Tuesday, December 1, 2009

A Shower of Blessings


Just 17 years ago today, I decided - based on the honest encouragement of a friend of mine at the time - that showering regularly would be a good idea. And I've stuck to it.

Meanwhile, kudos to Judge John McKenna* of Anne Arundel County, Maryland, where I used to live. Once or twice in a blue moon, I like to visit courtrooms and watch cases. I happened to be in his neck of the woods today and had a few spare minutes, so I decided to drop by.

He was trying a young man who had been accused of violating his probation. The gentleman denied it, and they were preparing to set the case for trial later on when he could get an attorney. Judge McKenna looked down at his file, and saw something interesting. He had the bailiff pass it to the prosecutor, and asked him to read into the record what he saw.

The file showed a conviction for a prior offense - but no sentence. Hence, whatever might have happened at the original trial, as far as the record was concerned there was no probation for the defendant to have violated. In the law, if it isn't written, it didn't happen.

The judge's pithy assessment: "A judicial goof." He dismissed the case and the defendant walked free - free of jail time, free of legal bills and free of pending charges that would have complicated his imminent military enlistment.

Congratulations, Judge McKenna. Admitting you made a goof and then giving the other person the final benefit of the doubt makes me think more, not less, of you. Maybe more people in authority will follow your example - it makes all the difference in how much I respect them.

What do you think?

[*] FWIW, he also acquitted me on a traffic ticket a couple of years ago, when I was completely innocent anyway. Also, he and Emily are fellow law professors - though she doesn't know him personally.

1 comment:

Corrie Howe said...

I think that it was great of the judge to give benefit of the doubt. Ironic you should write about court today. I just finished a guest post about my five days as a juror for a murder trial. It will run next Thursday.

So there is hope that Jonathan will take a shower on a daily basis?