What makes this country so great? Most people disagree on the answer to that question. Some say it’s the freedom of speech that we have. Others will say that it’s our ability to vote and elect who we want to lead us. This is all well and good, but what really sets our country apart from many others is our right to a speedy and public trial of our peers. Some governments in other parts of the world reserve the right to take any citizen right off of the street and place him or her in jail with no other reason than a faulty witness who, more often times than not, is being pressured to bear false judgment against them.
In our court system, there are many components that are in place to insure our citizens have a fair trial. In ancient times, trials were held in massive courts and there was usually a fair length of time that separated each one. In today’s time, though, we have the means to hold several trials a day in any courtroom and the trials can cover a multitude of crimes at any given time. The other day, I had the privilege of watching our fair judicial system at work. I came to find out about the trial through my friend Rebecca Sanders*.
Her sister, Megan, had been the cause of several disturbances back in our hometown of Goobertown* and was now in the process of being sued by the city and her father. The trial started bright and early at ten in the morning last Friday on the twenty-ninth of February. Since she was unable to afford an attorney, the judge provided her with a public defender. I found this to be a very interesting case for many reasons. One fact I was amazed at is that it was a case of a father suing his own daughter.
Now I’m aware that this isn’t exactly that uncommon, but I must mention that Megan was only seventeen years old at the time of the trial. I couldn’t help but feel that this was going a little too far since she was so young. After hearing the background information on the situation, though, I began feeling the complete opposite. According to her school records and several eye-witnesses, Megan had been a very troubled teenager for a couple years now. At first, all she did was skip a few classes to hang out with her friends and such.
But after a while, she began taking drugs and wreaking havoc on the populous. She had been to court several times before and had been subsequently placed on a type of probation called diversion. I had never heard of this type of punishment before, but a friendly officer was more than happy to explain. Diversion is a type of mediocre probation that doesn’t go on your record, but can still limit your freedoms. One of the conditions of this diversion is that she attends class everyday with no exceptions unless special permission was given.
Seeing as how she was “skipping”, this violated the diversion and she was charged with another count. On the days that she actually attended class, she showed up high and reeking of marijuana and various alcoholic substances. In her own testimony, she admitted to getting high before, during, and after school in the parking lot when nobody was looking. She was caught more than once and was suspended several times until finally the city and her father, a man whom I hold in high regard, decided that they couldn’t allow this to continue and began pursuing legal actions against her.
When she discovered what was going to happen, Megan “ran away” from home and stayed at a nearby friend’s house. Though worried, her parents knew that it was just a little teenage drama and decided against involving the police. And they knew that Megan would more than likely be coming return soon (side note, when she left home, Megan had forgotten to grab any clothes or toiletries, and within a couple of days was begging to come back because she was “funky and felt grimy”). During the trial, I began to see the judge’s face becoming less and less tolerant of the misguided girl in front of him.
At one point, while he was sentencing her, she began laughing and giggling and the judge became furious. He ordered that she be given a urine test that day and the result would ultimately decide her fate. I found out a coupe days later that there were traces of marijuana, cocaine, and opiates in her system. Trust me, no one was more surprised than me–I know idea you could get cocaine in Goobertown! In spite of all the evidence against her, the judge believed that she hadn’t gotten so bad that she deserved to be sent to juvenile detention. Instead, he ordered her to find a job, get her G.
E. D. , and stay clean and sober or else. According to her sister, Megan has another court date some time in the future that will determine if she’s still allowed to live at home with her parents or become another ward of the state. No matter who it is, you can’t help but feel a little saddened whenever you see someone live a life of destruction. Our justice system does what it can to help those in need of change and reform. In the end, that is what makes this country truly so great. *Names and places have been changed in respect of the parties involved.