Tucson CitizenTucson Citizen

Defendants, put your trust in . . . judge



I read with curiosity County Attorney Barbara LaWall’s self-serving letter about what a great job she’s doing.

I know it’s a political office, but come on. It reminded me of hearing Bill O’Reilly tell his radio audience that no priest could ever have molested him, he was too tough.

If you have to tell people how good you are; you aren’t.

She picked a good example to do it with, though: putting away the monsters who tortured and killed two little kids. Is there anything worse?

Of course, the fact that it is her job, what she and her minions are paid to do, was conspicuously absent.

For every prosecution like that one, however, there are dozens that should never have been brought at all: solicitation, prostitution, minor drug use by people suffering from addiction.

What harm can any of these do us? None. Morality is the business of religion, not government.

It is as if our criminal prosecutors are not human, following the letter of the law with no regard to common sense.

A few years ago, two women were charged with committing murder when they were at work. Problem is, the killing took place at home.

So how did they do it? By somebody getting shot trying to steal marijuana somebody else stored there. They didn’t own it, they didn’t put it there, and they sure never killed anybody. At worst, they knew it was there.

These are not killers. Not in anyone’s mind. Except our county attorney’s.

Such enormous power in the hands of people who think like Ms. LaWall does is frightening.

I’m half-hoping this isn’t published. I’m afraid of what she might try to do to me. Anyone who would gladly send two women to prison for life just for letting somebody leave some marijuana at their house is not an easygoing person.

If you are in life’s mainstream, you probably don’t care. Hang ‘em all and let God sort it out. At least you’re safe. Get yourself arrested, though, and you’ll think differently.

I know I did. Two Xanax and some white pills (which couldn’t have been Percocet or I’d have taken them already) found in the car. Only God knows how they got there.

They weren’t in a prescription bottle so they charged me with two counts of narcotics possession. Who, even Barbara LaWall, has not at least once lent somebody a Xanax?

You know what saved me? A judge. At my initial appearance in the jail. I still don’t know his name, but he had the look on his face of something you’d be more likely to see hanging from the roof of a Medieval cathedral.

Told me I was an embarrassment to the legal profession. Given the circumstances, I have to concede the point. He disliked me, no error. But he was all I had. And he was all I needed.

Because he did his job. He followed the law as much as it must have killed him to do it. Dismissed the case outright.

Then he yelled at me one more time; “Don’t thank me,” he said, “it’s not for you I’m doing it.”

Those charges would have ruined my life. And I was doing a pretty good job of that on my own.

If he didn’t save my life, he sure gave me a chance at a better one. Just by making the call he thought was the right one, regardless of how he felt about me. I’d thank him now, but he doesn’t seem to much care for that.

If you live long enough, there comes the moment in every lawyer’s life when he realizes the people he went to school with, tried cases with, are judges.

If you are male, the feeling is much like that horrible moment you realize your daughters are older than the girls in Playboy. Like walking into a Taco Bell with only kids behind the counter. You keep thinking there should be a grown-up running the place.

Then you realize it doesn’t matter. Your best friend or worst enemy, dumb or smart, Republican or not, a judge will make the call he or she believes is right.

There is no such thing as an activist judge, one with a political agenda. They’re too busy.

But more than that, they are passionate about what they do, making the right decision, being fair to both parties no matter how obnoxious their attorneys.

I’ve talked to a few judges and I know. I’d give names, but I doubt they would want me to. People don’t seem eager lately to say they know me. Can’t imagine why.

I have little respect for the law anymore. People matter, not rules. But I do respect judges. It is they who protect us, even from our prosecutors.

I wonder if I’ll get disbarred for this.

Instead of thanking a cop, thank a judge. They’re our last refuge. If you think otherwise, give your legislator a call if you ever find yourself in jail. See what happens.

Michael Morrison is a former Tucson attorney. E-mail: attny_mpmorrison@yahoo.com

Citizen Online Archive, 2006-2009

This archive contains all the stories that appeared on the Tucson Citizen's website from mid-2006 to June 1, 2009.

In 2010, a power surge fried a server that contained all of videos linked to dozens of stories in this archive. Also, a server that contained all of the databases for dozens of stories was accidentally erased, so all of those links are broken as well. However, all of the text and photos that accompanied some stories have been preserved.

For all of the stories that were archived by the Tucson Citizen newspaper's library in a digital archive between 1993 and 2009, go to Morgue Part 2

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