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That's an incredible story.

I've often wondered what the legal system is really like, on the level of the largely-ignored trial courts. I hope you continue to post about your experiences.

Seth Abramson

A fantastic post.

They have "jump-out squads"--even a "Jump-Out Day" each week--in D.C. as well, as I learned while interning for the Georgetown Criminal Justice Clinic in 1996. [Here in New Hampshire, the equivalent is the "POP Squad," which stands for, quite comically I think, "Problem-Oriented Policing," and not, as you might otherwise suspect, "Petty Over-Policing"].

The story you told rings so true to me; few citizens ever have the opportunity to see the awesome spectacle of the entire might of the government directed at a single citizen, more often than not an under-educated, unsophisticated, workaday citizen with absolutely no knowledge of the law or his/her inalienable rights. I'll never forget one mild-mannered, soft-spoken gentleman I helped represent in D.C., a retired mechanic (on SSDI due to chronic arthritis) charged with shoplifting seven toothbrushes from a WalMart-like store. During his plea and sentencing hearing, his attorney reviewed with him (as I sat and looked on) all the rights he was giving up by pleading guilty instead of exercising his constitutional right to a trial.

After his attorney had finished explaining all his rights to him--it took a few minutes--he whispered to her in his soft, self-deprecating voice, "All that for seven toothbrushes?"

What a country this is, when it's at its best.

Especially when you the number of rights our society affords you as a citizen during the criminal process, even for "just" seven toothbrushes stolen from a major corporation--for whom toothbrushes are only a little more costly than a sheet of toilet paper.


Stephen Macklin

That's the kind of story that changes my entire outlook on the day. Thanks for sharing it.

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