Monday, January 9, 2012

Accepting Responsibility and Why I won't take some people as clients

Today I awoke at 5:00am to be in court by 8:00 to listened to the commitment hearing on a probation violation case. I have to start my day with Yoga, meditation, a workout, tea and some quick clean up of the messes I made the prior day. Then it was off to listen to the recording. As I heard the first few minutes it became clear that there were two radically different interpretations of the truth at work here. There was the perception by the potential client and then there was what I heard. This case clearly demonstrates why I won't take some people as clients. I am planning to do an in-depth thesis on personal responsibility in the coming week. I will allow this to be a primer for that upcoming posting.

I was contacted because the potential client wanted me to right an injustice. From what I was told a probationer had been committed to the Indiana Department of Corrections to serve the unexecuted portion of his sentence because he missed a probation meeting. Further, that it was in excess of the agreement with the prosecutor. I was also told that the judge said "I don't care about the taxpayers of Indiana" following argument by counsel about the severity of the sentence.

The missed probation meeting, which I was told about, was the first petition for revocation. It was filed in June 2000. The second petition was for acquiring an additional charge while on probation. It was filed in November 2011. In this case those were convictions for:
Driving While Intoxicated and Driving While Suspended - 15 November 2001
Vandalism - 16 April 2002
Criminal Trespass - 11 April 2003
Indecent Exposure - 30 June 2006
Public Intoxication, Reckless Driving and Driving while revoked as a second offense - 15 September 2006

The man admitted to the violation of obtaining additional charges while on probation but not of not reporting to probation -- claiming instead to have no recollection of that.

There is a logical explanation for not having recollection of not reporting to probation. When he was originally sentenced and the term was suspended subject to terms of probation he reported to the probation office and released from custody. There he initialed and signed each term of probation and his acknowledgment of his reporting responsibilities. Then he fled the state. There is an often misunderstood belief about fleeing the jurisdiction. The statute of limitations and period of probation do not toll unless the offender is within the jurisdiction of the court. So it does no good to hide out in another state waiting for time to run out.

The Boone County probation officer handling his case called the man's home county to inquire about another possible Operating While Intoxicated charge. She was told there was no charge in that county. She then started trying neighboring counties. The first produced a record of a conviction for Domestic Assault on 26 July 2011 for which he was currently on probation. Further inquiry found an OWI conviction in another county on 22 June 2011. His fifth OWI conviction. None of the probation officers was aware that the man had been or was on probation in other jurisdictions. This was because the man never reported that to any of his probation officers as required.

The Boone County probation officer stated that the man was "not a candidate for probation" and recommended a sentence of 180 days. The man's attorney concurred with the recommendation. However, judges are not bound by recommendations and there is no such thing as a plea agreement in a revocation case.

Upon being sentenced to serve the remaining years of the unexecuted portion of his sentence the man was told by the judge that the "concern cannot be if we are spending tax dollars or not." A far different tone than the "I don't care about the taxpayers of Indiana" which was the quote relayed to me. The judge went on to explain that when an offender is convicted on an additional charge that incarceration is imposed. Further that someone who flees the jurisdiction, ignores court orders and then obtains seven additional convictions is not going to be treated with leniency. The judge stated that no other offender before that court had so blatantly disregarded the authority of the court. The man will likely receive a much needed additional term of confinement upon returning to his home state in a few years.

Pleas were made about how this man has an alcohol addiction and needs counseling. WRONG! This man has a lack of respect for authority addiction and a lack of willingness to take responsibility addiction. All too often instead of accepting responsibility for who they are and what they have done people instead practice the fine art of blame shifting. It is always someone else who is at fault, or it's genetic or it is the circumstances. A litany of excuses, of which none are acceptable.

This case aptly demonstrates why I require an application with an essay portion before I will accept someone as a client. Here is someone who, first, is not truthful about the circumstances of the case and, secondly, refuses to accept any responsibility for his actions. Anyone who obtains five OWI convictions obviously has no regard for the safety and welfare of the children who share the public ways or any other person who does. Instead he argues that he is being treated unjustly while denying the pattern and severity of his crimes. Well if he wants a shoulder to cry on it isn't going to be mine. I help people help themselves not avoid responsibility.

In my opinion drunk driving should be a capital crime but extensive lobbying efforts by the automotive industry have maintained using an automobile to kill people as one of the least punishable offenses. So, I come to these people with the idea that rarely are they deserving of life anyway let alone my assistance.

I am in the business of providing coaching services to people who need assistance in modifying their lives to ensure financial success, career satisfaction, improved mental and physical well-being, and satisfying personal relationships. However, the people I help must be willing to accept responsibility for their failures and need for assistance. I have neither the time nor inclination to assist those who are not willing to assist themselves. Here is another case of someone wasting my time in search of an additional person to act as an enabler of his denial of personal responsibility.

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