budge. (Uh-oh) He said I was going to have to plead guilty to DUI second offense, taking with it an $800.00 fine, loss of license for 2 years with no possibilityof a restricted work license, 45 days in jail with no possibility of work release, and an alcohol recovery program (inpatient or outpatient), 3 AA meetings a week for a year, and a year's probation. (Hell NO). I was PISSED!
I told him that I could have done the same thing without a lawyer and that he HAD to do better, or get my REAL lawyer in there RIGHT NOW. He said he'd let her see a few more people and angle for something else. Basically he was going up, asking if she'd drop it, she'd say no, and he'd say OK.
I was beginning to wonder if they wouldn't give me a lethal injection while I was sitting in the electric chair.
I was about beside myself as he and I went out into the lobby of the courthouse to have a little chit-chat. I told him again what I expected and how I felt I had wasted my money. If I was going to get the book thrown at me, I could've at least used that money to pay my fines and not have to worry about the financial implications. No. This sucks. This is NOT how it's going to go down. I told him he had to do better. I don't care what he tried or how he tried it, he WOULD do better. So he pulled his cell phone out of his pocket and walked over to a corner of the lobby. In a flash he was back, with about 6% confidence. He had called my attorney, and he had given him a pointer or two. So into the courtroom Numbnuts went, marching up to the D.A. like he had a pair. He waited in line for his turn at the D.A with ice for blood. He had the intensity of Droopy Dog and the stare of Eyore in the Hundred Acre Wood.
At this moment, this VERY moment, I knew I was screwed.
As soon as it was his turn to talk to the D.A., the court officer came out and said, "All Rise!". The judge was here. He stood at the front, told us to be seated, and began hearing the pre-arranged bargains. Meanwhile, Numbnuts is still trying to talk to the D.A., who was obviously annoyed because she was adressing the court at this time with another case altogether. I knew I had to do something. I went out to put change in the parking meter and chain smoke about three cigarettes. On the way back in, I saw the officer that arrested me. I spoke with him briefly explaining how I was about to burn in eternal hell for a crime I didn't commit.
Now, I don't know if miracles can happen inside a state building, but just then, his cold little heart warmed up about ¼° F. that may not be much, but it was more than Numbnuts could do.
The officer walked into the courtroom, and got the D.A.'s attention. He walked over during the court proceedings and whispered into her ear. She shook her head, nodded, and nodded again. He smiled. She smiled. I saw him mouth the words "Thanks You," and she nodded her head as he walked out of the courtroom through the side door only cops go in and out of. I'll never know ehat he said to her, but suddenly I felt really good about things.
And boy, oh, boy, was THAT ever short lived.
Numbnuts was called to the DA's desk, where she whispered into his ear. He smiled wide as the Grand Canyon, and held his head high as he walked back to me, like he had actually done a damn thing. He told me the charge would be reduced to a DUI first offense, with a $350.00 fine, one year loss of license with eligibility for a restricted work license, and 55 days in jail, with a work release program to allow me to go to work each day so my family would still have money. At this point, I figured this was as good as it was going to get, so Numbnuts and I approached the bench, and I agreed to the terms of this plea bargain. They allowed me to wait until Friday, February 4th, 2000 to report to jail. This would allow me time to get my paperwork in order to get the work release processed.
Now all I had to do was wait two weeks and then go away for two months.
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