Monday, March 20, 2017

I give you my child

Her hair is long, fiery red and curly, just as unmanageable as mine. She sits in front of me at the office, and tries to get the words that come out of her mouth to sound coherent, but her uninterrupted sobbing makes for a difficult conversation. Her 19 year old son sits next to her, addled between looking like a wanna-be bad-ass gang member and a scaredy cat looking at a 15-year prison term with a 7 year prison offer on the table.

We talk about the case, the evidence, the gang evidence, the gun used, the forensic evidence, ballistics, Gun Shot Residue, the "admission" signed by the client, the video showing the shooting, the field identification cards... We talk about his age, his lack of prior brush with law enforcement, his immigrant family and working parents. His successful siblings... and the path that this young punk has chosen.

"It's very simple", i say to this 19 year old whose innocent childish eyes betray the menacing facial hair covering his face. "i am not your mother. i don't have time for your excuses, or bullshit. Don't waste my time if you're not gonna listen to me. But if you want me to represent you, you gonna have to man up and do as i say. If you don't, i'll break your knee caps and will make you cry. This is the day you decide whether you gonna clean up your shit and say goodbye to the gangs, drugs and your street life or you gonna end up living in the shadows as a gang member. Which one is it??"

Before he has the time to answer, mom says: "I give you my son... please do what you can".

Nine months of fighting in Court, 9 months of motions, conferences and setting up a defense. 9 months of fighting the DA, and the best that we have on the table is a 3 year state prison offer.

In the meanwhile, he has enrolled and continuing with his college education. He has a full time job, and has moved to a better neighborhood outside of gang territory and lives with his girlfriend. He is dressed up in slacks and a sweater, and is clean shaven.

We can't take the offer. Prison will make him a full fledged gang member. I can't go to trial either. I will lose as i have no defense. I ask for a chamber conference with the Judge, and try to explain to the Court why he should be given a chance at probation so that he can eventually reduce his felonies and strikes and clean his record. I explain his immigrant parents. I explain the 19 year old's life. and i find myself welling up and becoming emotional.

"Your honor, i have a 19 year old" i say... "but for the grace of God, it could have been my child. Give him the chance to prove himself and yet the rope to hang himself. Give him the choice to redeem himself. I will stand by him and my office will provide him will all sorts of support services. Give him a probationary sentence. I will deliver a respectful member of the community to you".

My client pled open to the charges today. He faces a maximum of 15 years if he violates. But if he does well for the next 5 years, the court will reduce his felonies to misdemeanors, his strikes will fall by the wayside, and he'll be able to clean up his record.

He won't do any jail time. He won't do prison time. He will remain in school and finish his education and will become a fully integrated member of the community.

As we walk out of court, mom and dad and my client hug me and sob. I look at him and say: "Don't disappoint me" and i walk away unable to hold back my tears. My thoughts are with my own teen age sons. I thank you boys for teaching me love and patience, for making me understand life and teaching me the power of communication and forgiveness. I thank you for showing me the challenges of your generation and the avenues to deal with it. And most importantly, i thank you for making me a better mother so that i can be a better advocate for my clients...

And to you mothers out there who have trusted me with your teenagers. Thank you for sharing your kids with me and allowing me the opportunity to be a part of their wondrous life. I have hundreds of children out there, who have risen up to the challenge, and made exceptional members of the society from the wreckage of their arrests. Thank you for making my job an incredibly rewarding career....


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