Sunday, May 10, 2015

Mother's Day Juvenile Justice

The sound of laughter of my nephews and their cousins fills the backyard. The kids are clambering on top of the balls, the dogs running after the balls, the mothers after the toddlers, and my own boys engaged in a fierce battle of kick dodgeball. The men hover around the grill. One is doing the Kabob, the other the lobster tails. Another is in charge of pouring the drinks. The women, today, are seated. Mothers, mother in laws, sister in laws, all around. Edith Piaf is singing Padam Padam Padam on top of her lungs.

Pandora keeps getting interrupted. I walk over to the sound system thinking something is wrong with my phone, and i see that i have received a text from a client that i represented years ago. He wrote: "Ms. Kamran, on this mother's day, i wanted to let you know that i am thinking of you. You were like my 2nd mom. Here is a picture of my wife and newborn child. Thank you for not giving up on me when they wanted to throw me away in Juvenile hall."

I stood there for a minute, staring at the picture, and for the life of me, i could not remember the teen ager that he was, nor his case. All i was looking at was the picture of a handsome man in his late 20's. Was it that kid who was arrested for assault with a deadly weapon, a gun? or was it the kid who tried to smuggle 35 kilos of pot across the Mexican border? Was it the other kid who tried to beat up his dad with a tire iron when he learned that his dad wouldn't buy him new tires? or the one who got so drunk, drove a car and almost killed a pedestrian? Was it the tagger? the computer hack? the scoundrel who threatened to blow up his high school? or the kid who was selling oregano as weed? or maybe it was the one that used a stolen credit card for an all expense paid vacation in a Malibu hotel & Bar.

Padam Padam Padam....

i quickly catalog 23 years of criminal defense in my head, trying to identify this man... and the rolodex of pictures that flips in my head at a lightening speed, forces me to sit down. For 23 years, i have had the privilege of representing teen agers who, for one reason or another found themselves caught up in the teeth of the Juvenile Justice System for charges ranging from murder to bicycle theft. For 23 years i have spoken at temples and churches and high schools, giving seminars on Teenage Sex, Drugs and Alcohol.

All these years, my passion has been the convoluted and misunderstood lives of teen agers struggling with multi cultural assimilation, divorce and domestic violence. And every time, i have picked up a new juvenile case, i have learned a new lesson in love, in tolerance, in compassion, in understanding, in abundance and in forgiveness.

No child ever grows up with ambitions of becoming locked up in Juvenile hall. No child ever falls asleep at night hugging his Teddy Bear and chasing away the monsters under his bed dreaming of becoming an outlaw. We all want to be good. We all want to be successful. We all want to be happy. But we each make mistakes, and make bad choices, and sometimes, unfortunately go down a one way path. But a bad choice, does not a bad person make. It is however, the inability to learn from that one mistake in one's teenage years that distinguishes between the man who looks at himself in the mirror in his 30's and says: "shit, that was a close call", and the man who has to look up at the sky to find the horizon, because the prison walls block his views.

My attention quickly shifts over to my calendar tomorrow. My client sits in Juvenile hall. He is 16 and has the most gorgeous blue eyes i have seen in years. He is small, frail and this is his first brush with the law, and tomorrow we have a detention hearing on whether or not the Court will release him home pending his trial in Juvenile Court. The charges are serious. i want to believe that i can win the hearing tomorrow and bring him home to his dad. I want to believe that these past few days in Juvenile hall have given him a glimpse of what he NEVER ever wants to experience AGAIN. i am well aware of my limited capabilities, and know that my dreams and wishes do not have magical powers of making reality. But i also believe in the power of love and of compassion.


My inbox and my wall today are full of messages of gratitude and love from many of those Juveniles who are now men and women of valor. I know some of you who are reading this are the parents of those once teen-age clients of mine. And i know some of you ARE those once teenage clients of mine. On this Mother's day, i wish you well and i thank you for having given me the privilege of having represented you. I thank you for allowing me to play an integral role in your life and i hope that all that i have learned over the course of these past 23 years helps me tomorrow, as i take on yet another child as my own.

May 10, 2015
Mothers Day.
Lines, Rhymes and Internal Monologues:  Uncollected Writings.

Alaleh Kamran, Attorney at Law
A Professional Corporation
15760 Ventura Blvd, Suite 1010
Encino, Ca  91436
ph: 818-986-6222

Lecturer, Radio Host, Citizen Journalist, Blogger
Los Angeles