16 July 2010

T'is Friday and we've had a rather quiet week with a minimum of out-of-town travel. No trials and the trial scheduled for Monday will not go. We had an offer from the County Attorney that my client could not refuse. He was charged with public intox 2nd and simple interference. It would have been an interesting trial. Drinking yes, but my client while drinking at an acquaintance's apartment was attacked by his acquaintance and struck in the head with a hammer. Evidently they had a disagreement over some rather, what seemed to them, nontrivial matter. In any event, my client stumbled down the stairs and out into the street where he was met by Newton police and told to stop. However, being somewhat dazed, he did not obey the officer, which in Newton, raises to a serious matter, and therefore arrested and charged with public intox and interference. The county attorney has decided to drop the public intox charge with a plea to the interference, a simple misdemeanor, with time served. My client, who is not unaccustomed to spending a few days in jail periodically has agreed to this resolution of the matter.

In Knoxville on Tuesday it was a somewhat different matter. Of my two cases, both are set for trial. Offers were made, and rather good ones, but were rejected by my clients. Whether that remains the situation as we approach trial is uncertain. Defendants have a propensity to change their minds as trial approaches. Trial scares them. In fact, it frightens them more than going to jail. At trial they must actually act as if they are a part of a larger society where people will form an opinion of them. They will be required to talk in front of people who will be looking at them and judging them. This is a psychological impasse for many who more than likely have been unable to do anything resembling this since they dropped out of school--an environment still focused more on self-esteem and low achievement than on producing people who can actually function in a group setting.

The objection I have to the attitude of the Knoxville county attorney's office is the same objection I have to many--simply because a charge is filed, the attorneys in the office insist that the defendant plead to something. Whether this is a vindication of the local police department or pressure from the local police department to affirm their arrests, I can't answer. But it occurs. When the plea offer is rejected, annoyance is immediately evident. In Knoxville, I was informed by the county attorney handling the case that she was not afraid to try cases and that she actually wins trials. I did not know how to respond. I should hope that both these assertions are true even though irrelevant.