I was in Bellflower Superior Court yesterday when a 30-something year old woman was taken into custody for failure to complete her batterer’s treatment program or anger-management classes. The public defender tried earnestly to appeal to the judge’s sympathies, explaining that the girl had suffered a pulmonary embolism and had not been working, so she couldn’t afford to pay for the classes. Yikes! A pulmonary embolism? People die from that! The woman did look healthy, but that certainly seemed like a reasonable excuse for being behind in court-ordered classes. The judge took a moment, flipped through the court file and finally said “if she wants to admit her probation violation, I’ll give her 120 days in jail.” 120 DAYS??? The injustice! How could the judge be so unforgiving? I mentally rallied to the girl’s side, until the judge sighed “counsel- she’s had FIVE years to get these classes done.” The woman took the 120 days.
This scenario is not uncommon. Walk into any Orange County criminal courtroom and you will undoubtedly see either someone with an excuse for having not performed some court-ordered obligation or being taken into custody for not performing some court-ordered obligation. This is a look at the most common (and most frustrating) excuses that judges and lawyers or attorneys hear and an explanation as to why they often fall on deaf ears.
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