Crime, Federal Judges, Sentencing Law

Qui Tam: District Court

My experience with federal court is limited to three months externing for a district judge after first year of law school (that and testifying in a homicide case, but that’s another column).  The time was occasionally depressing (can you say “pro se”?), always sobering (you mean the judge is actually going to rely on my legal research??), and ultimately a decent dose of reality after enduring nine months of the alter-world that is being a 1L.

At the Sentencing

The carpet fell from the back of the truck
and unrolled.
A 14-year-old girl, dead maybe three days,
The whole dirty business soon unrolled too.
Successful businessman (slumlord),
Seventy years old,
Pillar of the community,
Hospital builder, benefactor,
Envelopes of cash at the wedding giver,
and oh yeah,
Pre-teen prostitute importer.
I sat in the courtroom on the left of the judge
with the clerk,
Listening to his lawyer ask for sentence adjustments.
His advanced age, his good deeds,
His family, his legacy, his grandchildren.
Eighteen years I think he got.
His mistress cried, we heard the words
“injustice” and “no mercy.”
I caught his cold eye, and thought of the misery and pain.
Death would have been fair.

Qui Tam, a weekly column of poetry about the legal profession, is penned by an arrogant T1 law graduate, former Biglaw associate, and current in-house lawyer. You can reach Qui Tam by email:

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