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?

  • Teresa T Wooldrik

    My own personal experience with a MTR within 2.5 months of ruling. No history except 30 y/o DWI @ 20 that was dismissed at 5 months good behavior. I fought 15 months due to multiple life events, refused 18mo Misdeanor, I did not want a conviction on my record. She the judge wanted to put me in a state hospital for 1 year, plus etc. Refused there MHMR choices, debilitated pts are not to be medicated with psych drugs especially. I was forced to plead guilty and take a 4 year stiff defered adjudication for SJF UUMV. A poor choice I made, help I needed but telling the truth labeled me psycho bipolar. I made it, didn’t take meds, took 9 more months to have the MTR dismissed. Transfer to Cameron County for my father was nearing his end. I actually began walking and driving a little, 4 years after that memorable arrest.
    Now my second MTR has to do with my S.O., now spouse. and he is at the opposite end from me. Multi offender, Reduction in offenses, failed probations, serving multiple short jail sentences. I came along 3 years ago, lodging at same Hotel 2 weeks. Holy gal versus scum Bag, decided to be polite, walked off 10 min, I do not accept nor tolerate poor behavior aimed to degrade. Later. I have kept my guard up since, yet the more I looked closely, abnormal outrage was empty and lost, and miserable. Here I have been able to summarize til this point, a victim of money, power, misguided, soul and there are thousands plus. Not truly deviates, P.I.s given out like candy, pay and go. Provoke behaviors with A-Zmisdeamnors,and the Bogus POCS, some dropped to Misdeamnors, yet two POCS from 2006 and 2007, 2009 that are so blown out of proportion. Probation a joke, yet made his first 9 months last year ever. Then dismiss a guardianship, give him his money for trying and string out a lot of misc charges over 6 months calling the court proceedings a formality, yet ruled half way thru 4 years felony supervision, with court cases still pending. As if the DA hired his own friends to set him up to fail. I never seen anything like it. Calling them concurrent,when they aim to pull the habitual card and take everything he owns for not handling his legal affairs. How to provoke wrong conduct, make money look at 48% of the judges in Texas, revoke to prison for technical violations. There is no real rehabilitation offered in Texas. This man has the money and pleading to be sent to long term private rehab versus SJF in Texas, hell they all come out worse. Plus defunding the INFS, closing one now that the judges wont even utilize. I do believe there is rule of neutrality, not the defense and Judge best of friends, pulling the probationer’s strict surveillance for 6 months which he was doing and working at, yanked it at 2 weeks, gave him 14 days to report and that horse was out of the gate running. Geez! I have seen it all. There is Due Process Clause doubt that there will be an impartial, disinterested tribunal that will not distort the conception of facts and twisted the rules and call it the law he broke and violated. He wants Rehab far away from here, and rest a while for we all know life is much shorter, if granted real freedom from living such a hard life.

  • kayla

    i disagree. i believe people deserve second chances. if its minor stuff that is. cause i know some one that just went to jail for a possesion charge, and they have an 8 month pregnant fiance. so is it right to take that person from his family and son…over some thing sooo minor. 🙁

  • Deb

    I believe people should be given a second chance. If they are first time drug possession offenders. Many young adults dohave drug depence disorders along with dual diagnosis; such as ADHD or depression. If the government went to all the homes in the USA, or stopped all drivers at any given day and did a search. They would find approximately 30% of homes or cars with some nonprescribed controlled substance or pot. So then should we take 30% of the population and put them in county jails or charge them with felonies. Instead, you find the ones who are nonviolent, self medicating and can’t afford orvwont go to treatment due to denial. I am talking about only those citizens who are hurting noone but them selves.The system has got to change, if the courts are becoming like factory’s just processing our next generation and instead of rehabilitation instead of just slapping a felony charge on them therefore partly ruining their lives. This is corrupt and morally wrong. We would become more of a dictatorship instead of a democracy. Why have defense attorneys in the first place. If the prosecutors have the final say and the judge agrees just to get it done to save time, that is a disgrace. It is biased as well. I don’t mean to say all the system is biased. I am saying for a first offender, nonviolent who might relapse, there is a better way than to charge him with a felony. If we continue on this path, we will have more felons than citizens in this country. I am asking people to stand up and realize these people need treatment not prison or be stamped with convictions for the rest of their lives. Even if they do relapse one time that is a symptom of the disease, with a month in jail or a clinic to detox then a month in jail put them back into treatment let them complete their probation which how long should fit the crime.any would complete treatment, even out patient treatment is successful with counciling and proper medications for dual diagnosis. We would have more ofthis next generation become doctors, nurses and maybe layers and judge’s. Please stand up for human beings who may have made a mistake in those young years of adulthood. I believe most of uswho are baby-boomes or even a little older who are now professionals made many mistakes as far as doing occassionl drugs in the past yet were never caught. What if we has been. How many of us would be stamped as felons and therefore never had the chance to become who we are now. How many of us have had to deal with depression yet been treated. The punishment must fit the crime in America. People who need treatment should not be denied medical or psychological services and just factories into jails or prisons then 3, 5 or 10 years later be let out and as labeled felons now stigmatized and have no chance to become professional citizens who can make a good living have family’s and afford healthcare or even worse denied housing or apartments. This is morally wrong and honestly if we don’t speak out who will. If we are trying to set human beings up to fail and the plan is to house them in prisons for the rest of their lives. What kind of country are we becoming. If we as professionals been given a second chance in our past or just not caught doing the same things many of these nonviolence drug offenders have done, we have the moral obligation to get these laws changed, so that this country has a future to offer others the same way we were given a future to hope for and work for and learned from our past mistakes so that we could be good law abiding citizens. The United States is us the people, all of us together. We the people of the United States. Let’s be those United people, who have been given so much and been given a voice and the ability to vote, do just that. So others are given the same chance that we all have had.

  • Deb

    Yes. My question is fairly easy. What are we as law abiding citizens and attorneys defense or prosecuting and judge’s doing right now in 2016 doing to get these laws changed. As if we have never made a mistake in our past and were not caught yet we learned from those and we became the men and women we are today who enjoyed our freedom and put in positions of authority to know that these are human beings that are our fellow men and women. Not speaking of violent offenders. I am speaking of people maybe young adults just as we were, to be give a second chance due to the person needon treatment and even they may relapse as that is part of the disorder.