Jerry Martin is a red neck.
He’s a big ol’ corn-fed guy, with a deep, slow voice. He keeps his dirty blond hair shaved almost to the skin and his fair complexion is splotched with crimson. Today he wore his Sunday best for the court hearing – a three-button red polo shirt and a generally intact pair of jeans.
When he dropped his ponderous frame unceremoniously into the seat on the witness stand, the rinky-dink chair groaned in protest. He leaned back, draped a meaty arm over the side of the witness box and met the stare of the prosecutor with unblinking apathy. His right forearm sported a brand new anarchy tattoo, still slightly inflamed.
Jerry is direct. He’s blunt. He’s got no social graces. But he’s not stupid.
I testified about Jerry’s performance on probation. He’d had a decent attitude, marked by a propensity for answering direct questions honestly, but not volunteering any information. He did some community service and made some payments, but never did as much as he was supposed to.
And he smoked a lot of pot.
The prosecutor wanted to know what we did about that. I testified that at first we tried 12-step meetings. When that didn’t work, I sent him to a treatment center for an evaluation. They put him into in-patient treatment. It wasn’t working, so after a couple of weeks they put him into their “Intensive Inpatient” program. (Not unlike Dean Wormer’s Double-Secret Probation.) A week or so into that program I got an irate call from the drug counselor. Jerry was caught toking it up with one of the staff members.
That caused a bit of a kerfuffle.
Jerry came to see me that afternoon and admitted he needed some serious treatment. If he couldn’t kick the habit, he would end up in prison. That day Jerry and I worked out a plan to put him into a long term treatment program. The next day he was supposed report to me again to sign the papers that would give away his freedom for the next nine months.
Surprise, surprise – Jerry didn’t show up. So, after dodging a warrant for the past few months, Jerry appeared in court this afternoon to find out what the Judge would do with him.
Under questioning from his attorney, Jerry explained that he knew he’d screwed up. Marijuana was a major problem for him, as was alcohol. He was worried that he couldn’t make probation, but he wanted treatment and a chance to try again.
Then it was the prosecutor’s turn.
“When did you last smoke marijuana, Mr. Martin?” the lawyer asked, his Eagle Scout uprightness contrasting with Jerry’s bumpkinly sprawl.
“Yesterday,” Jerry confessed.
“Prior to that, when did you last smoke?”
“The day before.”
“I see. And do you smoke marijuana every day, Mr. Martin?”
“Pretty much.” Jerry slouched more deeply in the chair.
“And how many times a day do you smoke?”
“Oh, I smoke quite a bit,” Jerry drawled.
“And you don’t have a job,” the prosecutor said, leaning forward slightly in his seat. “How do you get your drugs?”
“My friends,” Jerry replied matter-of-factly.
“And what do you do for them in return?” the prosecutor asked, letting a hint of disbelief creep into his voice.
“And they’re still your friends?” More than a hint of disbelief. “When were you arrested on this warrant?” he continued.
“The day after the Superbowl.”
“And you weren’t working then, either?”
“So where did you get the money to bond out of jail?”
“From Crime Stoppers.”
“Excuse me?!” The prosecutor was openly incredulous.
“From Crime Stoppers.”
“So you turned someone in?” You could almost read the lawyer’s mind – maybe Jerry wasn’t selling drugs himself, but he knew people who were. He must have turned one of them in to the crime tips hotline.
“No, but my mom did.”
“Your mom? Whom did your mom turn in?”
No one made a sound for several seconds. I would have loved to have seen the Judge’s face, but I had my eyes locked firmly on the desktop, shuffling through papers, in a mostly successful attempt to keep a straight face.
“Let me see if I understand this.” The prosecutor’s voice rose significantly. “Your mother turned you in to the Crime Stoppers hotline, got the reward money and used that money to bail you out of jail?!”
“Yessir,” Jerry deadpanned, completely unperturbed.
The prosecutor collapsed against the back of the chair. “No further questions.”
I guess Jerry’s honesty paid off. The Judge sent him to treatment. But he maxed out the underlying sentence, so if Jerry screws up again, he’s going to serve the maximum amount of time possible. And the next time there is a warrant for Jerry, I bet Crime Stoppers receives a request from the District Attorney not to post any reward money for his capture.