Santa Wears Both
Christmas in a small town is truly priceless and this year my holiday came early. The best gifts come in small packages and sometimes justice and laughter have no package at all.
I’ve been working on this case for more than a year. I can’t go into detail but it’s one that haunts me at night.
The long court process takes its toll on victims and officers. So often everyone arrives in court and nothing happens but setting a date for the next hearing. Explaining to victims that the wheels of justice turn slowly is never easy when my own frustration is at its limit.
In this specific case, the defendant has repeatedly changed attorneys and slowed the already sluggish process down. His latest attorney is a hot shot lawyer from the city. He’s nice enough outside the courtroom but thinks his big city antics have a place in Small Town. He’s written countless motions including his latest to suppress his client’s confession.
Everyone involved in the case was re-interviewed and the legal process continued, again.
There are things I do repeatedly throughout an investigation that make little sense to some and obviously made no sense to Mr. Hot Shot Attorney.
I read Miranda from a card in my wallet. I read it word for word. I know all the words, memorized them in the academy, and can probably recite them backwards but I never deviate from my tried and true methods. On the witness stand things get tense. If asked by the defense attorney if I read Miranda, I always reply, “Yes, from the card I carry in my wallet.” If asked to recite Miranda, I pull out my card.
I always re-read Miranda even if other officers tell me they’ve read it to the suspect. I take no chances and prefer to read mine in a recorded room. If I do read Miranda unrecorded, I re-read once I get to the interview room. Mr. Steamy Bullet Attorney decided to attack my practices. Unfortunately, he doesn’t understand justice in rural America.
I have a love/hate relationship with the judge. When he rules my way, I love him and when he doesn’t, I go home and call him names out of earshot from everyone but my dogs. I know who has the power and I’m not about to do anything around curious ears that may get me in judicial hot water down the line.
Judge Hoskiss and I go back to my very first case as a Detective. He’s mostly a cranky old man who sports a long grey beard. He’s “small town hick judge” personified and sometimes I want to scream, “But that’s not the way it’s done.” Seriously, America would have a huge problem with his courtroom. He’s known to let criminals out of jail before they go to prison in order to get their lives in order. Hmmm, years of prison, nothing to lose, let me count the problems. Well, there are so many I’ll eventually write another blog post about them.
So, the suppression hearing lasted three hours. Mr. Burning Ammo Attorney attacked everything he could about my Miranda procedures. Why would I read Miranda more than once? I must not have read it the first time, and so on. He was quite dramatic and the courtroom floor was obviously his stage. I on the other hand had a cold, coughed continually, and blew my runny nose. I had to ask him to repeat some of his questions because my loud sniffles overshadowed his voice. Seriously I wasn’t at my best. He used it all to make me appear like a stupid inept detective. By the time he finished, I actually felt like one.
It was finally time for the judge to make his ruling and I expected the worst.
Judge Hoskiss…“When I got dressed this morning I put on my belt and then I put on my suspenders. I wasn’t stupid or an idiot which you’ve tried quite hard to portray this hard working officer as. I just felt the need to be extra secure in my pants. Sometimes a belt and suspenders are called for on the same day. I rule in favor of the State.”
The gavel came down with a resounding thud and court adjourned. The judge left the bench and slowly from the back of the courtroom quiet snickers began. It continued to build and between sniffles and sneezes my giggles turned into full out laughter.
To everyone who carries a gun and Taser, nightstick and mace, wears a belt and suspenders, or just checks their list twice;