Dodging a (figurative) bullet
We were back in court today to hear the judge's decision about whether our client should be transferred to adult court, tried under extended juvenile jurisdiction, or just kept in regular juvenile court. (We wanted the last one.) Entering the juvenile court building is always kind of interesting. There's the requisite airport-style bag scanner and metal detector. I ALWAYS trigger this thing. I figure it's something to do with the shoes I wear to court, which are made of actual leather and feature a small heel (a real departure from the sneakers I usually wear.) As usual, today, the thing beeped accusingly and I headed over to the "wanding" area. (I wish so much that "wanding area" was a place where they gave me a cool wand with a star on the end of it and sparkly tinsel coming out of it that would make it so much easier to play Tinkerbell for Halloween next year instead of a pat down. Sadly, the juvenile court building doesn't seem very interested in tinsel or my future Halloween costumes.) Today, the wanding area was staffed by a very short police officer with positively dreamy Buddy Holly glasses, and when I told him "it's my shoes," he said "I'm just glad you beeped so you had to come over here" and I got all blushy and made some awkward gesture designed to subtly show my wedding band while saying "thanks, um, gotta go." Note to self: get better at dealing with members of opposite sex. Anyway, I finally made it to court, where the lead attorney and the family was waiting. The judge had taken a week to make his decision after our last hearing, so today he had an opinion all written that he read into the record. The first sentence he read went something like this: "though the defense appears to have missed this development, the statute governing extended juvenile jurisdiction in Illinois changed on August 20 of this year." Shit shit shit. I was in charge of figuring out how that law worked. I wrote that motion. I am solely responsible for the "defense missing this development." At this point, my stomach was about at my ankles and I started evaluating the various exits to the room to determine which looks quickest in case the lead attorney wasn't feeling charitible and wants to rip me a new one for missing this kind of key development which was my ONLY JOB for this motion. Oh dear. The judge continued: "the new law uses the same standards as the transfer law, enabling me to consider social factors in my analysis of whether EJJ would be important." He went on to explain all of the shitty things that have happened in this kid's life, all the ways he has not received the services he needs, and how the juvenile system provides the best chance for him to receive those services. Then he ruled in our favor on both our motions. Our client stays in juvenile court. Amid the crying grandmother, the grateful uncle, and the very cheerful lead attorney, I felt so profoundly relieved that this, my first major screw up where an actual client's future was at stake, was one that didn't ultimately matter. I cannot imagine how I would feel right now if this had gone the other way because of my blunder.