Department of Discipline

When I was growing up, my parents made me sand and stain a paddle, and drill twenty-six holes in it.  Inscribed on the paddle were these words:  “When love and talking doesn’t work, then love and I will.”  While the paddle was made for me, it never touched my butt.  (Got all my brothers and sisters, though.)  I talked myself out of more spankings…maybe that is why I became a lawyer. You do not have to live with your parents.  The Justice System will feed you. What you fail to learn at home you can get in court:  discipline and something to do with your time.  Judges can find a little public service for you to do or some nights locked up away from home. My mom was good at making sure kids had something to do.  She kept us busy to keep us out of trouble.  Her strategy worked for the most part.  Being a lawyer does not keep me out of jail, but it does keep me busy…and, no, I am not an overnight guest at the jail. Happy Mother’s Day!   Read More

Cash Prizes for Florida Bar Video Contest 2015

Attention Florida high school students, the Florida Bar is awarding $500 to the first place winner and $250 to the second place winner in their YouTube Contest.  You have to create a 2 to 4 minute video based on a topic from the Legal Guide for New Adults (available free online at http://www.floridabar.org/tfb/TFBConsum.nsf/48e76203493b82ad852567090070c9b9/34557641d4c2f7c885256b2f006c5753?OpenDocument).  The contest deadline is April 15, 2015.  For a complete list of rules and details, go to the entry form at http://www.floridabar.org/TFB/TFBResources.nsf/Attachments/19D031CB38E30D4A852579AD00501396/$FILE/Entry%20Form.pdf?OpenElement.   Read More

Control Through Choices

When I was growing up, my parents made me sand and stain a paddle and drill twenty-six holes in it.  Inscribed on the paddle were these words:  “When love and talking doesn’t work, then love and I will.”  While the paddle was made for me, it never touched my butt.  (Got all my brothers and sisters, though.)  I talked myself out of more spankings…maybe that is why I became a lawyer. You do not have to live with your parents—the Juvenile Justice System will feed you, and give you clothes, housing, and something to do—but you may not want that.  Even as a child, your choices give you some control over your life. What you fail to learn at home you can get in court:  discipline and something to do with your time. “The best way to remain in charge of your own life is to know the law and obey it.” –Judge Alexander and Judge Wolfe. Read More

Mothers & Law

“When love and talking doesn’t work, then love and I will.”  Those were the words handwritten on the paddle when I was growing up.  What you fail to learn at home you can get in court:  discipline and something to do with your time. You do not have to live with your parents.  The Justice System will feed you. “You may outgrow your responsibility to listen to your parents, but you will never outgrow your responsibility to obey the law.”  That is a quote from Judge Alexander and Judge Wolfe.  They go on to point out that if you fail to obey the law, you may put a stranger “in charge of telling you everything from where you can go and what you can do, all the way down to what you can wear, and what you can eat.” “The best way to remain in charge of your own life is to know the law and obey it.” –Judge Alexander and Judge Wolfe. Happy Mother’s Day!   Read More

Smart Choices in Juvenile Justice

The long arm of the public education system reaches into juvenile justice.  What you do not get in school you can get in prison:  structured learning environment complete with locked doors and armed guards, plenty of time to think, and as a bonus, everybody gets to wear uniforms just like a fancy boarding school, except you do not get to go home on breaks…because there are no breaks. “DJJ” stands for Department of Juvenile Justice, not Disc Jockey Jam.  The DJJ has a way to decrease delinquency:  they enforce attendance with locked doors and issue uniforms.  That may not be how you want to spend your high school career. Smart choices are usually the best, whether you are dealing with school or DJJ.  Typically smart choices help you avoid the juvenile justice system, but if you do wind up there, seek competent legal counsel to help you make smart choices about your case.  Where math, science, English, and history (beyond your own rap sheet) have failed you, let good legal guidance lead you in the lesson of how to make the most of a bad situation. Read More

The Old Man on the Bench – Poetic Justice in Juvenile Court

When Ernest Hemingway set out to pen his Pulitzer Prize-winning Old Man and the Sea, he probably never meant it as punishment.  However, there was a judge who took those 27,000 words and turned them into a sentence for a juvenile offender—the old man on the bench threw the book at him (figuratively) and ordered him to read it.   What happened to reading for fun?  Are writers writing a story, or did they mean that symbolism?  Did they plan all that?   Most juvenile defendants do not plan on walking in one door of the courtroom and out the other in cuffs.  They do not plan on 100 hours of labor or having a curfew enforced by armed guards.  What you do not plan may become a lengthy teachable moment.   School is out when court is in session.  The bell is not going to ring and you do not necessarily get to go home at the end of the day.   If you are a juvenile defendant, you need more than adult supervision.  Seek competent legal counsel on how to conduct your case.  Nobody wants enough jail time to finish Moby Dick. Read More

Teen Scene & Commitment

Even if you are under age 18, a felony charge can result in more than one year in a commitment facility…that might not be the kind of commitment you are looking for. “You may outgrow your responsibility to listen to your parents, but you will never outgrow your responsibility to obey the law.”  That is a quote from Judge Alexander and Judge Wolfe.  They go on to point out, “The best way to remain in charge of your own life is to know the law, and obey it.  Do otherwise, and you are responsible for putting someone that you do not even know in charge of telling you everything from where you can go and what you can do, all the way down to what you can wear, and what you can eat.” You do not have to live with your parents.  Juvenile Justice will feed you.  You can get into bars, but getting out may take some time and community service.  Be mindful of what you make a commitment to. Read More