Monday, June 6, 2011


This morning I spent two hours in the court room of one of the finest judges in our community. He is known for his fairness, his faith and his fast wit. The reason I was there was to be supportive of a young person who has had a difficult life and who was faced with a series of serious criminal charges.

One by one other people appeared before the judge. Some appeared in person and others appeared via closed circuit television. Each had their story and each made a plea before the judge.

After several of the cases, the judge asked questions from some of those who appeared before him

I marveled at the judge's candor and the way it disarmed those before the bar. I was amazed as he inquired about people's educational and family backgrounds. I was stunned by how easily and honestly the people responded to the judge's inquiries.

Finally, he paused as he concluded his questions of one of those who had been charged. It looked like the accused was heading toward a prison sentence. 

The judge looked at the young man and asked him, "Do you know the five factors I take into consideration when I prepare to sentence people who are guilty of crimes? The young man stood silent.

The judge spoke as he pointed to each finger on his left hand. What he said next was stunning. He said, "I consider a person's education, their employment, father involvement, drug usage, and mother involvement." 

It was amazing to me that the majority of those who appeared before the judge today were under-educated,  had no job or prospect of a job, there was little or no involvement of a father, there was drug addiction yet there was involvement of a mother. 

It was just like the judge said.

As I walked out of the court, I met an attorney who is a part of our community of faith. He asked me what I was doing in court. I told him why I was there and seemed to breathe a sigh of relief. We laughed and parted ways.

But I was still thinking about all of the people who stood before the judge. I wondered how the trajectory of their life story may have been different if they would have taken advantage of educational opportunities, if they were busy working, if they had both parents active in their life and if there were no drug or alcohol issues.

Something to think about....

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