Judicial Wisdom Shines Through Our Imperfect Legal System

16561251_mIf you’ve been following my blog, you probably have read at least one post about my friend Clemetin. Last week, in a post about the need we all have for unconditional support, I discussed Clemetin’s current judicial predicament. And this week, he stood in judgment.

Here’s the outcome: Clemetin is not in prison. In fact, he’s not even on probation any more.

So what happened?

He had the good fortune of appearing before a wise judge who made a humane decision.

According to Clemetin, the judge told him that he understands that some people just aren’t able to handle¬† regular appointments with a probation officer. And, he figured that Clemetin was such a person.

A Circle of Disrespect and a Bind for the Judge

Forgiving Clemetin for not showing up at the probation office and not punishing him probably put the judge in a bit of a bind.

I’ll guess that the probation department doesn’t take kindly to people getting away scot-free when they don’t show up for their appointments. So they were most likely pushing the judge to give him some time in prison.

On one hand, Clemetin hates going to his probation meetings because he feels disrespected. On the other hand, the probation officers feel disrespected when Clemetin doesn’t show up, and even more disrespected if the judge doesn’t punish him.

Keep in mind that judges work with the probation officers day in and day out and are probably susceptible to their pressure.

A difficult decision

This judge decided to go against the probation office and made what I believe is the right decision.

He probably saw that Clemetin DID show up at court when he needed to. And perhaps he realized that Clemetin’s infractions, like stealing a can of peanuts, were minor. And who knows, perhaps Clemetin’s resiliency and spirit touched the judge.

Whatever it was, he decided that not only should Clemetin walk free, but that he should be taken off probation entirely. Instead, the judge assigned him to meet regularly with a psychiatrist. A wonderful solution.

No Strings Pulled — Just a Wise Judge

When Clemetin came over to tell us what had happened, he thought that somehow I had pulled some strings on his behalf. But I didn’t know what strings to pull or how to pull them.

In fact, the positive outcome of this situation rests entirely with Clemetin and the judge. And that gives me reason to be amazed and delighted that the judicial system does, in some cases, work well!

A note of thanks to the judge

I’ve written the judge a letter thanking him for his wisdom in dealing with Clemetin. I’m not sure if that’s appropriate, but it seems a nice thing to do.

In fact, I think it’s not just nice, but powerfully important to recognize people when they have done the right thing — especially when it may not have been easy.

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How Do You Handle Tough Decisions?

Like the judge, sometimes we all face difficult decisions. We’re forced to decide between what we know is morally right versus what others want us to do. The next time you find yourself wrestling with one of these conundrums, think of Clemetin’s judge and come down on the side of good, even if it’s the harder decision and it means going against the grain.

How would you have decided Clemetin’s case? What do you think of what the judge did? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

  • What a moving story. The judge’s decision began with a willingness to see Clementin as a person (not just “someone who broke the rules”), and then to go further and see Clementin as a person who is sincerely doing his best.

    It’s so much easier to condemn and criticize. Thanks for this inspiration!