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by Peter Moskos

December 10, 2014

The Courts

Did I mention I met Sgt. Plantinga last time I was in San Francisco? Good guy. He bought me lunch.

Here's the last (for now) from Plantinga's 400 Things Cops Know: Street-Smart Lessons from a Veteran Patrolman:
You won’t feel sorry for many defendants. You figure they probably committed a dozen crimes before they finally got caught for this one. But it can give you a moment of pause when you’re subpoenaed for court and you look around to see how few people have shown up to support the defendant in his criminal trial. Sometimes it’s just one. An elderly woman, the defendant’s grandmother perhaps, who appears interested in the proceedings but a little disoriented. Then when that woman gets up and leaves, you realize that she wasn’t the grandmother, just some old lady who realized she was in the wrong court room. Back down to zero. The defendant may have gone through life largely alone and is now being sent to prison alone. If I ever got arrested, my friends, extended family, junior high art teacher and every member of the Polecats--my elementary school T-ball team--would show up with supportive banners and character references and exculpatory evidence. It is yet another difference between the haves and the have-nots.

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