The Almighty Gavel

December 26, 2008 by The Constant Complainer

Welcome to the award winning blog of The Constant Complainer.

As most of you know, The Constant Complainer isn’t my full-time job.  Unfortunately, as much as I enjoy complaining, I still have to work to support my family.  Anyway, I mentioned that because today’s post was generated from a task that I had to do for work.

I work in risk management.  As a part of my job, on occasion, I may have to make an appearance in court.  This could happen, for example, if we have to prosecute a former employee.  With that being said, I was scheduled in court last week for a sentencing hearing.  If I wanted to attend the hearing, the notice told me to report at 8:30 a.m.

On this particular day, there were about 20 sentencing hearings scheduled at the same time.  That’s where this story gets interesting.  It has nothing to do with the reason I was there, but what was happening around me.

I was sitting in the courtroom and overheard the woman behind me sobbing.  It wasn’t any of my business, so I didn’t say anything at first.  But as she kept sobbing for what seemed like an hour, I finally looked back and noticed that she was there by herself.  So I asked her if she needed anything or if I could help her in some way.  She said she was there for the sentencing of her husband in a domestic matter and that she was supposed to give a statement against him, but had changed her mind.  She wanted to speak to a victim’s advocate, which I was able to locate for her.  The woman was told she didn’t have to give a statement if she didn’t want to, etc.

This woman continued to sob and finally her husband’s case was called.  This is a quick summary of what happened.  The judge asked the defense attorney if the defendant (the sobbing woman’s husband) had anything to say.  His defense attorney basically said: your honor, this man is a model citizen, he has been with this woman for 21 years, they have been married for 18, they have three children together, he is a good father, he has a full-time job and he has never had an issue with the law – with the exception of this one indiscretion.  The defense attorney said the man might be a good candidate for a probation program.  The judge asked the assistant district attorney if he had anything to add.  He deferred to the court on sentencing.  The judge then asked the assistant district attorney if the wife (the sobbing woman behind me) wanted to make a statement.  She stood and said she didn’t wish to make a statement.  Instead, the assistant district attorney said that the woman was divorcing her husband and that she didn’t wish him to be incarcerated, so they could work out their differences.

OK, I hope that wasn’t too confusing to follow.  So here I am sitting there thinking – this guy will probably get probation and maybe they can work this out.  Well – then the judge asked the defendant what he had to say.  His statement was basically – your honor, all my life I’ve been a law-abiding citizen, this has been hanging over my head for a year and a half, at this point I just want to be left alone.  The judge sentenced this guy to four years in prison.

After he pronounced sentencing, I hear the woman behind me say: “What just happened?”  The guy sitting behind me says: “They just sentenced that guy to four years in prison.”  OMG, then the sobbing started.  This lady was crying hysterically and couldn’t catch her breath.  They finally had to get a victim’s advocate to remove her from the courtroom.  Now hear is the kicker to the story.  I hear one of the court personnel say to the other, something like: I don’t know what she was upset about – if you had seen the police report or pictures, that guy should have gotten 50 years.

Apparently the husband beat this woman severely.  But here she is in court crying and carrying on – on his behalf.  That is what ticks me off and what I simply do not understand.  I realize they were together for 20+ years and have three kids together.  But a minor domestic indiscretion is much different than utterly pummeling someone or breaking bones.

I could easily write a few more posts, based on my observations from that day.  I won’t, but what I will tell you is this – I’m not sure how thrilled I am with our court system…

On another note, I don’t know how many of you have seen this tragic story from CA.  My heart goes out to the family of those who were killed.  It’s a shame how many domestic issues of increasing violence are appearing these days in the news.

All Posts / Family/Lifestyle / Law and Order Court / Divorce / Domestic Abuse / Domestic Issues /


  1. Maria Phelps says:

    Thank you for leaving a great comment on my site, I just thought I would check out your website- to my surprise it is about a domestic violence case, this is very sad-I recently read something on another site explaining the very thing you don’t understand, the very thing even I can’t fully wrap my head around. Why do women protect these men? One woman described it as “an evil spell” these man put over you, guilt you in to feeling sorry for them, as if they were the victims…its complex and I thought it was an interesting way to put it.

  2. Zig says:

    I am sorry to hear that you had to witness all of that.

    Now it may seem like the judge was being a little harsh. But, remember, he was just doing his job. I am not familiar with the case and wasn’t there, but I can probably guess why his punishment was so harsh. Mandatory minimum sentencing is the reason why his punishment seemed to be so harsh.

    The judge’s hands were tied. He has no real authority to skim through all the BS. The law just says if “Q” hit his wife, “Q” goes to jail for 4 years. Our judicial system is a joke. Judges no longer make rulings based on the circumstances of the defendant or facts of the case. Instead the “cookie cutter’ approach is used in every situation and sentencing. Judges are just like “bean counters” who make give the appearence that justice is being served! Remember that next time you go to the election booth!

    I don’t want to make this into a political discussion, but it was the repunklicans who came up with the idea of “Mandatory minimums.” And this “great idea” is why our jails are flled with nonviolent offenders, costing the taxpayers millions of dollars, who would be better served by outpatient counseling/treatment and behavior modification than jail time.

  3. Bambi Lover says:

    When I have followed certain cases, it has always seemed to me that the ones that should do away, don’t, and vice versa. I think you are right Zig.

  4. I feel like I have seen the same exact story before in a court room and in real life. People do not make sense all the time and it is hard to be in the women’s shoes as well. What a great observation and recount of what you witnessed. Thanks for the post.

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