Saturday, April 3, 2010

I am gonna give you a slap in the face!

Yesterday a short episode from some time back came to my mind.
A couple of years ago I used to work for a criminal defens lawyer.

My job was basically to talk to the defendants on the eve of the arraignment. I had to explain to them what was going to happen and had to answer all kinds of questions to them.

For me,this was a challenge in itself. Being german, having never studied criminal law in the US and all the time being expected to give adequate information to people in real trouble was not an easy task. However, I somehow managed to jam with my experience from the german criminal system.

The fact that english is not my first language at all was not really helping either... I remember, I always had to obtain some information from the defendants for my boss. Sometimes I was not even able to understand/translate what the people were telling me. Just thinking at that time really makes me wonder how I got by.

Anyway, one day I had to talk to a young hispanic man, probably around the age of 20. We were sitting next to each other on a narrow bench in a back room of the court house and the poor guy was handcuffed to the bench.

As far as I remember, it was not a very serious crime the guy had committed. So we talked, I told him that it doesn´t look that bad for him but that he definitely had to stay out of trouble in the future. Suddenly he looked at me and said something like: "What are you going to do if I get in trouble again?" And without me even realising it, my dominant personality took over.

I touched his face gently, looked him deep in his eyes and said: "If you get in trouble again and if I see you in here again I am gonna give you a slap in the face".

As soon as I had said that, I became really nervous. Had anybody heard what I had just said? Fortunately the guards have been busy with something else and had not paid attention to my words.

The man however had clearly understood what I said. He somehow accepted that answer and just smiled.

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