Today is my first time appearing at Juvenile Court.
Juvenile Court or “Juvie”, as some in-crowd criminal defense attorneys call it, is different than a regular courtroom. This one especially is a trip… it’s next to a golf course and looks like an elementary school, with its inside walls painted with random happy pictures and encouraging phrases such as “Sky is the limit”… a last failed attempt at reversing the direction of their lives — these kids — who have started to get into trouble. God forbid if we make juvie court look scary to them…in fact, we have made an enjoyable experience. Except of course, there are the metal detectors at the entry, but I hear some schools have them too these days too!?
The courtrooms are like small classrooms with minimal formalities. There is some soft but annoying music playing in the background in the hallway, while the police, public defenders, and bailifs walk around and go about their daily business….
My client is a 14-year-old girl who was charged with assault and battery, and witness intimidation. She shows up with her mom. Both seem nice. Some high school incident. The district attorney asks that she would not have any contact with the “vicitim” while her court proceedings are pending. She tells me later the victim had gone on her MySpace page and had asked her to be friends again! So her mother pulls out a print-out from MySpace to show me as ‘evidence’…
Interesting world kids live in these days.
While we wait, I hear two men talking about kids on probation and the education system, justice, etc. They talk about changing the world, well, their communities at least. I, too, used to think I could change the world… then… well, then life just happened and you know the rest… reality hit.
I realize I am uncomfortable there, although these are just kids. Nope, criminal law is not for me, I rather just go to civil court and argue over trivial matters… like two neighbors who fight over tree height and fence line. Yup.
As I do my task and get out of there quickly, I remind myself of the infamous phrase “Innocent until proven guilty” but it’s not working.�