Thursday, December 28, 2006

Which Case is the Most Depressing?

So, I've had a recent spate of quite depressing cases lately. They are each depressing in their own way, and it's starting to overwhelm me a bit. Some of them are almost a Greek tragedy level of depressing, and some of them are just run-of-the-mill sad, but they are having a cumulative effect. And I do feel that, in this job, where I am only representing them on a particular criminal charge, I am extremely limited in what I can do to help each of them.

*The 13-year-old who allegedly raped his mother. I don't believe her story for a second, and I'm quite sure that CPS doesn't either, but that hasn't stopped the prosecutor from filing the case based on the flimsiest and most incompetent investigation I've seen of a sex crime in my life.

*The 17-year-old who allegedly assaulted her mother. By the way, the mother was convicted a year or so ago of "rendering criminal assistance," specifically of having arranged for a man to have all the sex with the girl (who was about 14 at the time) as he wanted.

*The 17-year-old who allegedly keeps selling drugs because it is the only way he feels he can provide for his family. And by family, I mean his mother, his baby, and his baby's mother.

*The 16-year-old who has been in and out of detention (mostly in) for various probation violations for my entire, albeit short, tenure here who just found out she is pregnant, and is determined to keep the baby.

*The 13-year-old charged with assaulting a staff member at his group home, where he lives because he had a "failed adoption," likely the result of his having virtually every behavioral disorder in the world from ADHD to reactive attachment disorder, and who has been previously charged with assault seven or eight times, always dismissed based on his incompetency.

Yeah, depressing. So, anyone got any feel-good, inspiring public defender stories to make me feel better?


Blogger Lisa said...

"Although the world is full of suffering,it is also full of the overcoming of it." - Helen Keller

I can't speak about being a public defender, because I don't have that title.

But, as someone who wants to improve the national foster care system, I have had days when I feel discouraged, as it sounds like you do today.

One thing that has helped me is a diagram with two circles, the smaller one inside the other.

Someone drew this for me once and said, "See, that small circle? That is your circle of influence."

Then, he pointed to the larger circle encompassing it and said, "See the larger circle? That is your circle of concern."

Because I, like you, have a circle of concern that is far larger than my circle of influence.

Then, he told me the secret,"If you are faithful within your circle of influence, you can create a ripple effect that can reach outward to touch your circle of concern."

Every day, I do something to help improve the foster system. Whether it's research or emails or letters of appreciation to journalist or letters to the editor about issues, etc.

I can't see the ripples now, and neither can you (probably).

But we are not working in a vacuum.

People involved in the civil rights movement and women's rights movement did not know at the time that their efforts would succeed.

They were just people, like us, fighting a battle for what they believed in,


1/02/2007 6:53 PM  

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