Overheard a bench conference about a motion to revoke a felony probation while standing in line waiting to talk to the judge this week. Putting the pieces together, the story went something like this:
The defendant was on a possession of controlled substance probation, and had mucked it up in several different ways. Probably at least one dirty U/A along the way, had absconded (fancy legal talk for “disappeared/not reported” for a few months), and was generally speaking not winning any awards for probationer of the year. As far as I could tell, no arrests for new offenses, but… what are you going to do?
The defense lawyer was doing a good job of explaining what the probationer had done to straighten up since being released this time, although, that job was complicated by a few bumps in the road since then. I wasn’t totally paying attention, but I’ve been there myself (let’s assume I mean as the lawyer) and know the routine.
The prosecutor had the easier job, listing off the violations, ignoring known facts like “some drug defendants will backslide/relapse,” reciting the facts of the underlying case in a manner that made it seem like agreeing to felony probation in the first place had been both an act of extraordinary prosecutorial grace and an enormous mistake. And perhaps that was all true; I won't comment about that.
So the judge, to clarify the State’s position, asked if they were asking for pen time, and the prosecutor said something that caught my ear:
“Let’s just get it done with, 2 TDC.”
The minimum. They’re only asking for the minimum, that’s reasonable. And prefacing the request with the age old argument that the court should consider the value of getting the motion to revoke resolved. If this case drags on and on, there will be more court hearings. Maybe the probationer will have straightened out his act, but probably not.
More time the judge has to spend listening to both sides. Time for both the prosecution and defense to waste on arguing basically the same old points we always hear in this scenario. The coordinator has to enter more court dates, the field probation officer has one more visit, the court P.O. has one more file to prep for next month, the clerk has another file to wheel over in his cart, the deputy downstairs has one more person to screen, the bailiff has one more defendant in the pews to keep his eye on.
If we just deal with it today, two years prison, think of all the time saved. For everyone.
Everyone involved would be better off if we resolve it today with a prison sentence, right?