This is what I wrote May 6 –
“Do you see it? Can you tell me what color the sky is? I promise you she will bring that brand new baby into court with her. I guarantee she will use it to keep him out of jail.”
It was a case of aggravated domestic battery, of assault with a deadly weapon, with some misdemeanors piled on top. It had finally come to trial, more than a year after it happened and while I stood there, a giant bag of evidence containing the gun he put against her head and the knife he sliced her up with, victim and suspect came in together.
Yeah, it went downhill from there.
Finally, six weeks after the bullshit non-trial, sentencing happened a few days ago.
And, as I and everyone else had predicted, the victim came to court waving the new baby around. They pleaded with the judge that the batterer was the only one working, that he had two jobs including one as a wielder that he’d had for nearly a decade (though he substantiated neither job and his statement was at odds with his telling me he’d been unemployed for a while when I arrested him), that he was the glue holding the family together.
In other words, exactly what I wrote would happen.
But there was one tiny thing I didn’t see.
Just after getting out of jail, he apparently when to his other baby mama and got custody of his previous young daughter. So when he was in court, in other words, he had two kids to wave around.
Because of the presiding judge, whose track record with cases in which I’m involved is less than brilliant, I expected the batterer to get a few years probation, some anger counseling, and fines.
When the judge came back after a short recess, he started talking. And talked. And talked. While he’s an incredibly well-educated man, his bench speeches always remind me of the grown-ups in the ‘Peanuts’ cartoons. In a previous case I had in front of him, he leaned back in his chair, stared at the ceiling, clasped his hands over his stomach with forefingers up like a church steeple, and explained that he wasn’t going to issue a ruling that day. But after 30 minutes of convoluted logic, he issued a ruling.
In this case, he constantly harkened back to the batterer having two children to support and that made me a little crazy. I could see him working his way into no jail time.
I don’t have much of a poker face and I kept expecting either the State’s Attorney or the court security officer to box my ears and tell me to calm the hell down.
But then the judge did something surprising.
He did the right thing.
The State’s Attorney had asked for the maximum of six months in the county cross-bar hotel. The defense attorney had asked for zero jail time because of the jobs and children.
But the judge couldn’t square the circle. He couldn’t figure out how the batterer was unemployed for a while, according to his arrest statement, but employed for nine years according to his court statement.
And he kept coming back to the gun and knife.
It perturbed the judge that the batterer had put a gun against the victim’s head. It concerned him that the batterer had sliced open the victim’s belly and thigh.
So after 45 minutes, the judge sentenced the batterer to four months in jail. And because it was a violent domestic, he’ll have to serve the entire four months. There will be no good time. Four solid months.
Plus a few years’ worth of probation and some sort of anger counseling. And lots of fines and court costs.
Yeah, the victim will be there when he gets out and he absolutely will beat her again, I’ve no doubt. But for four months, anyway, he’ll be locked away. He won’t think about what he did, he won’t discover it was the wrong thing. He won’t make amends or even believe he has to.
But he will be locked away for 120 days.
It’s retribution rather than rehabilitation and I definitely believe in rehabilitation.
But sometimes, with some people, there is no rehab, there is only raising their cost of doing business.