Criminal defense in Austin Texas.

Probation revocations, and another LOL moment

Posted By on January 7, 2009

Probation revocation cases don’t usually get set for trial.  There’s several good reasons for this, including the fact that a judge can revoke a person’s probation for even the most trivial of reasons, and the fact that it’s the judge, and the judge alone, who gets to make that decision.

So when the judge tells you ahead of time what he’s likely to do if you give up your right to a hearing, the unspoken message is that the outcome is likely to be worse if you insist on going to trial.

There are times, though, when you do it anyway.

Sometimes you do it because you think the evidence is weak, or because the client says he’s innocent.  Other times you do it because you think the punishment is unreasonable, or because you think the judge may be more sympathetic after hearing testimony from witnesses.

In this particular case, it was the first two that were at issue.  My client, “Sam Garcia,” was accused of having committed a new assault, after having been convicted, and put on probation, for having done the same thing only recently.

It was the only allegation against him.  The offer was 2 years in prison, the minimum he could get.  The max would have been 10 years in each case.

Sam said he didn’t do it, and I prepared for trial.  Thankfully, the evidence against him was weak.

Or at least, I thought it was.

On the morning of trial, the prosecutor hands me a CD, which has on it recordings of the phone calls Sam had  made from jail.  (Did you know they tape every outgoing call from Travis County Jail?  They do.)  (And not just Travis County.)

On the tapes, Sam made a number of damaging statements, including one that sounded an awful lot like a confession, and another which I’ll come to in a minute.

After fighting to keep the tapes out, and losing, I, along with the judge, the prosecutor, and everyone else in the courtroom, listened while Sam’s recorded conversations were played back in open court.

Which brings me to the other damaging thing Sam said.  He shared his assessment of the judge in his case, which was, specifically, that he was, “One mean motherfucker.”

I watched Judge Perkins’ expression.  It didn’t change.

We continued the rest of the hearing, and finished it.  The judge rendered his verdict.  He admonished the defendant, and read out his criminal history.  As he was leaving the courtroom, however, he called out to him.  “You can tell the rest of the inmates,” he said, “that I’m not as mean as they say.”

I don’t think I was able to keep from laughing, the second time around.

In retrospect I think Judge Perkins might have been quite pleased with Sam’s assessment.

Oh, and the verdict?  Sam was continued on probation, with 90 days in the Travis County Jail, as a condition of probation.


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