Tuesday, August 12, 2014


Day 26

Friday September 15, 2006: Holding cells – the accused, randomly selected by the calendar of the court – are loaded with variables and potential problems. It stems from the shocking number of enemies people in jail have. Every time someone is moved to a new facility, part of the intake process, or screening, is asking the question; “Do you have any enemies?” which I found odd. They keep a list of everyone’s enemies? I guess I found it depressing too; gang members with enemies’ lists’, just like Nixon. The first time I was asked, it so caught me off-guard I responded sarcastically, a reflex I soon lost. “Well, JJ Murphy used to look for me in the 6th grade to beat me up, but he’s got to be dead by now.” County employees take their job very serious when someone tries to be funny. He looked at me without so much as a smirk, “So no enemies then, correct?” It did not take long to stop going for laughs in an environment where everyone wants to beat your ass. It is one big tough room.

As each miscreant is fed into the holding cell, they search the faces for the familiar. Being with a world-class weasel was preferable to being alone. But no one ever seemed to be alone – except me. Everyone else coming through the door needed two seconds to find someone they knew. It was like a reunion, or me going into a bar, except with bizarre-world nicknames; “Hey Worm! Yo, my dog Vermin, how you been?” and so forth. The camaraderie often looked forced, motivated by fear. I never spoke to anyone first – except once, which I’ll explain later – in a holding cell. For the most part, these are people who go to jail for a living, forced temporarily together, then tossed and tossed. There are at least two holding cells before boarding the bus to court. Once there, three or four more is typical before court, then at least two more while waiting for your ride back. Another one back at the home facility, so they can look up your ass, then back to the 5.5 x 11.5 foot three man cell. As bad as the cell was, when I arrived back each time from court, I was genuinely comforted by its confines.

Before going into court, in the last holding cell, I was permitted to speak with my attorney. The conversation was conducted through a 3” x 12” slot in the door, located about two feet from the floor. Standing there, bent over and screaming so he would hear me, my seven newest best friends in the world hung on our every utterance. He tried to explain to me what this day’s hearing was addressing, but I could not understand him, and did not feel comfortable enough to ask him to repeat something I most likely would not have understood had I heard every word. I quickly grow tired of screaming “What’s that mean?” when trapped and surrounded by genius. But it was there, bent at the waist with my ear as close to the slot as I could get it, I learned the five years at either 80 or 85% had been removed as an offer and replaced by an offer of seven years at whatever the correct percentage was, which my lawyer did not care enough to determine. I had been bargained up. I am sure it happens, initial offers going up; it just was so rare I could not find another example of it in the coming six years. My case had quite a few of those infrequent peculiarities, beginning with being arrested twice, and ending with a little known and seldom seen parole surprise.

In the courtroom, the man who would become the poster boy for spurious legal representation and gluttonous bottom feeding sat next to me in the villains section, dressed in a suit clearly distinguishing him as a visitor and master of disguise. My best effort to read and comprehend the paperwork he shuffled before me was futile. At best I could pull out snippets of data.

"Hey, what's this here? Says my first arrest was May 17th, 1996?! I was never arrested in May of 1996. That's wrong." Now, at this juncture, I really hoped for some supportive response, this was cut and dry matter-of-fact stuff. Instead, he focused in on the page and rebutted me.

"Yes you were, it says right here . . ." he proceeded to read the "facts" pertaining to the arrest that never happened, as if my problem were illiteracy. Momentary out of body experiences gripped me. When I reiterated the date of my first arrest, as in actually taken into custody, just as I was then, he dismissed me, sure that, simpleton which I was, had the dates mixed up. As soon as he felt I was properly defused he started to resell me on the idea of accepting the seven year offer, "Before they raise it again." I wondered if I refused deals long enough, could this grow into life sentence. When he paused from retelling me bad news about rescinded offers and other assorted tragedies relating to how screwed I was, I asked a question. “Can you file a Pitchess motion on my behalf regarding the way the stories changed?” I saw the expression on his face do something. Until then, he mindlessly spoke nothing specific enough to require thought, only heaping discouragement upon me, hoping to suffocate me, so I would succumb. He remained a scumbag even when he gave his words thought.

“Where did you hear of that?” Spoken in a voice reserved for the preposterous.

“I went to the law library at the jail and looked some stuff up.” No way was I going to let him tell me what an idiot Gangster was, or I was for listening to him. I thought each jail was required to have a law library available, but then, I also believed innocent until proven guilty. He simply switched targets, telling me the books are outdated and the application . . .blah blah blah. He was not going to file the motion. So I asked more questions. “I looked up mayhem and I do not see how they can charge me with that, what are the grounds?

“There’s retina damage to the right eye, that requires surgery, otherwise it’s a permanent injury.” I sat still, trying to stay focused as rage gathered momentum within me. It took a while, but calmness still controlled the surface.

“That retina damage is 17 years old. It occurred when an older sister flipped a car over while driving drunk. There was already surgery scheduled for September, this month, before this happened. If someone is in chemo and something like this happens, would I be charged with causing the cancer? Can’t we get ahold of medical records to prove this? How hard can that be?” He never answered any of my questions directly which I did not realize at the time.

“Can you come up with $3,500?” Lawyers never ask questions unless they have the answer. “If you can, then I strongly suggest you hire a detective to get started on this.” Words to that effect anyway, I went into a state then, where I do not hear or comprehend my surroundings, something I imagine people must experience on an airplane that is going down.