Public Defenders

As in my previous post, these thoughts come from working for an attorney who does some public defender work in our court system.

I've been questioned, and used to question it myself, how someone could defend the guy who really did it. Defend their sin? No. Defend their rights? Yes.  It's not about saying they didn't do it or that they don't deserve to be punished. It's about making sure they are treated fairly by our system - put in place for fairness - and that the course of action chosen, leads to something better in the future.

One of the criminal clients had a family member visit recently and talk to one of the attorneys. I tried not to listen, but I did catch things like - "That will give him hope;" "That will keep the end in sight;" "Then maybe he can get some help." That's what it's about. Our system is not just supposed to punish, but ideally it can help to rehabilitate and redeem.

Wouldn't you hope that when someone is released down the road, that some program or some kindness shown to them helps them be a better person? That is why everyone gets a lawyer appointed to them should the choose, and why criminals get defended.



Recently at work I've paid a bit more attention to some of the things that come across my desk. I don't like to read specifics. I like plausible deniability. But I often know what the general case is: criminal, abuse, divorce, immigration, bankruptcy, etc. One of the attorneys is a public defender and sees all kinds of things. Some of our clients are the victims and some are the accused perpetrators. There are some lessons that I have learned more fully while working for attorneys at law.

Divorce. It almost always comes down to selfishness. You can take almost any problem out there and some sort of selfishness is at the bottom of it. If we were all more selfless and charitable, so many problems would cease.

Immigration - needs reform. Oh. My. Gosh. Good grief. Help there please. I don't even know where to start. It's an expensive, sometimes ridiculous process. We need immigrants to do it legally, but for heaven's sake let's not keep it the seven ring circus it currently is. Oh, and if you want to be here, obeying the law is a good place to start.

Bankruptcy. Don't spend money you don't have. If you are doing fine and you loose your job or your company goes under, I am so glad there is a system in place to help you. Pay day loans are predatory and you can do without 90% of what you have if you are...wait for it....less selfish. Also - don't steal money people. 'nuff said.

Criminal and public defender. This world needs kindness. Pray for those who have situations in the courts of law. I hope I never need an attorney for more than finalizing an adoption. I'm so glad there are attorneys, but the needs can be varied and often very sad.

With all that said, when a new client or potential client walks in, I have no idea what their needs are, what the individual situation is, or on which side of the argument they stand. Maybe they are the crazy one, maybe they are dealing with the crazy one. But each person is human. Even the guy who did something he shouldn't. They are all loved of God, or at least in the beginning. Let's not get into child abuse. Ick.

I had one guy come in who looked like the 7-years-in-federal-prison-tattoed-guy that he was. However, he is nice. He has always been polite and respectful towards us. He and his wife are trying to start again and build something better. I don't know what he was in jail for. It's none of my business. He wore the scars of his 30 short years on his face. Literally. (By the way -don't tattoo your face. Please?) He's been a good hard worker trying to provide since his release. One day when he came in I looked at him and thought "when he was born, his parents had no idea which way he'd go. They  never would have hoped for such a life for their son." But things happen and plans go awry.

There are people whose burdens cannot be seen and some whose burdens are easily seen. Like the poor guy who filed bankruptcy and divorce in the same week, then sent in his brother, in the same situation. My heart goes out to them. What a rough hand they've been dealt. But God loves them. Thank goodness because at this point that may be all they have.

The bottom line here is don't judge a book by it's cover. Some names that have come across my desk I know or their relatives I know from outside of work and I had no idea they were even connected with a struggle. Sometimes they just need a smile. The brothers I referred to earlier? The first sent the second here because we were helpful and nice. Yay for that.

So you know that poster/meme/whatever going around that says everyone has a struggle we can't see? It's so true. Kindness won't solve the problem, but it will help those who are struggling to have that tiny bit of hope. And we need hope and love. Which is why I'm glad I work where I work. I hope through all this I'm learning better charity for God's children.

Thanks for listening.