Saturday, June 14, 2008

He Was Fine, Once He Was Sober And Not Naked

In the criminal justice system there are very few laughs. Those of us in this business tend to laugh inappropriately at crime scene photos and other things that would shock many people. We have to or we’d never last in these jobs. (We also shed tears, believe me!) Once in a while, though, we get a funny story that we might actually be able to repeat at home. I’ll be posting about the ridiculous things I've seen in my job over the years. Working in a DA’s office is great for an aspiring writer because you just can’t make this stuff up.

My first naked defendant case was assigned to me when I worked in the appellate section of the Dallas DA’s office. A young man was working for a guy who let him stay in the back of a shop. One night he decided to steal from his employer. As he was being chased through the neighborhood by his boss, he thought that he could elude capture if he removed his light colored shorts. Unfortunately, that was all he was wearing. He went tearing down the street completely naked, ending up at the home of an elderly couple.

What do you say to a naked man who shows up at your door in the middle of night? You call the police. Here’s where my memory fails me, which you would expect after the number of cases I’ve read in my job. I think he was arrested for threatening the officer, but given the fact that he was naked, I can’t think what he used to make that threat! (no pockets for a weapon!) He must have gone for her gun.

I had another appeal in which a daring defendant tried a unique way to argue his innocence. He was a drug dealer. The police investigated him, collected evidence, applied for a search warrant, and searched his apartment. They not only found mens' clothes in the closet, they found womens' clothes as well. They also found pictures of a woman, but this woman really resembled the defendant according to the testimony. This was a one-bedroom apartment as I recall, and there was only one person on the lease. The police never saw the man and woman together. Do you see where this is going? This guy argued to the police, and later to the court, that the drugs found in his apartment did not belong to him, but to his female roommate. It was a fun case to argue, although I don’t remember if I ever got to see pictures of the defendant and his “evil” roommate.

I don’t have to open a file to be amused at my office. Sometimes what I overhear at the water cooler is just as entertaining. Recently, I went into the kitchen to get some water and some coffee. As I walked in I heard one of my colleagues say, "Well, if I ever get in a gun fight, I'm just going to use my pistol until I can get to my shot gun. Pistols are worthless in a gun fight." I don’t know about you, but I’m just as happy not to have to plan what I would do in a gun fight. I know what I would do. I would faint.

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