California, Cars, Crime, Judge of the Day, State Judges

Judge of the Day: No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

Some people might imagine that attorneys, judges, and other legal professionals stop interacting with the legal system once they leave the courtroom or their law firm offices. At Above the Law, we know better.

Over the last couple of months, we have seen attorneys chase down muggers on foot and open fire on burglars. Today, we hear about a San Francisco judge who become a victim as a result of her in-court kindness.

The Honorable Lillian Sing, our Judge of the Day, didn’t do anything particularly crazy, other than have the misfortune of parking her car in the wrong place at the wrong time, while trying to help the wrong defendant…

From the San Francisco Chronicle:

Judge Lillian Sing got a taste of judicial medicine the other day when a convicted car burglar she was trying to help walked out of her San Francisco courtroom and, within minutes, was busted for allegedly breaking into her car.

Phillip Bernard was in Community Court on Tuesday for a check of his progress while on probation for an auto burglary conviction.

Bernard, who is homeless, had missed an earlier appearance and had failed to follow his probation requirements. “I wasn’t too happy with him,” Sing said.

But Community Court is set up to get people help, not send them to jail for minor infractions. So Sing let him off with a stern admonishment.

“I told him he had better get into a harm reduction program and get going with a job search,” Sing said.

Judge Sing was just trying to do the right thing; she was trying to give a down-on-his-luck man a second chance. Wrong decision.

No sooner did Sing’s gavel go down, however, than Bernard exited the Polk Street courtroom, went around to the alley in back, pulled out a weighted sock and smashed the rear passenger window of a car, police said.

As fate would have it, a couple of beat cops were passing by. They nabbed Bernard, ran the car’s plate and bingo – up popped the judge’s name.

“He did it right under my nose,” Sing said.

Come on, man! You’re giving a bad name to all the bleeding hearts who want to to help you! And more importantly, you’re giving that kind of person a pretty concrete reason to never help you — specifically you — ever again. Obviously, being homeless is no picnic (“In the city, you must fight to survive…”), but maybe this is for the best. Maybe Bernard will be happier now because he can crash in a jail cell for a while.

Burglar tries to break in Judge Lillian Sing’s car [San Francisco Chronicle]

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