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(Read Part 2)

Real Justice, Part 1
Program #1905
Original airdate Nov 14, 2000

Produced by
Ben Loeterman
Ben Gale

Directed by
Ben Gale
Leeanne Vinson

Written by
Ben Loeterman

ANNOUNCER: Boston, Massachusetts. Like every major city, Boston has its fair share of crime. But what happens after the cops finish their job?

    BAILIFF: Hear ye, hear ye, hear ye.

ANNOUNCER: Eighty-five percent of criminal cases land here in District Court, where FRONTLINE's cameras were allowed to go behind the scenes and watch the justice factory at work.

    Judge EDWARD REDD: Where's the illustrious Mr. Theiss?

ANNOUNCER: Viktor Theiss is the supervising assistant district attorney.

    ASSISTANT: This is on for jury trial on Wednesday. It's got your name next to it.

    VIKTOR THEISS: Your jury's Wednesday?

    ASSISTANT: Jury's Wednesday at 5:00.

    VIKTOR THEISS: All right, then. You got it.

ANNOUNCER: Understaffed and underfunded, his office is hard-pressed to keep up with its caseload.

    VIKTOR THEISS: Don't- don't stand here and waste my time.

    ISAAC QUEEN: I'm not wasting your time.

    VIKTOR THEISS: Take it up in front of the judge. Take it up in front of the judge, all right?

ANNOUNCER: Lisa Medeiros is a court-appointed defense attorney, juggling a dozen cases a day.

    LISA MEDEIROS: [to prisoners in lock-up] OK, who else needs to talk to an attorney? I think you and I have been down this rocky road before.

    Hey, Vik. Tasha Davis.

ANNOUNCER: It's workers like Medeiros and Theiss that keep the wheels of justice turning.

    MEDINA: If I plead guilty to everything-

    LISA MEDEIROS: Listen. Don't say anything.

    MEDINA: They caught me red-handed.

    LISA MEDEIROS: Listen. Shhh.

[Roxbury District Court]

VIKTOR THEISS: I'll be on down in, like, five minutes.

[Because of a computer error, a suspected murderer could be set free this morning.]

VIKTOR THEISS: [on the phone] Hey, Jerry. I got the warrant number, and I got it reactivated.

What a fiasco! Someone recalled the warrant this morning. The printout- the computer won't show why. But when we first went in the system, it's listed inactive.

All right. Take care, Jerry.

[to assistant] Crisis avoided. All right. These people are here on a clerk's hearing from Northeastern. Stan's got-

Oh, I just ripped it up. I didn't think- I didn't- I didn't think it was supposed to- sorry!

ASSISTANT: Thank you.

VIKTOR THEISS: I was trying to be a good boy. Thank you for your help.

[Today Viktor Theiss is trying a drug dealing case. Jon Taylor is the defense attorney.]

JON TAYLOR: [at lockup] Gentlemen, can I speak to Mr. Lugo, please?

1st GUARD: Where's Lugo at?

2nd GUARD: Yeah, go ahead.

1st GUARD: Second to last on the right.

[The police observed Juan Lugo handing something suspicious into a car.

PRISONER: Oh, why me? Why me? Why me? Why me?

JON TAYLOR: [to Lugo] Tell the story. That's all the trial is. Tell the story, all right? If they even think that we're trying to fool them, you're dead meat. And the police aren't necessary lying. They just threw their nets in our American drug war just a little bit too wide, and you got scooped up.

VIKTOR THEISS: There's no doubt he's a drug dealer. Juan Lugo's had five convictions for drug dealing. He's a drug dealer through and through. But you know, he's got to prove it to this jury.

JON TAYLOR: [to Lugo] You heard the judge allowed our motion. None of your prior convictions are going to be heard by that jury. That means that all we have to do, Juan, is tell the simple damn truth.

VIKTOR THEISS: Good morning.

[Before he can begin his trial, Vik will have to deal with 15 other cases.]

VIKTOR THEISS: You told the officers that your boyfriend pushed you down during an argument?

GIRLFRIEND: He pushed me- no, I told them he pushed me down near the street, pushed me down because I'm the one who was arguing on his friend. I was trying to hit him. So he pushed me because he didn't want to touch me.

VIKTOR THEISS: OK. The problem I've got-

GIRLFRIEND: That's what I told them.

VIKTOR THEISS: -is that this isn't a-

GIRLFRIEND: And I told them when I came here-

VIKTOR THEISS: This isn't the first time that he's had problems with a girlfriend. I'm confident that your boyfriend pushed you down, that he had a loud argument, and that he put his hands around you, and that he shouldn't have done that.

GIRLFRIEND: He did not. He never touched me.

VIKTOR THEISS: I'm telling you-

GIRLFRIEND: I don't know what happened before-

VIKTOR THEISS: I've got enough- I've got enough evidence that something happened that night. That's why I'm not dismissing. So I'm just telling you, you can think it's stupid, you can not like me, but I'm not dismissing the case.

GIRLFRIEND: I'm just saying- I'm not saying I don't like you. I'm just saying if you're my lawyer, then you're supposed to-

VIKTOR THEISS: I'm not your lawyer. That's the key. I'm not your lawyer. I represent the state. And as I represent the state, I have to make sure that people obey the law. I don't think he obeyed the law that night. I really don't.

Uhhhh. I'm the only DA here. You know, I'm so short-staffed right now. I know Judge Leary's going to flip, but I got to resolve everything in here by 10:00. So if there's anything to be resolved on the open case, we can just send that over. One of the DAs there, I'm sure, will gladly-

WOMAN: All right. OK. Because I have to go over there anyway. That's all right. Thanks.

LISA MEDEIROS: Hey, Vik. Tasha Davis.

LISA MEDEIROS: She tells me they kissed and made up.

VIKTOR THEISS: Kissed and made up?

LISA MEDEIROS: Uh-huh. They shook hands in a bar.

VIKTOR THEISS: See, I was going to dismiss the A & B in the case as there's just spit.

LISA MEDEIROS: Right. But she's not here. You're not going to have a go, right?

VIKTOR THEISS: But I have her answer up on- if she's not here, then I'm not-

LISA MEDEIROS: Right. That's what I think is going to happen.

[Lisa Medeiros is a court-appointed defense attorney.]

I have a case on for jury trial today with a woman who's accused of spitting at another woman and throwing a beer bottle at her car and causing some damage. We expect that we're not going to have a jury trial today, because the person who's the alleged victim of the case and my client are actually friends. They've sorted things out among themselves.

[Isaac Queen represents Jim Dauphine, whose case has been held over.]

ISAAC QUEEN: I inherited- or you inherited the case Dauphine. I have, like, four appearances in with ADA Blackthorne.

VIKTOR THEISS: Blackshare.

ISAAC QUEEN: It's easy to get them mixed up. The original trial date is October 5th, October 7th.

VIKTOR THEISS: It's October 7th.

ISAAC QUEEN: October 7th.

VIKTOR THEISS: It's on for status today so I'm not going to argue about whether she had to be here today.

ISAAC QUEEN: OK, let me tell you- let me tell you-

VIKTOR THEISS: It's just whether you want to plead it out at the end of the day, because I can bring her here, if I had a chance.

ISAAC QUEEN: Well, wait. Wait a second. Let- let me tell you why- what his decree of order from the bench was.

VIKTOR THEISS: If it's not on the docket, which it isn't, I don't have time right now because I got a ton of stuff to do today.

ISAAC QUEEN: No problem.

VIKTOR THEISS: So it's on for status. That's what the docket says.

ISAAC QUEEN: The decree of order - what he said from the bench was, right, if we didn't have a letter, OK, saying why she couldn't come-

VIKTOR THEISS: Fine. Argue in front of a judge. I don't have time to argue with you. So we'll take in- you can either start picking your dates and what we want to do with the case.

ISAAC QUEEN: I'm not picking dates. I'm leaving the country. I'm going away.

VIKTOR THEISS: All right. Fine. Then tell it to the- tell it to the judge. Look, tell it to the judge. Look, if you can't show up here with a suit and tie on, and show up properly on time, don't- don't stand here and waste my time!

ISAAC QUEEN: I'm not wasting your time. How come you can't do your job?

VIKTOR THEISS: Just take it up in front of the judge. Take it up in front of the judge, all right?

ISAAC QUEEN: Sorry. It's too hard for you.

MAN: She says he did it. But she- Phil thinks she just had the baby, too.

VIKTOR THEISS: No. Well-

MAN: There was no paper sent for her-

[Judge Paul Leary]

BAILIFF: All rise, please. Hear ye, hear ye, hear ye. All persons having anything to do before the Honorable, the Justice of the Roxbury District Court now sitting in Suffolk County, draw near. Give your attendance and you shall be heard. God save the Commonwealth. This court is in session. Please be seated.

CLERK: Commonwealth versus Tasha Davis.

VIKTOR THEISS: Your Honor, the Commonwealth does not have its alleged victim here. I cannot prove my case without her.

Judge PAUL LEARY: What's the relationship between the defendant and the victim?

VIKTOR THEISS: Friends, your honor, I believe.

LISA MEDEIROS: And they are friends again. Ms. Davis tells me that they have actually resolved terms between the two of them, and she doesn't expect him to be there.

Judge PAUL LEARY: All right, Ms. Medeiros. I'll take a 10-minute recess then, and then I'll give Mr. Theiss-

BAILIFF: All rise, please.

Judge PAUL LEARY: -and the attorneys a chance to discuss their matters.

[But first Vik must discuss the case against Dean Landry, accused of car theft.]

VIKTOR THEISS: Oh, yeah. Right. Not going to show.

DEFENSE ATTORNEY: My guy tells me that he was trying the car out to buy. That's why he had the key.

VIKTOR THEISS: If the guy was up in New Hampshire, though, and he's trying out the car in New Hampshire and he ends up in Massachusetts, there's a strong indicia that he ain't ever going to bring it back. I mean, that- that one's a good one for me.

DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, what would you be thinking?

VIKTOR THEISS: I got to look at the guy's- the guy's record.

DEFENSE ATTORNEY: He's got a long record. For the past five years, he hasn't been that active. He's turned the corner. Some probation or suspended or-

VIKTOR THEISS: Yeah, I might be able to do a suspended. Let me talk to my victim.

VIKTOR THEISS: Hi, Steven. Viktor Theiss.

STEVEN: Pleased to meet you.

VIKTOR THEISS: All right. He's willing to plead guilty. But what he's telling me is that he was taking the car for a test drive and never brought it back, and that he used to live with you?

STEVEN: He used to live with us, and he was using the car until I found out he didn't have a license.

VIKTOR THEISS: Yeah.

STEVEN: It was my car. He wasn't test driving it at all.

VIKTOR THEISS: What do you want to have happen to this guy? And how much money are you out?

STEVEN: I'm out $300 for the towing fees. I'm out-

VIKTOR THEISS: That's fair.

STEVEN: I still have a ticket in the city of Boston that he incurred while he had the car, which is $58.

VIKTOR THEISS: And today you missed work ,as well.

STEVEN: And then today.

VIKTOR THEISS: How much is that?

STEVEN: It's $9.45 an hour.

VIKTOR THEISS: OK.

STEVEN: So it took me-

VIKTOR THEISS: Let's just say 100 bucks for the day, for each day.

STEVEN: Yeah.

VIKTOR THEISS: So 200 bucks for work fees. Would you rather have him in jail or paying you your money back?

STEVEN: I'd rather have him pay the money back.

VIKTOR THEISS: OK. Then what I'm going to do is give him what's called a suspended sentence. It's basically telling him, "You're going to go to jail for two years, but we're going to let you do the right thing. We're going to let you pay back the money. We're going to let you be a good citizen. If you screw up, you go to jail for two years." There's no ifs, ands, or buts.

[to defendant's attorney] As far as they're concerned, he just stole their car. If your guy wants to make restitution for that, I'd give him a suspended sentence. Otherwise we can try the case, and I'll send him to jail.

DEFENSE ATTORNEY: I see. Then we're looking at about 600 bucks, then?

VIKTOR THEISS: Eighteen months suspended for two years.

DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Eighteen and two, 600 bucks. Well, it's a choice of that or-

VIKTOR THEISS: You know. If they get to trial, they tell a good story.

DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Three hundred for the tow bill, 58 bucks for a ticket you got down here that was charged to the vehicle. And now I forgot what the other- but altogether, 600 bucks.

DEAN LANDRY: OK.

DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Vik wants 600 bucks paid within 6 months.

DEAN LANDRY: OK.

DEFENSE ATTORNEY: [unintelligible] you can walk today.

DEAN LANDRY: OK, yeah. I'll do that.

DEFENSE ATTORNEY: OK? I mean, if you want to roll the dice, we can roll the dice, but-

DEAN LANDRY: Yeah. No, let's just do this, get it over with.

DEFENSE ATTORNEY: All right.

Judge PAUL LEARY: Can I see the record on Mr. Landry?

VIKTOR THEISS: Your Honor, it was with great reluctance that I agreed to the sentence imposed, due to the defendant's record. However, talking with the alleged victims, it- the money- restitution is a very serious concern of theirs. Given that my experience has been that incarceration typically results in restitution not occurring, the Commonwealth has requested a suspended sentence. My only concern is that the restitution be ordered to be paid within six months.

Judge PAUL LEARY: Mr. Landry, if you violate any of the terms and conditions of probation, or if you fail to make restitution within that prescribed time, you can assure that you're going to end up doing the 18 months in the house of correction. Do you understand that, sir?

DEAN LANDRY: Yes.

[Vik has just learned the victim in the spitting case has arrived at court.

VIKTOR THEISS: The mother was here. She went home to get her daughter, and she's going to bring her here. So we got to talk about what we're going to do. I'll probably let this go, and we'll see what-

CLERK: -for jury trial status. Jim Dauphine's attorney please.

Judge PAUL LEARY: And what are we doing with Mr. Dauphine?

ISAAC QUEEN: According to Your Honor's last decree and order, A.D.A. Blackshare was to have a letter from an M.D. who was treating the alleged victim as to why she could not appear.

Judge PAUL LEARY: If the victim is about to give birth, the victim can't possibly be here. So how could we penalize either the victim or the Commonwealth for not being able to be here?

ISAAC QUEEN: Well, that- that seems to be in question. I can only go by what judges say. If I don't listen to judges, the system fails.

VIKTOR THEISS: I have nothing on the file or the docket that would warrant a dismissal today. The victim is available-

ISAAC QUEEN: Let's hold for the- let's hold for the tape. The tape is your record.

VIKTOR THEISS: What's the tape going to-

ISAAC QUEEN: Tape's going to say your- it's going to have your decree lawyer. If you have a letter provided to this office two days prior to this date, this case was going down the drain.

Judge PAUL LEARY: I'm going to do the first thing I've ever done in my career. I'm going to overrule myself. If I said that, I'm overruling what I said, and I'm going to continue the matter.

ISAAC QUEEN: Your order was very, very clear.

Judge PAUL LEARY: I don't care if I stood on my head and said I was not going to continue it again. I'm reversing myself now, based on Mr. Theiss's representation to me. You can take whatever exception you want to it. You can take whatever appeal you want. I am reversing myself, and I am going to grant the continuance. So don't bother looking for the tape. It's not going to carry any weight with me.

ISAAC QUEEN: With all due respect, I would- I'm taking late trial dates for March.

Judge PAUL LEARY: OK. March 23rd. Mr. Theiss?

[The case was eventually dismissed.]

VIKTOR THEISS: Yes, Your Honor.

Judge PAUL LEARY: March 23rd.

VIKTOR THEISS: Thank you, Your Honor.

Judge PAUL LEARY: All right? Jury waived. Ms. Jackson, want to read that into the record?

[Meanwhile, Juan Lugo awaits his trial downstairs in the lockup.]

CLERK: Commonwealth versus Tasha Davis, Attorney Medeiros.

Judge PAUL LEARY: OK. How have we-

VIKTOR THEISS: The Commonwealth has answered ready, Your Honor. The alleged victim in the case is upstairs, as long- as well as alleged witness. The dispute seems to hinge over amount of restitution.

LISA MEDEIROS: Ms. Davis tells me that she did not throw a bottle at the car. And she's not prepared to pay any money today, which-

Judge PAUL LEARY: Keeping in mind that she has an assault and battery, ABDW, which she's on a continuance for a finding until November of the year 2000, I think a guilty finding here is going to carry some consequences with her. Before you start your jury trial, just give it to one of your assistants, and then I will be prepared. But- so I'll hold it for trial, then.

VIKTOR THEISS: OK. Thank you, Your Honor. I need to talk with someone, Your Honor. I had to read the file and talk to the witnesses, and I would request 45 minutes. That's realistic.

Judge PAUL LEARY: How about- it's 11 o'clock now. How about by 11:30?

VIKTOR THEISS: OK. My only problem is, I don't know if she's finishing the pretrial session, and she'll have to hand those off. I'll try for 11:30.

Judge PAUL LEARY: Thank you very much.

LISA MEDEIROS: Thank you.

Judge PAUL LEARY: All right, Ms. Medeiros. I'll see you back in this courtroom at 11:30. Mr. Theiss, you're excused now to talk to whoever you are on this matter, and also to commence your jury trial in session number 5.

VIKTOR THEISS: I'll be right with you guys. I got to sign off a trial.

LISA MEDEIROS: Let me get my act together. All right. I got to start focusing on this.

VIKTOR THEISS: How are you looking?

KATE FANGER: I got two more cases. I got two more cases and then I'm finished.

VIKTOR THEISS: All right, then you're doing a trial. It's going to be a tough one. It's Tasha Davis. Basically, she alleges the defendant- the victim alleges the defendant spit on her and threw a beer bottle at her car, causing a dent.

VIKTOR THEISS: All right?

KATE FANGER: Yeah.

VIKTOR THEISS: All right. I'm going to go upstairs quickly to-

KATE FANGER: When am I doing this?

VIKTOR THEISS: At about 11:30.

KATE FANGER: OK.

VIKTOR THEISS: Thank you. I'm just running upstairs to drop my stuff off. I'll be right back.

LISA MEDEIROS: OK, you know what you're charged with?

TASHA DAVIS: Yeah.

LISA MEDEIROS: Why don't you tell me what you're charged with?

TASHA DAVIS: Assault and battery and malicious destruction.

LISA MEDEIROS: Right. What was the penalties that they carry?

TASHA DAVIS: Two and a half years in the house of correction?

LISA MEDEIROS: Yeah. So if they decide you're guilty, you know, then the judge sentences you.

TASHA DAVIS: Yes.

LISA MEDEIROS: OK. And you know what can happen there.

TASHA DAVIS: I can go to jail.

LISA MEDEIROS: Right. And you know that you might have to testify?

TASHA DAVIS: Uh-huh.

LISA MEDEIROS: And you're prepared to do that?

TASHA DAVIS: Yeah.

LISA MEDEIROS: Remember, you have to be very sweet, OK? Even if the person asks you questions that are mean or- just be very sweet, because you got a real sweet side. But you've got another side to you. I don't want to see that there, all right? I don't want to see it. I don't want it to come out. Don't let it rear its ugly head.

Judge EDWARD REDD: Where's the illustrious Mr. Theiss?

BAILIFF: He's right here, Your Honor.

VIKTOR THEISS: Right. I'll- We'll try.

Judge EDWARD REDD: We got to get you some help, Mr. Theiss.

VIKTOR THEISS: I know, Judge. I'm exhausted right now.

Judge EDWARD REDD: Do you think we'll get this trial in today, gentlemen?

DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Yes, Your Honor. Absolutely.

[Judge Edward Redd]

Judge EDWARD REDD: Please be seated.

VIKTOR THEISS: Commonwealth will call Officer McBrian to the stand. What was your assignment that evening, officer?

1st POLICE OFFICER: We were investigating the vicinity for drug usage and drug dealing.

VIKTOR THEISS: And why had you selected that area, sir?

1st POLICE OFFICER: There'd been several community complaints for street-level drug dealing.

JON TAYLOR: You were looking for drug dealers?

1st POLICE OFFICER: Yes.

JON TAYLOR: If you hadn't found any, the shift would have been a wash.

1st POLICE OFFICER: I couldn't categorize it as that. Any surveillance or intelligence I could have gathered would have been helpful to me.

JON TAYLOR: Sure. And a drug transaction of this kind, passing of currency, very valuable direct evidence. Is that correct?

1st POLICE OFFICER: Yes.

JON TAYLOR: But your report, Officer, didn't you write, "appeared to be currency?"

1st POLICE OFFICER: It appeared to be U.S. currency.

JON TAYLOR: You're not certain even that it was money, are you.

1st POLICE OFFICER: Again, I had formed an opinion that it was. I was not completely certain.

JON TAYLOR: All right.

VIKTOR THEISS: About how long were you set up before you saw something?

2nd POLICE OFFICER: Five minutes, six minutes.

VIKTOR THEISS: Did you make any observations at that point?

2nd POLICE OFFICER: Yes. I observed a white Mercury turn onto Ruggles Street from Washington Street. Right after the car entered a parking lot, an individual on a bicycle entered and pulled right up to the driver's side window. It appeared like they were talking briefly, and the hands motioned towards each other. After that, the individual on the bicycle rode to the front door of 19 Ruggles Street.

VIKTOR THEISS: And approximately how long was he inside that building?

2nd POLICE OFFICER: About 4 minutes.

VIKTOR THEISS: And what did he do when he exited the building?

2nd POLICE OFFICER: He rode back into the parking lot and up to the driver's side window.

VIKTOR THEISS: And what did you observe through the binoculars, at that point?

2nd POLICE OFFICER: He reached with his left hand into the driver's side window. The other individual had his hand out, too.

JON TAYLOR: See a bicycle pull up to a car, go into a building, that's going to get your attention, right?

2nd POLICE OFFICER: Along with a short conversation and what appears to be a hand-to-hand exchange, yes.

JON TAYLOR: What appears to be. Didn't see any drugs, did you.

2nd POLICE OFFICER: As far as I know, I did not see any drugs at that time.

JON TAYLOR: That's all I got, Judge.

Judge EDWARD REDD: Officer Maduri, thank you. You may stand down.

2nd POLICE OFFICER: Thank you.

[If the deal took place within 1,000 feet of a school, the sentence is two years longer.]

3rd POLICE OFFICER: We use this wheel, sir, to measure the distance from the point of an arrest to a school, to measure whether or not the arrest and the crime that the person's arrested for occurred within 1,000 feet of a school zone.

VIKTOR THEISS: What was that measurement?

3rd POLICE OFFICER: Seven hundred and twelve feet, sir.

VIKTOR THEISS: Were you measuring from the point of arrest or the point of the alleged sale?

3rd POLICE OFFICER: I was measuring from the point that they were detained.

JON TAYLOR: That would be the point of arrest. So the point of the actual sale could have been closer?

3rd POLICE OFFICER: It could have been closer, or have been further away.

JON TAYLOR: You got no idea.

3rd POLICE OFFICER: Right now, no.

JON TAYLOR: That's all I got.

[Meanwhile, Asst. D.A. Kate Fanger begins her case against Tasha Davis.]

LISA MEDEIROS: [to Davis] Be brave!

[The victim is 19-year-old Melissa Moran.]

KATE FANGER: Good afternoon, Ms. Moran.

MELISSA MORAN: Good afternoon.

KATE FANGER: Is Ms. Davis known to you?

MELISSA MORAN: I went to school with Tasha. They drove up beside me, and Tasha was in the passenger side, I was in the driver's seat. I rolled down my window because she rolled down her window. I didn't think there was going to be any problem because-

KATE FANGER: So she pulled up right beside you?

MELISSA MORAN: Yeah.

KATE FANGER: Facing the same way?

MELISSA MORAN: Yeah. She spit on me, and I mean, in a reaction, I just spit back.

KATE FANGER: When she spit on you, did it hit you?

MELISSA MORAN: Yeah.

KATE FANGER: Where did it hit you?

MELISSA MORAN: All in my face. I felt like something was going to happen after that. I mean, if somebody spits on you, of course that's like an initiation to a fight, so- and then I just drove away. She ended up, like, catching up to me and getting out right beside me and throwing the bottle, and it hit-

KATE FANGER: Where was it- you say "catching up to you." About what speed were you traveling? Do you know?

MELISSA MORAN: We were both speeding. My friend was, like, "She's rolling down the window, about to throw something at you," and I looked and here comes the bottle.

KATE FANGER: And could you describe that bottle?

MELISSA MORAN: It was the largest size of the Alize, a cognac. It was a empty bottle.

KATE FANGER: Did it cause any damage?

MELISSA MORAN: Yeah, it did. It dented the car and made it go in, and broke, like, the paint.

LISA MEDEIROS: Now, you said that when somebody spits on you, that means you want to fight.

MELISSA MORAN: Obviously. I mean-

LISA MEDEIROS: Right. So people who spit on people, they're looking for a fight.

MELISSA MORAN: Basically-

LISA MEDEIROS: And you spit on Tasha Davis, didn't you?

MELISSA MORAN: Yeah. That was to- a reaction to her spitting on me. Am I supposed to just sit there and let somebody spit on me in my face?

LISA MEDEIROS: No, you got to get back in there.

MELISSA MORAN: I didn't say I wanted to fight her, but that was my reaction.

LISA MEDEIROS: That bottle was thrown out at 50 miles an hour, and you had an opportunity to observe the brand name on that bottle. Is that correct?

MELISSA MORAN: I knew what kind of bottle it is. I've drank the liquor before, myself.

LISA MEDEIROS: OK. Were you drinking that night?

MELISSA MORAN: No, I wasn't.

LISA MEDEIROS: OK. You're driving and you're paying attention to the road, right? And you're also looking at the bottle because you even got the brand name, right?

MELISSA MORAN: Yeah.

LISA MEDEIROS: So how do you know-

MELISSA MORAN: I'm trying to see what's hitting my car.

LISA MEDEIROS: You don't know who threw that bottle.

MELISSA MORAN: No, I knew Tasha threw the bottle.

LISA MEDEIROS: You don't know who threw that bottle. It came out of the car. So you were able- you're telling me now-

MELISSA MORAN: I saw Tasha throw the bottle. I saw Tasha throw the bottle out of her car. I saw it.

LISA MEDEIROS: OK. So let me get this straight. You're driving 50 miles an hour, you're running through red lights. It's 4:00 o'clock in the morning, it's dark. You see who throws the bottle, you see the brand name-

MELISSA MORAN: I saw Tasha, yes. Yes, I did. I saw Tasha throw the bottle.

Judge EDWARD REDD: Mr. Lugo? Right there, sir.

JON TAYLOR: Tell the jury what happened.

JUAN LUGO: OK. I was going from work. I was riding my bike. And I got on Washington. I was going down Washington Street, and I saw a white vehicle, so I seen the guy. He come to the car. So I went over there because I seen who was there, I don't know him. I know Jose. So he asked me for Jose. So I told him, I said, "You go." He said, "No. Can you get him for me, because I don't want to go over there." You know what I'm saying? So I did him the favor.

[Lugo claims the man in the car was looking for his friend, Jose.]

VIKTOR THEISS: You came down Shawmut Avenue?

JUAN LUGO: Uh-huh.

VIKTOR THEISS: OK. And what direction do you have to go to get up to Washington Street from Shawmut Avenue?

JUAN LUGO: Excuse me?

VIKTOR THEISS: How did you get onto Washington Street?

JON TAYLOR: Your Honor, maybe you could use chalk.

VIKTOR THEISS: No, Your Honor. I'm asking him from his memory, not from the chalk.

JON TAYLOR: Not fair, Your Honor. He's not the brightest guy in the world.

VIKTOR THEISS: What direction did you turn off Shawmut Street, sir?

JUAN LUGO: I can't recall.

VIKTOR THEISS: You can't recall?

JUAN LUGO: I- I-

VIKTOR THEISS: Now, you live in this neighborhood, right?

JUAN LUGO: Yes, I do.

VIKTOR THEISS: And you know the streets?

JUAN LUGO: Yes, I do.

VIKTOR THEISS: And you can't recall which direction you turned off Shawmut?

JUAN LUGO: No, sir. I came up down Washington Street.

VIKTOR THEISS: So it wasn't Shawmut Street?

JUAN LUGO: No, it wasn't Shawmut. It was Washington Street.

VIKTOR THEISS: So now it's Washington Street.

JUAN LUGO: It's Washington Street.

VIKTOR THEISS: And how far is the parking lot from the corner of Washington and Ruggles Street?

JUAN LUGO: Half a block.

VIKTOR THEISS: Half a block. And you heard him calling out your name?

JUAN LUGO: Yeah, he was turning right there and I seen him. And he asked me for Jose.

VIKTOR THEISS: OK. So he's turning in his car now?

JUAN LUGO: Yes.

VIKTOR THEISS: So he's not in the parking lot?

JUAN LUGO: He's in- yeah. He's turning.

VIKTOR THEISS: I have no further questions.

[After lunch, the lawyers will present closing arguments to the jury.]

VIKTOR THEISS: It went great, though. His cross examination. He lied. He lied his ass off. But it came out pretty good. He didn't know which way he turned on the street. He said he was coming up Shawmut Avenue. I asked him, "Sir, what direction do you go to get onto Ruggles?"

This is my "back when I was making money" suit.

INTERVIEWER: When was that?

VIKTOR THEISS: When I was at Fidelity. Then I could go to Filene's Basement and like big suits.

INTERVIEWER: You're not making enough money now?

VIKTOR THEISS: No. No.

INTERVIEWER: How much are you making now?

VIKTOR THEISS: How much am I making now? Forty-two.

INTERVIEWER: Forty-two? Wouldn't cops make more?

VIKTOR THEISS: What? Do cops make more? Hell, yeah! I'd be rich if I was a cop.

SECRETARY: Jason from Central Pontiac.

VIKTOR THEISS: I don't know anyone at Central Pontiac.

Yeah, baby!

It went really well. I mean, nothing ever goes the way you expect it. I totally didn't expect Sergeant Walsh to say he measured the school zone from the point of arrest because you're supposed to measure it from the point of the sale. My biggest problem, and I could lose this case just because the officers did not see drugs. They did not see, you know, concrete cash. They saw, like, a green object passed back and forth.

JON TAYLOR: I'm feeling a certain amount of responsibility right now. But I'm ready. I'm prepared. And we'll see how it goes. At the same time, anxiety, the terror, the nausea are overwhelming. And I've been doing this for long enough to know that it doesn't go away.

JON TAYLOR: Just possibly a set of circumstances that were very unlucky for Mr. Lugo were set into play because the entire operation was under a high degree of surveillance. They saw the Hispanic kid roll up on the white car. They saw the hands come close together. Appeared to be currency. Very easy. If it turns out not, what's the down side? None.

Now, you think that sitting right where he's sitting, looking at, you know, all the street lines and everything, he would have been a little bit clearer about what corners he turned and where he was going and all that, except for one thing. The boy's illiterate in two languages, and all of this is Greek to him. So he's telling you out of memory what he was doing, coming home after a hard day's work.

Is he dressed like a wannabe drug dealer? Got the gold chains, got the bracelet, got the good watch, got the hot shoes, got the good fast clothes? The man is dressed like what he is dressed. He had worked a full day. He looked like a laborer. He was laborer. Might be looking at him, maybe a drug dealer, not quite sure. Certainly the Boston Police think so. Certainly Mr. Theiss thinks so. All right. Certainly, on these circumstances, hell, why not?

More likely than not. It's a good enough reason to bust somebody. But folks, it ain't a good enough reason to convict.

VIKTOR THEISS: Defense counsel would have you believe that they went out there with the sole intent to arrest someone, no matter what, because their shift will be a wash. If that's the case, why didn't they make their job a heck of a lot easier and tell you that they saw the currency and they saw the drugs? But no. Officer Deary at no time testifies can he see- could he see drugs.

Does that mean that there can be no finding of guilty? Absolutely not. The judge is going to instruct you that you are entitled to draw inferences, that circumstantial evidence is absolutely appropriate. And when you put it together with what happened, what does it add up to?

I would ask you to come back with a finding of guilty. And I'd also ask you to pay the careful attention to the issue of measurements. And if you find that the 712 feet up here is further than this parking lot, and that that's 712, then this has to be closer, and that where the actual transaction took place was well within 1,000 feet. I thank you for your attention.

[to Jon Taylor] I'll tell you, I think you got it. Not having the drugs, man, not seeing the drugs, that's a bitch for me.

[During the break, Melissa and her mother meet with Kate Fanger.]

KATE FANGER: You're talking about her getting away with stuff. The fact that you stuck it out to keep coming back on the case, and that you came today when you didn't want to- forget about what it says to the jurors and think about, on whatever level, what it says to Tasha. And that is that at some point, someone's going to say, "No, you can't keep getting away with it."

Even if she gets a "not guilty" and she does a little dance around the courtroom, thinking she's beat you, thumbs your nose at you, whatever, it's never going to take away those minutes or however long it takes- minutes, half hours, hours- that she wondered. They'll remember it.

MELISSA MORAN: Yeah.

KATE FANGER: Even if they - quote, unquote - "get away with it." So either way it goes, you know, there's something worth-

MELISSA MORAN: All right.

KATE FANGER: Yeah, definitely. There's something worth having done this. And I appreciate it.

MELISSA MORAN: I appreciate it too.

KATE FANGER: OK. I'll see you a little after 2:00.

LISA MEDEIROS: I'm going to call Ms. Tasha Davis.

TASHA DAVIS: I was, like, "Melissa, Chris told me you slept with him." And she's, like, "I didn't sleep with him. I didn't sleep with him." Our window was rolled up.

LISA MEDEIROS: Rolled up all the way?

TASHA DAVIS: No. It was cracked. We could hear them.

LISA MEDEIROS: Show me how much there was open.

TASHA DAVIS: About like this. So we could hear each other, what we're saying to each other.

LISA MEDEIROS: OK.

TASHA DAVIS: So then I spit at her. But the spit did not hit her, because our window was rolled up.

LISA MEDEIROS: Did you spit at her?

TASHA DAVIS: I spit. I spat at the car.

LISA MEDEIROS: And did it hit the car?

TASHA DAVIS: Yes.

LISA MEDEIROS: Did it hit her?

TASHA DAVIS: No.

LISA MEDEIROS: Did you mean to hit her with the spit?

TASHA DAVIS: Yes.

LISA MEDEIROS: But you didn't.

TASHA DAVIS: No.

LISA MEDEIROS: And then what happened after you spit at her?

TASHA DAVIS: I walked back to the car. She spit at me, and I walked back to the car.

LISA MEDEIROS: Wait a minute. When she spit at you-

TASHA DAVIS: She rolled down her window and she spit at me.

LISA MEDEIROS: OK. And where did that end up, that-

TASHA DAVIS: It landed on my clothes.

LISA MEDEIROS: But yours landed on her car?

TASHA DAVIS: Uh-huh.

KATE FANGER:: Still thinking that she slept with your boyfriend, you considered her a friend?

TASHA DAVIS: I mean, that's why I want the explanation, to find out. "You were supposed to be my friend, but you slept with my boyfriend."

KATE FANGER:: Are you ready to forgive her now, two months later?

TASHA DAVIS: I was ready to forgive her after the night at the food court.

KATE FANGER:: But you didn't forgive her that night, did you? You spit on her, didn't you.

TASHA DAVIS: I didn't spit on her.

KATE FANGER:: Wasn't it your testimony just now in direct that you spit at her?

TASHA DAVIS: I did not tell you I spit on her. I said the spit hit the car.

KATE FANGER:: But you were spitting at her, weren't you.

TASHA DAVIS: Yes.

KATE FANGER:: So you're confronting somebody you consider a friend, with cheating with your boyfriend. So it's really cheating on your friendship, as well as cheating with your boyfriend.

TASHA DAVIS: Yes.

KATE FANGER:: And you spit at her. And you're in a forgiving frame of mind. Is that your testimony?

TASHA DAVIS: Uh-huh.

KATE FANGER:: In fact, what happened that night, Ms. Davis, is that you pulled up beside Ms. Moran's car, didn't you. And then you rolled down your window, didn't you. And you spit down, since the Jeep was higher than her car, and that spit hit her in the face, didn't it.

TASHA DAVIS: No.

KATE FANGER: You caught up with her at some point, and you threw a cognac bottle at her car, didn't you.

TASHA DAVIS: No.

KATE FANGER: I have nothing further.

LISA MEDEIROS: This is hard, because now we've got to wait. And I think it's OK, though. I think we won.

[If he's found guilty, Lugo faces five years in prison.]

JON TAYLOR: What do you think? You got any feeling?

JUAN LUGO: Yes, I do.

JON TAYLOR: Tell me

JUAN LUGO: Not good.

JON TAYLOR: Not good? I don't know. I think we may have reached that jury, you know? If they were really going to be quick to convict, and just take a fast vote and say, "Let's get it over with, we all want to go home," they would have been back by now, you know? I don't think they're going to finish today. I hope that they don't. They've been deliberating for 45 minutes. Give them 5 minutes to get coffee and introduce themselves to each other. They probably are taking their first vote now and- in other words, if it goes past today, I'm feeling better about it, all right?

JUAN LUGO: It's OK.

JON TAYLOR: OK.

JUAN LUGO: See you later.

JON TAYLOR: Good enough.

BAILIFF: This court is in session. Please be seated. Court all rise, please. Jury's entering.

CLERK: Mr. Foreman, has your jury agreed upon a verdict?

JURY FOREMAN: Yes.

CLERK: Is she guilty or not guilty?

JURY FOREMAN: Not guilty.

CLERK: And what say you, Mr. Foreman, as to the complaint charging Tasha Davis with assault and battery? Is she guilty or not guilty?

JURY FOREMAN: Not guilty.

CLERK: Members of the Jury, listen to your verdict as the court has reported it.

LISA MEDEIROS: All right, we're done.

TASHA DAVIS: We're done.

LISA MEDEIROS: Good job. Stay out of court. This is your only chance, your only break. No more. Go be a teacher or something.

TASHA DAVIS: I know.

LISA MEDEIROS: And the court officer said stay out of the streets at 4:30 in the morning.

TASHA DAVIS: I know. He said till I'm 21.

LISA MEDEIROS: All right. 'Bye.

TASHA DAVIS: 'Bye, Lisa. Thank you.

KATE FANGER: "Not guilty," "Not guilty." So that's how it goes. The mother of the victim- the victim was not at all surprised. The only thing she really had to say is, "Let's go. I'm hungry. I want to eat."

VIKTOR THEISS: What a f-king day!

I have to look at all tomorrow's cases, go through all of these serious, specially assigned cases to make sure that they get done. I have to process my jury trials so they don't gather dust on my desk, and then look at my stack of phone messages so that I can decide who is to be called back. That one doesn't, so-

JON TAYLOR: And what a circus this was this morning! This isn't yet. All of those people, and needing this building so badly for one reason or another. You know, the courthouse really is the heart of the community. It's a pleasure coming in here.

VIKTOR THEISS: Where's Patricia?

STAFFER: I don't know. She's here, though.

VIKTOR THEISS: Down to the session to get my verdict, my "not guilty," big, fat "not guilty."

INTERVIEWER: Why do you think it's not guilty?

VIKTOR THEISS: I've never had anyone deliberate this long on a case before, and I just think, since they were hung for so long, that it has to be a "not guilty."

VIKTOR THEISS: I'll be very surprised.

BAILIFF: Court all rise, please. Jurors entering.

CLERK: Will the jury please rise? Will the defendant also please rise and face the jury? What say you, Mr. Foreman, as to the complaint charging Juan A. Lugo with manufacturing, distribution, dispensing of Class A substance, 1,000 feet of a school zone? Is the defendant guilty or not guilty?

JURY FOREMAN: Not guilty.

CLERK: Members of the jury, listen to your verdict as the court has recorded it.

VIKTOR THEISS: I'd love to talk to the jurors. I mean, I'd love, in an ideal world, to get to have them all, you know- if they had little questionnaires they filled out afterwards. I'd love for them to put comments, just to get some sense of how they think about a case because it's still, for the most part- even after, you know, a whole bunch of trials, it's still a mystery.

[Rebecca Shenahan, juror.]

REBECCA SHENAHAN: We all sort of talked and worked together to figure out what was fact and what we were actually assuming or inferring. And when we broke down the facts, we found that the police just didn't give us enough facts. We all believed- our entire jury believed that he was drug dealing that night, but we didn't have enough facts to prove it.

JON TAYLOR: The system works. The system works. God bless 'em! I cannot tell you the relief, the elation that I'm feeling right now. I know it's a stupid, small matter, but I just don't care. Right now I feel like a king. The system works, and I got a role in it, and the people listened. It is thrilling!

VIKTOR THEISS: Got to get the game on for tomorrow, so- at least I have a victim in that case, so it's easier to get fired up. You have someone that something bad happened to, that you have to put forth before a jury. And I think that case is a pretty good case. Well, look, I think most of the cases I take to trial are pretty good, or I wouldn't be taking them to trial. So what do I know? I got to get to work here.

LISA MEDEIROS: Look at this traffic! We're going over to East Boston court. It's a small court. I really think it's a community court. It's a- the judge is Judge Dominic Russo, and he's been in that court for a long time. He grew up in the community. He knows the people in the community. And he knows their parents and their grandparents, and they all know him. Most of the people grew up there and live there and have been before Judge Russo numerous times.

BAILIFF: Hear ye, hear ye, hear ye! All persons having anything to do before the Honorable Justice of this District Court of East Boston in the said county of Suffolk, draw near. Give your attendance and you shall be heard. God save the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The Honorable Dominic J.F. Russo, presiding. Please be seated. Court is now in session.

[Lisa's first client today is Pedro Tejada.]

LISA MEDEIROS: Pedro Tejada is one guy. He speaks only Spanish. But the first case that he had, he picked up a case where he was accused of hitting his mother. He tells me it was an accident. He was drunk, and she was trying to calm him down. He's having a fit, and his arm flung, hit her in the face. Few days later, he picks up another case, accused of hitting his girlfriend. So how he's got two cases, both accidents, mother and girlfriend. He accidentally just hits a lot of people.

LISA MEDEIROS: OK. Pedro, you remember last time we were together? You had the one case with your mom. And the district attorney was agreeing to maybe dismiss it, once she talked to the police officers, because it was an accident. But coincidentally, you picked up the second case with your girlfriend. OK. You have the choice of, one, putting it on for a jury trial-

I have to go! I'll be right back.

CLERK: Your Honor, Mr. Hynes was summonsed in this morning on Commonwealth's complaint, a complaint that alleges on June first of 1999, he did steal the property of one Joanne Riccobini. The court will appoint attorney Medeiros to represent you.

Judge DOMINIC RUSSO: Ms. Medeiros, this matter will have to be scheduled for a day that I'm not sitting. I'm very familiar with Mr. Hynes. He painted my house, and I don't believe I should handle any further matters other than this arraignment. By the way, I was satisfied with the job he did.

LISA MEDEIROS: Oh.

LISA MEDEIROS: OK. Pedro, you have to understand what's going on. You can't just tell me that you want me to pick the best choice for you. This is your decision. Oh, no interpreter!

[Lisa is meeting her next client, Lisa McDonald, for the first time. McDonald has 10 outstanding complaints.]

LISA MEDEIROS: OK. You broke your ankle. Do you have documentation from the hospital that-

LISA McDONALD: I do have it at home. Yes, I do.

LISA MEDEIROS: You didn't bring it with you?

LISA McDONALD: I forgot it at home. No.

LISA MEDEIROS: Let me tell you what the problem that we have is. You have a whole bunch of cases, and you just keep defaulting. And that's why the DA's frustrated, because she thinks if you get out of here again, you're not going to come the next time because of the history.

LISA McDONALD: I know.

LISA MEDEIROS: But you know what? Because you came in today, that really helps. Why don't you tell me a little bit about you, first? How old are you?

LISA McDONALD: Thirty-four.

LISA MEDEIROS: And do you have any kids?

LISA McDONALD: I have a 7-year-old child.

LISA MEDEIROS: Does the child live with you?

LISA McDONALD: No.

LISA MEDEIROS: What kind of drugs? Heroin?

LISA McDONALD: Yes.

LISA MEDEIROS: OK. So, are you still using?

LISA McDONALD: No, I'm not.

LISA MEDEIROS: How long you been clean?

LISA McDONALD: Since September.

LISA MEDEIROS: Good. So is that why you defaulted on some of the cases?

LISA McDONALD: Yes.

LISA MEDEIROS: All right, all right. I'm going to try to help you, all right? I know that you're really scared they're going to take you in custody, right?

[to judge] Your Honor, Ms. McDonald tells me that the reason she wasn't here the last court date is because she just broke her ankle. As you can see, she's injured.

Judge DOMINIC RUSSO: I'll just ask one question, Ms. McDonald. When you knew you weren't coming in, why didn't you call? We're on a first-name basis. Practically everyone here in the court knows you.

LISA MEDEIROS: Your Honor, let me tell you a little bit about what's happening. As you can see, she hobbled in here on her own. She has every intention to handle these cases.

Judge DOMINIC RUSSO: Ms. McDonald makes it a habit. I'm looking at her record, and every single complaint here indicates a default.

PROSECUTOR: Judge, if I may speak to that? I would suggest that the only reason she came in this morning is because her friend or her boyfriend also has a pending matter here this morning.

Judge DOMINIC RUSSO: Seven, eight, nine, ten open complaints.

LISA MEDEIROS: Perhaps we could do some kind of a special conditions of release, that she check in with the Probation Department here while she's-

Judge DOMINIC RUSSO: I was thinking that. See, you read my mind. My concern is, these matters are outstanding and they should be resolved.

LISA McDONALD: I want to start over and get my child back. I have no problem to clear them up, Your Honor. And I can prove it by coming back to court next time.

Judge DOMINIC RUSSO: And report to Probation before you leave.

LISA MEDEIROS: I know that you have a lot of issues and a lot of things to deal with. You must come to court.

LISA McDONALD: Uh-huh.

LISA MEDEIROS: And you did it today. You dragged yourself here with a broken foot. Well, what I'm saying is, if you don't come on our next court date, it's over for you.

VIKTOR THEISS: Where are my victims? Where are my victims?

I call you guys the victims. I feel bad. I'm running around the office, going, "Where are my victims?" Come on, you guys. Have a seat.

[Dan Stephens and Brian Clague claim they were assaulted in the street.]

VIKTOR THEISS: It's really your testimony versus his testimony.

BRIAN CLAGUE: Uh-huh.

VIKTOR THEISS: The biggest issue that we have is the Civil Rights issue. I'm going to tell them in my opening that it's very important that they consider the right of every citizen, regardless of race, color, creed, sexual orientation, any identifying factor, to conduct the ordinary business of life free from harassment, that we all have the right to go to the ATM, that we all have the right to go to shop, get our groceries, without having to be threatened.

[Damion Howell is the defendant.]

DAMION HOWELL: If I hadn't grown up in the inner city, you know, Leonard Street housing projects, and if I wasn't a black male, it wouldn't have happened like this. It wouldn't have gone this far.

[Greg Gonzales is Damion's lawyer.]

GREG GONZALES: This case is absurd. He's absolutely not guilty. The charges of Civil Rights violations and any anti-gay language is just ludicrous.

[Vik has one independent, though reluctant, witness.]

VIKTOR THEISS: [on the telephone] Hi. Can I speak to Rick Wayland, please? Can you tell him Viktor Theiss is calling from the district attorney's office, and it's very important I speak with him? Thanks.

He's in a meeting. Typically, the district attorney's office tends to get people out of meetings.

Hey, Rick. It's Viktor calling. I really need you to be here. And I know you don't want to, but unfortunately it's not a good thing all around. So you know, basically, we can do it an easy way, a hard way, a middle way. I'm prepared to go any way. I just eventually need to have you be here.

I know the reluctance, and I face it all the time. But you have critical information of this case. You saw what happened at the end, and you're a third party that saw him. The jury's going to give your testimony a lot of weight. And it's unfair for me to throw Brian and Dan up there and then simply have the defense say, "Hey, it's just his word against theirs," when that's not really the case.

All right, thanks.

He has a tough time making it here today for the obvious reasons: work. But he said he can be here tomorrow morning.

[Meanwhile, downstairs, Lisa Medeiros is getting her latest case assignments.]

LISA MEDEIROS: I know. That's why I like it. OK, next one. Elijah Clay, but he also has an alias.

PROSECUTOR: Here it is under Elijah.

LISA MEDEIROS: You're not asking for anyone else today, right?

I'm getting all the police reports of the new clients that are have been appointed to me, that were arrested overnight. If I have the police reports and their records, I can make better a bail argument. He's given me all of the information that he has before we get up there in front of the judge.

[Judge Leary's office]

BAILIFF: All rise, please. Good afternoon. Please be seated. Court's now in session. Folks, please don't talk in the courtroom. Thank you.

Judge PAUL LEARY: All right, Mr. Plaza, Lopez and Medina, you all speak English?

MEDINA: Yes, we do.

Judge PAUL LEARY: Who represents Mr. Plaza? Who represents Mr. Lopez? And Ms. Medeiros, you represent Mr. Medina?

LISA MEDEIROS: Yes, sir.

Judge PAUL LEARY: Ms. Medeiros, do you represent Mr. Medina?

LISA MEDEIROS: Yes, sir.

Judge PAUL LEARY: OK. Is there a record on Mr. Medina?

LISA MEDEIROS: Hi, Mr. Medina. Do you have a record?

MEDINA: No, not me.

LISA MEDEIROS: Never been in trouble before?

MEDINA: I've been in trouble before, but this is the first case I've picked up in, like, three years.

Judge PAUL LEARY: I'm looking at the records here. I don't know whether there's going to be bail request or not. But with the amount of stolen motor vehicles, there may very well be. So I'm going to give you a chance to talk to the defendants.

LISA MEDEIROS: What's the charge?

MEDINA: Receiving a stolen motor vehicle.

LISA MEDEIROS: OK. Who was driving?

MEDINA: Me. I'm taking it up here, I'm pleading guilty to everything.

LISA MEDEIROS: Listen to me. Don't say anything.

MEDINA: He caught me red-handed.

LISA MEDEIROS: Listen. Shhh. I want you to stop right now. This is what we're going to do, OK? You plead not guilty today, all right?

MEDINA: OK.

LISA MEDEIROS: We're going to put you on- get you another court date. Then you come into my office. Let me get the police report. Let's look at it. Maybe you're absolutely right, but let me look at things first, OK?

MEDINA: OK, OK.

LISA MEDEIROS: Just slow down.

[Chitrayan Sharma is accused of trespassing and stealing at a college library.]

LISA MEDEIROS: Well, he's homeless.

Judge PAUL LEARY: Ms. Medeiros, is there anything you can say about Mr.-

LISA MEDEIROS: Well, he's homeless and he doesn't have anyplace to go.

Judge PAUL LEARY: He's not going to be homeless after tonight. He's defaulted five times, the last time on a motion date. I mean, it's just- he's had four attorneys. You're the fifth attorney on the case, or the fourth. You're the fifth attorney on the case.

That's absolutely just an insult to the system. You just don't show up, sir.

CHITRAYAN SHARMA: Sir, I was sick.

Judge PAUL LEARY: You weren't sick on all of those days.

LISA MEDEIROS: [to prosecutor] He's saying, on his life, he's never stolen in 40 years. But he'll be on probation for six months for the trespass.

No? All right.

[to Sharma] They're not willing to drop the last thing.

Judge PAUL LEARY: Ms. Medeiros, have you talked to Mr. Sharma about a possible resolution, or have you talked to the prosecutor about it?

LISA MEDEIROS: He said he was willing to plead guilty to the trespass, but he says in 40 years he's never stolen anything. Commonwealth-

Judge PAUL LEARY: Nothing? Never?

LISA MEDEIROS: That's what he says.

CHITRAYAN SHARMA: Yeah.

Judge PAUL LEARY: Isn't that amazing? He's just got a conviction in Malden for shoplifting. So his statement that he never steals anything doesn't carry much water. How much was taken from the victim?

PROSECUTOR: Everything was recovered, I believe, but I'm not positive.

Judge PAUL LEARY: Everything was recovered?

PROSECUTOR: I'm not positive, but I believe so.

Judge PAUL LEARY: Ms. Medeiros, if he wants to plead guilty today to the trespassing, I'd give him a straight one-year probation. He'd be on supervised probation for a year. And the larceny case, if there's no objection, I'll dismiss it.

LISA MEDEIROS: Yes, sir. He does agree to that, because we spoke in the lockup. But if I could just have literally three minutes, and I'll go over his right, the waiver of rights?

Judge PAUL LEARY: Sure.

LISA MEDEIROS: And then we'll be ready to turn in the green sheet.

Judge PAUL LEARY: Is this your last case?

LISA MEDEIROS: I believe it is.

[to Sharma] You're giving up your right to remain silent. You're giving up your right to take this to a jury trial and make the Commonwealth prove that you were trespassing.

Judge PAUL LEARY: OK, Mr. Sharma. Did you go over this green form with Attorney Medeiros? And has she explain to you each and every right that you would have if you wanted to proceed, either with a motion or a jury trial or a jury-waived trial?

CHITRAYAN SHARMA: No, sir.

Judge PAUL LEARY: She hasn't? Well, she signed it, and you signed it after saying that she's gone over this.

CHITRAYAN SHARMA: I have Lisa.

Judge PAUL LEARY: Well, did she go- Ms. Medeiros. She just took 10 minutes to go in there and talk to you about it. Has she talked to you about this green form?

CHITRAYAN SHARMA: Yeah. That agreement, I have to report and to-

Judge PAUL LEARY: But even before you get to the probation part of it, do you know - and I'm sure Ms. Medeiros has explained to you - you have a right to confront your accusers, you have a right to sit back under a presumption of innocence, you have a right to a jury trial, and it would be up to them to return a verdict as to whether or not you would be guilty or not guilty, and their verdict would have to be unanimous. Do you understand, sir, that you have that absolute right?

CHITRAYAN SHARMA: Yes, Your Honor.

Judge PAUL LEARY: Do you understand at this time that you are waiving this right and you are proceeding on a guilty plea on the charge of trespassing? How old are you, sir?

CHITRAYAN SHARMA: Forty years.

Judge PAUL LEARY: How far have you gone in school?

CHITRAYAN SHARMA: Master's in English, master's in history, master's in library science, doing my Ph.D. at Northeastern.

Judge PAUL LEARY: And where did you attain all of these master's degrees?

CHITRAYAN SHARMA: In India.

Judge PAUL LEARY: All right. Has anything been said by Ms. Medeiros, by the prosecutor, and especially the court, that's put you in a position that you feel in any way pressured into pleading guilty to this charge of trespassing?

CHITRAYAN SHARMA: Sir, trespassing- at that time in 1990, I just came from India. I just went to the library at Northeastern, and I was reading "People" paper. And they said, "You're not a student." So they made me a trespassing. I was not knowing it that what is a trespassing at that time.

Judge PAUL LEARY: Sir. Can I see his record again, please?

LISA MEDEIROS: You know, Mr. Sharma, if you don't want to plead guilty today, you don't have to. We can put it on for another day. But they'll hold you. OK?

CHITRAYAN SHARMA: Sir?

Judge PAUL LEARY: Excuse me, sir. Sir, I'm going to- you tell me you have three master's degrees and you're studying for your Ph.D., so I have to draw an inference that you're intelligent, unless you're lying to me. So if you're intelligent, I'm going to ask you one more time. Do you plead guilty to this offense, freely and willingly, because you were trespassing on the property over at Northeastern University?

CHITRAYAN SHARMA: No, sir.

Judge PAUL LEARY: Fine. I'm going to withdraw your appeal, or in fact, your tender. I'm going to hold you on bail for a future date.

LISA MEDEIROS: [to lockup guard] Hi. Hey Georgie. Do you know where Mr. Sherman is?

GUARD: Sherman? Sharma, right?

LISA MEDEIROS: Sharma, yeah. Mr. Sharma! Hello.

CHITRAYAN SHARMA: I don't understand what it is-

LISA MEDEIROS: I know you don't understand. But you know what? Let me explain it to you. I made the arrangement with the district attorney and the judge to have you only do a guilty plea for the trespass only. But then when we went there in front of the judge, and the judge asked if you trespassed, you kept saying, "No, I didn't." If you didn't know that you weren't supposed to be there, if nobody ever told you you had to go away, or if there wasn't a sign, he can't accept a guilty plea from you. Now, the other option is- the case is still open, and you're held on $500 cash bail. I know you can't make that. That's why-

CHITRAYAN SHARMA: I'm homeless, without work!

LISA MEDEIROS: That's why we were trying to negotiate a plea. But you just weren't able to say that you were trespassing.

CHITRAYAN SHARMA: But 28 days I have to stay in jail?

LISA MEDEIROS: That's right. That's why we were trying to negotiate the plea.

CHITRAYAN SHARMA: No, what about that probation?

LISA MEDEIROS: I can try and see if he'll listen to your case.

CHITRAYAN SHARMA: Yeah, please.

LISA MEDEIROS: Were you trespassing at Northeastern?

CHITRAYAN SHARMA: Yeah.

LISA MEDEIROS: You were? Are you sure?

CHITRAYAN SHARMA: Yeah.

LISA MEDEIROS: You want to enter a guilty plea for trespassing?

CHITRAYAN SHARMA: Yes.

LISA MEDEIROS: Do you understand what that means?

CHITRAYAN SHARMA: Yes.

LISA MEDEIROS: What does that mean? Tell me.

CHITRAYAN SHARMA: That without being a student, I went to the library.

LISA MEDEIROS: I can try to ask the judge to hear it again, but I'm not sure it can happen today. We might have to wait till the 28th.

CHITRAYAN SHARMA: Please try today. Twenty-eight days-

LISA MEDEIROS: I know.

CHITRAYAN SHARMA: If I don't work, I don't know how I can- inside- there is no one here. I am alone.

LISA MEDEIROS: I know.

CHITRAYAN SHARMA: My whole family is in India.

LISA MEDEIROS: Let me go see-

CHITRAYAN SHARMA: How can I pay?

LISA MEDEIROS: I understand that. So let me go ask and see. But the problem is, I don't want you to plead guilty to something you're not guilty of.

CHITRAYAN SHARMA: OK.

LISA MEDEIROS: Well, I'm going to try. But nobody's going to be too happy with me because it makes work for people at 5 o'clock on a Monday. We'll try.

Is anybody in first session still?

GUARD: Yes.

LISA MEDEIROS: I'm going to bring that guy Sharma back on, try to do a plea. He wants to do a plea now.

COURT OFFICER: OK.

LISA MEDEIROS: Mr. Sharma wants to plea and is going to go through with it. And I was thinking that we could do it-

COURT OFFICER: I doubt if Judge Leary-

LISA MEDEIROS: He's on the bench with a restraining order right now.

COURT OFFICER: Yeah, but is he going to take the plea?

LISA MEDEIROS: He's going to do it. I just went and talked to him.

COURT OFFICER: Oh, he is?

LISA MEDEIROS: He's going to do it.

COURT OFFICER: Where is he now? Is he still here?

LISA MEDEIROS: He's still here, and we're ready to do it.

Call in some favors here.

Judge PAUL LEARY: Hi, Mr. Sharma. I understand that you have talked to Ms. Medeiros. She's explained to you-

CHITRAYAN SHARMA: Yes, Your Honor.

Judge PAUL LEARY: All right. And then again I'll ask you, were you on that property over at Northeastern University after having been informed that you didn't have any right to be there?

CHITRAYAN SHARMA: Yes, Your Honor.

Judge PAUL LEARY: All right. Count two is dismissed at the request of the Commonwealth. That was the larceny charge. And on count one it's guilty with one year probation, supervised. Supervision fee is waived. But you'll have to comply with all of the terms and conditions of probation and talk to the Probation Department and maybe, with a person with your intellect, that they might be able to get you a job.

CHITRAYAN SHARMA: Thank you very much, sir.

Judge PAUL LEARY: OK. Good luck.

LISA MEDEIROS: Thank you very much.

Judge PAUL LEARY: You're welcome, Ms. Medeiros. Does that conclude the business of today?

CLERK: Yes.

Judge PAUL LEARY: All right. I want to thank everybody for their patience and time. Thank you.

LISA MEDEIROS: Thank you, sir.

Judge PAUL LEARY: Ms. Medeiros.

SHIRLEY: Good evening.

LISA MEDEIROS: Good-night. Thank you, Shirley.

[to Sharma] Look at you! All right! That was a close call. [laughs] That's good news. All right. Good luck, now. OK? Do it right. Do what they tell you.

CHITRAYAN SHARMA: I will give you a call.

LISA MEDEIROS: Please do. And I'll help you if you have some questions, all right? 'Bye, Mr. Sharma.

See, I'm glad he got out. But almost I was thinking when we were doing it that if he had spent 28 days in jail, it might have been a better- it could have been a better idea, because then when he came back, we would have pled him to time served, and he wouldn't have probation, which he might not- you know, he might have trouble answering to them when they tell him.

But then I thought, on the other hand, probation might be a good thing because he has supervision and structure, and they might be able to help him find a job and somebody to talk to him about community programs and- because he's kind of just out there on his own right now. So Probation will put him on the structure that maybe- we'll see.

[Brian Clague is a professional violinist. He has lived with his partner, Dan Stephens, for nine years.]

BRIAN CLAGUE: People don't realize how dangerous it is for us here. You know, for every case like this that comes forward, there are thousands that never come forward, where somebody has been either beat up or been threatened or seriously endangered. I was pleasantly surprised by the response of the police and of the district attorney's office. I think that they took it very seriously. I think they got it.

Judge PAUL LEARY: You may call your first witness.

VIKTOR THEISS: Thank you, Your Honor. Commonwealth calls Brian Clague to the stand. Call your attention to June 18, 1999. Do you remember that evening?

BRIAN CLAGUE: Yes, very clearly. We left our home on Hemenway Street, and we walked down Westland Avenue to Bread and Circus. And then I realized I needed to get cash. And so Dan went into Bread and Circus to start shopping, and I went around the corner to the cash machine to get some money.

And then all of a sudden I heard behind me, "Excuse you, faggot!" Well, I looked over my shoulder to see who was screaming, "Excuse you, faggot." And it was the defendant. He was looking at me and he goes, "Yeah, you, faggot. Excuse you."

VIKTOR THEISS: And what did you do at that point?

BRIAN CLAGUE: I just kept walking.

VIKTOR THEISS: Did you say anything?

BRIAN CLAGUE: I said, "F-k you" over my shoulder.

VIKTOR THEISS: Now, why did you do that?

BRIAN CLAGUE: Because I didn't want him calling me a faggot.

[Damion Howell claims Brian Clague bumped into his 5-year-old son.]

VIKTOR THEISS: Where you upset at that point?

BRIAN CLAGUE: Yes.

VIKTOR THEISS: At any point did you have contact with the child?

BRIAN CLAGUE: No.

VIKTOR THEISS: You never knocked anyone to the ground?

BRIAN CLAGUE: Absolutely not.

VIKTOR THEISS: OK. Did you hear the defendant say anything else?

BRIAN CLAGUE: The defendant followed me, and he was saying a number of things. He said, "Come back here and excuse yourself, you f-king queer," and, "Where are you going? Where are you walking so fast?" And then he said, "I have- come back here. I have a brand new pair of steel-toed Timberlands, and I'm going to kick your f-king head in until you're dead, you f-king queer."

VIKTOR THEISS: And how did that make you feel?

BRIAN CLAGUE: I was very upset and frightened.

[Dan joined Brian inside. As they were leaving, Damion's car passed by.]

BRIAN CLAGUE: The car stopped, and he came over and he said, "Come here, you faggot." I turned around immediately and went back into Bread and Circus and told the woman at the front desk to call 911.

VIKTOR THEISS: What happened after you'd come out? You see Dan and the defendant. What was Damion's demeanor like?

BRIAN CLAGUE: Damion was very excited, very angry, and he was waving his arms around and he was screaming at Dan. He said, "Do you think I'm attracted to you?" And he went like this, and he hit Dan in the chest. And Dan backed up even further.

VIKTOR THEISS: What happened after that?

BRIAN CLAGUE: He said, "You want to find me? My name is Damion." And he said-

VIKTOR THEISS: Only if you recall, sir.

BRIAN CLAGUE: Well, I'm trying to recall. He said, "My name is Damion." He said, "Remember," he said, "if you file a complaint against me, your name and address is going to be on that complaint. And I will find you. Your name and address. And I will find you. And I will kill you."

VIKTOR THEISS: OK. What occurred as you were leaving the Bread and Circus?

DAN STEPHENS: The details of exactly what he said are a little foggy to me because I was preparing myself for a sucker punch, or I was in survival mode myself. And- and this one statement in particular stood out in my mind. He said, "I should just punch the f-k out of you because it's Friday night."

VIKTOR THEISS: I have no further questions at this time.

BRIAN CLAGUE: Thank you.

GREG GONZALES: You felt that he was going after you and your partner because of your orientation.

BRIAN CLAGUE: It became clear to me that when Mr. Howell threatened to bash my head in, and just because it was Friday night, after he had touched me and I didn't affirm his heterosexuality, that there was a strong undercurrent of homophobia.

GREG GONZALES: OK. But Mr. Howell did say, "I don't care if you're white, black, Spanish, gay, or straight. You got a problem with my kid, you have a problem with me," something to that effect, didn't he?

BRIAN CLAGUE: Yeah, yeah.

VIKTOR THEISS: Commonwealth calls Rick Wayland to the stand.

Describe the scene to the jury, please.

RICK WAYLAND: The defendant was screaming at the other two gentlemen.

VIKTOR THEISS: So you heard the defendant screaming?

RICK WAYLAND: Yes.

VIKTOR THEISS: Do you recall what he was screaming?

RICK WAYLAND: The statement had referred to the other gentleman being gay, and the quote "f-king faggot" was used.

VIKTOR THEISS: How would you describe his demeanor?

RICK WAYLAND: Aggressive. I wasn't sure what was going to happen.

VIKTOR THEISS: What did you think was going to happen, based on your observations?

RICK WAYLAND: Possibly a fight.

VIKTOR THEISS: And who did you think was going to engage in the fight?

RICK WAYLAND: The defendant.

VIKTOR THEISS: What was the demeanor of the other two individuals?

RICK WAYLAND: They just stood there. That's why I couldn't believe why the defendant was so upset.

Judge PAUL LEARY: I'm going to recess. It's 4:30. It's a good time to stop. So we'll see you back here tomorrow morning at 9:00 o'clock.

[Back at East Boston District Court, trial day for Pedro Tejada.]

LISA MEDEIROS: Where's Pedro? OK. Tu entiendes Englais o solamente Espanol?

PEDRO TEJADA: Englais.

LISA MEDEIROS: I can speak in English with you?

PEDRO TEJADA: Yes.

LISA MEDEIROS: Pedro. Pedro has not been in my office. I have made so many- I'm frustrated with him, because if we want to go forward with this case with the mother saying it's an accident, we need to sit down and discuss it. I schedule appointment after appointment. I sent you letters, said, "Please call me." Now, all of a sudden, what do you expect? You see the position that you're in? I'm sorry for you.

PEDRO TEJADA: Stupid.

LISA MEDEIROS: Exactly. So you see, now, all of a sudden, we're here for jury trial, and what's an attorney to do?

It always seems that the clients that really need to come to my office and talk about the case before coming to trial, don't. And then they show up at the trial, not even looking worried, like, "Hi!"

LISA MEDEIROS: Mother says the incident with her was an accident. Lots of accidents happen.

ASST. DISTRICT ATTORNEY: Yes. [laughs]

LISA MEDEIROS: Now, if we go to trial and if we win, not guilty, that's great. You go home, everything's perfect. If we lose, you get a guilty, you could go to jail. You do take a gamble of having Immigration try to deport you. I think you might want to take probation. You'll do it for 11 months. A year usually triggers Immigration. But you need to tell me now what you want me to do. Should we say we're going to trial? Or do you want me to talk to him about a deal?

PEDRO TEJADA: About what?

LISA MEDEIROS: Yeah. We better get the interpreter.

CLERK: OK. Commonwealth versus Pedro Tejada.

LISA MEDEIROS: Good afternoon, Your Honor.

Normally one part of our questions is, you know, "Are you under the influence of any drugs or alcohol that might be influencing your decision today?"

JUDGE: Have you had any drugs of any sort?

PEDRO TEJADA: Yes. Marijuana.

LISA MEDEIROS: When she asked him that question, he's volunteering that he was smoking marijuana last night. [laughs]

JUDGE: The answer to that was "yes," I take it. Sir, you-

LISA MEDEIROS: I don't really remember a time when I was just speechless. I've always got something to say. [laughs]

You told the truth. You did everything OK. Marijuana use is illegal. It's a crime. The judge wants you evaluated by the Probation Department, to see if you need some kind of treatment for drug abuse.

[Pedro was given 11 months probation and assigned to a drug abuse program.]

LISA MEDEIROS: Bye.

PEDRO TEJADA: Thank you.

LISA MEDEIROS: You're welcome.

GREG GONZALES: Let's talk about the day of June 18, 1999. Do you remember that day?

DAMION HOWELL: Yes. Gisela and I had put the kids in the car. There was this, you know, dispute over who was going to cook that night. Neither of us wanted to do it, so we decided to just get take-out.

GREG GONZALES: What happened next?

DAMION HOWELL: Gentleman walked past me and bumped into my son and knocked my son down. My son fell back. And you know, I'm not going to lie to the court. He didn't cry. He didn't have any bumps or bruises, but he was knocked down. As I was picking my son up, and I look up, and he's still walking. It didn't seem like it was accidental. And maybe he didn't know. So I said, "Excuse you."

GREG GONZALES: What happened after you said, "Excuse you"?

DAMION HOWELL: Well, he looked over his right shoulder and said, "F-k you." And you know-

GREG GONZALES: And how did he say that? What was his demeanor?

DAMION HOWELL: "F-k you." He didn't say it like, you know, conversation. He said it loud enough for me to hear him. I said to him, I said, "You know, you're going to say `F-k me,' don't f-k me walking. F-k me standing still. You knocked my son down." You know, "If you're going to knock my son down, then knock me down." And he kept going. And I said, "You know what? You're a coward. You're a coward." And my wife said, "Oh, just- let's just go. Leave it alone. He- just let him go." And we went into Boston Chicken.

GREG GONZALES: What happened next?

DAMION HOWELL: We were driving off, and my son says to me-

GREG GONZALES: And your son is?

DAMION HOWELL: Takai, a 5-year-old, the one sitting in the middle. He goes, "Daddy, that's the guy that knocked me over, right there." And he pointed to him.

GREG GONZALES: When you got out of the car, what happened?

DAMION HOWELL: There were two gentlemen standing together. The gentleman who ran, he just ran. The gentleman who was standing in front of me, who I now know as Mr. Stevens, I had asked him, "Are you the gentleman who knocked down my son?" And he said, "No." And I even apologized to him. I said, "Well hey, listen. I'm not- it's nothing to do with you.'

GREG GONZALES: Now, what was your demeanor like when you got out of the car?

DAMION HOWELL: Oh, I was upset. I definitely was upset. I wouldn't even insult anybody in this courtroom and say that I wasn't. I was upset because this guy knocked my son down and just walked off like he had a license to do it.

GREG GONZALES: But were you aware of hitting anyone at all?

DAMION HOWELL: No.

GREG GONZALES: Did you plan to hit or touch anyone?

DAMION HOWELL: It would have been more than a light touch, as he said, grazing his chest. If I was trying to hit him, he would have said yesterday that I hit him. I didn't.

GREG GONZALES: And when you were sitting out there, did you make any anti-gay remarks at all?

DAMION HOWELL: No.

GREG GONZALES: Did you ever say, "I will come back and kill you" if he filed a police report?

DAMION HOWELL: No. No, I didn't.

VIKTOR THEISS: You testified that when you left Boston Market and were driving home, you got out of the car as it slowed.

DAMION HOWELL: I was getting out of the car because I wanted to know which gentleman it was who knocked my son down.

VIKTOR THEISS: Your son told you, "Daddy, there's the guy that knocked me down."

DAMION HOWELL: He didn't say, "Daddy, that's the guy." He said, "How come that guy knocked me down and didn't say he was sorry?" That was his point. "If an adult doesn't have to say he's sorry, then Daddy, why do I?" And he's driving the point in. He's got the hammer and nail, and he's beating me in the head with it. Yes.

VIKTOR THEISS: Quite a 5-year-old.

DAMION HOWELL: Yes. He's very smart.

VIKTOR THEISS: OK.

DAMION HOWELL: He's very smart.

[Damion faces seven charges for making threats, assault, and civil rights violations.]

VIKTOR THEISS: Your son wasn't injured and he wasn't upset at the Boston Market?

DAMION HOWELL: Oh, he was upset.

VIKTOR THEISS: Oh, he was crying?

DAMION HOWELL: He was upset that he got knocked- he doesn't have to cry to be upset, sir. Kids get upset over everything.

VIKTOR THEISS: OK.

I'll be honest. If I get a split verdict, I'm happy. If I hook him on the Civil Rights, I'll be stunned. I'll be ecstatic but stunned. I just- too much prejudice to overcome on the part of the jury, the judge, and I just don't have the tools to address it. I just don't. The one I'll be stunned if we get "not guilty" on, really stunned, is the threats. I think that one's nailed. And if we don't get that- oh well.

BRIAN CLAGUE: Right. There's nothing you could have done.

VIKTOR THEISS: Yeah, exactly. Then that's it. So- and that point, I'll just be disgusted and frustrated, and I'll have to do the rest of my work today in a bad mood. [laughs]

[Medeiros has settled 9 of McDonald's 10 cases. The last one is a case of welfare fraud.]

LISA MEDEIROS: Hi, Lisa. Scooch over and let me talk to you.

All right. They have a man from Welfare here, and they're saying that you collected in excess of $7,000 during those two time periods.

LISA McDONALD: Basically, if I plead on it, I have to pay $7,000 back.

LISA MEDEIROS: Right. Right. Or you can go to trial and see what happens.

LISA McDONALD: I have no idea.

LISA MEDEIROS: Well, you need to make a decision because-

LISA McDONALD: Well, you're my lawyer. What do you think I should do? I don't know.

LISA MEDEIROS: I think that I- my job is to tell you what your choices are, to explain to you what the evidence is, to explain to you what you're charged with.

LISA McDONALD: I understand what I'm charged with.

LISA MEDEIROS: And do you understand what your choices are?

LISA McDONALD: Yes, I do.

LISA MEDEIROS: OK. So it's not my job to make your choice. It's your job to make your decision. I'm not here to take your choices away from you. You have-

LISA McDONALD: You can give me an idea.

LISA MEDEIROS: Well, I think I just did.

LISA McDONALD: Yeah. You're in between. Well, I can do this. You didn't say what you thought as your professional attitude, you didn't. No, you didn't. You say this is what I get. I can go and plead guilty and pay $7,000 back, where (INAUDIBLE) has no written documents, that I can go up there and take an iffy chance.

LISA MEDEIROS: Which would you like to do? That's exactly it.

LISA McDONALD: So I'll take the trial, then.

LISA MEDEIROS: OK.

BAILIFF: Court's in session. Please be seated.

[The jury was not told that Damion Howell is on parole after a conviction for other offenses.

If found guilty, he will automatically go back to prison for at least two years.]

CLERK: Madame Foreperson, has your jury agreed upon a verdict?

FOREWOMAN: Yes.

CLERK: As to the charge, Madame Foreperson, of assault and battery as to Daniel Stevens, is he guilty or not guilty?

FOREWOMAN: Not guilty.

CLERK: Charging Mr. Howell with Civil Rights violations, is he guilty or not guilty?

FOREWOMAN: Not guilty.

Not guilty.

Not guilty.

Not guilty.

CLERK: So say you, Madame Foreperson?

FOREWOMAN: We do.

CLERK: And so say you, all members of the Jury?

JURORS: We do.

CLERK: Thank you. You may be seated.

VIKTOR THEISS: Well, the jury's the jury.

BRIAN CLAGUE: I think they didn't give shit about a couple of fags. "So he called you a fag. Big deal." If it were something else, if it were me, as a white man walking down the street, and I called somebody a gook or a kike or a nigger or a spic, it would be taken more seriously.

GREG GONZALES: He got arrested over this, spent time in jail, lost his job. You know, their lights are going to be turned off on Friday because he hasn't been able to work because of, you know, the situation with the detention.

BRIAN CLAGUE: We appreciate your help.

VIKTOR THEISS: I hate losing. I hate losing.

[Lisa has been assigned the case of 18-year-old Michael O'Neill.]

LISA MEDEIROS: So the police officers say that they walk up and they see this kid rolling a joint, OK? Now, first, they have every reason to go up to you guys because you're trespassing. Now, they see you rolling a joint. At that point, they have probable cause to arrest you. Now, they say that you then, at that point, went around a corner. And when they go around the corner, they see some pot right near your foot. This is what they say. So-

MICHAEL O'NEILL: There was no weed in the thing, he had an empty bottle-

LISA MEDEIROS: Stop. Stop. What's going to happen is, the police officers are going to get on the stand and testify this is what happened. Now, you can get up there and say, "You know what, Judge? They're lying." And who do you think the judge is going to believe, the kid who's charged with possession or the police officers? So listen to me, OK? You've already had a situation with pot when you were a kid.

MICHAEL O'NEILL: Oh, yeah.

LISA MEDEIROS: And so they're not willing to dismiss it on court costs - that's what I asked him - because of that, because you've already been down this rocky road. You've already been to the court system on the same charge. Here you are again. If you were to go to trial and you got a "guilty," that means one year less of license.

MICHAEL O'NEILL: Oh. I don't have my license yet, either, but I'm getting it.

LISA MEDEIROS: That's a collateral punishment. It means an additional punishment with a "guilty" for a possession Class D. How about this? How about a dismissal, and you agree to do community service? Because the reason- what we're trying to do is avoid you from losing your license.

MICHAEL O'NEILL: I guess I could live with it.

LISA MEDEIROS: I don't know if I can talk him into it. I don't think I can. But let me ask him. What if you were to agree to do 40 hours community service and a dismissal? You don't lose your license. You don't risk losing your license.

MICHAEL O'NEILL: I would never do- what happens if I don't do the hours?

LISA MEDEIROS: You got to do it.

MICHAEL O'NEILL: I would never do 40 hours community service.

LISA MEDEIROS: Then you want to risk losing your license? That's worth it to you?

MICHAEL O'NEILL: I know it's- there's no way I can pay.

LISA MEDEIROS: No, no he won't go for that.

LISA MEDEIROS: Listen. You got to listen. Hello? You got- you got some -

MICHAEL O'NEILL: I see my father. No, I see my dad in the background.

LISA MEDEIROS: Well, maybe he needs to- who's your father?

MICHAEL O'NEILL: Right here.

LISA MEDEIROS: Good. I'm talking to your son. My name's Lisa Medeiros. I'm his attorney.

LISA MEDEIROS: Here's the situation. He's got- he knows all this stuff that's going on, right?

MICHAEL O'NEILL: Not really.

LISA MEDEIROS: You don't know why he's here today? Can I tell him why you're here today?

MICHAEL O'NEILL: Yeah. Sure.

LISA MEDEIROS: I represent your son. He's charged with- it's a small case, but he's got some choices to make today.

Michael, the thing about you is, you don't want to mess up. You got your permit. You're getting on the right track. And this is a stupid thing. Get it dismissed. If it takes washing the van, pretend- you know.

FATHER: Think about it. I mean, she's right.

MICHAEL O'NEILL: I know.

FATHER: When you weigh the- weigh the options- you know what just happened to me? You know, there's a- well, I had to do the same thing. So you got to-

MICHAEL O'NEILL: All right. Yeah.

LISA MEDEIROS: Listen, if we can get a dismissal, we want to jump through the hoops to get it.

[to prosecutor] Bottom line. I'm going to give you my pitch. Michael O'Neill, one of the kids that was caught with the pot-

ASST. DISTRICT ATTORNEY: Yeah.

LISA MEDEIROS: Now, Michael O'Neill was way at the end of the police report. They didn't find anything on him. They say it was near him. It was a whole group of kids, OK, one small bag of pot. If he gets a "guilty," he's not going to get his license. He's just getting straight, and his father's here, willing to represent that to the court.

I'm hoping that you would consider a dismissal with community service. Make the kid- the kid- let me tell you, I just stood out there for a half hour talking him into this. Community service is hurting him. He doesn't want to do the community service. He was considering a C.W.O.F. [continuance without a finding] more than the dismissal with community service. But I'm thinking a kid, 18 years old, his dad's getting him a job that requires a license, he just got his permit. How about that?

ASST. DISTRICT ATTORNEY: Well, I mean, are you telling me that he'll do community service?

LISA MEDEIROS: He has to, or it's a violation and you bring the case back. It's not dismissed until the community service is completed. Dismissal on X amount of community service.

ASST. DISTRICT ATTORNEY: How many hours?

LISA MEDEIROS: How about 15?

ASST. DISTRICT ATTORNEY: How about 30?

LISA MEDEIROS: How about 25?

ASST. DISTRICT ATTORNEY: How about 30?

LISA MEDEIROS: All right, 30 hours.

ASST. DISTRICT ATTORNEY: All right. Deal.

LISA MEDEIROS: Excellent. Thanks.

LISA MEDEIROS: We're going to do with Lisa McDonald?

ASST. DISTRICT ATTORNEY: What does that do?

LISA MEDEIROS: Her record isn't too bad. It's just that she had a bunch of possessions and-

ASST. DISTRICT ATTORNEY: Look, believe me, of all the people that I'm willing to cut a break to, she's-

LISA MEDEIROS: If you won't compromise on the money amount, we can do a plea.

ASST. DISTRICT ATTORNEY: How much is she willing to do?

LISA MEDEIROS: Well, if I can just give her something. If you will come down- like, maybe make it 35.

ASST. DISTRICT ATTORNEY: Hundred? And there's-

LISA MEDEIROS: It's going to take her forever. She's just started working. She's got a son that's-

ASST. DISTRICT ATTORNEY: A one-year C.W.O.F. and $3,500?

LISA MEDEIROS: Yeah, but she's probably have to get it extended, but we'll do the-

ASST. DISTRICT ATTORNEY: Well, that's fine. That's fine.

LISA MEDEIROS: Yeah.

ASST. DISTRICT ATTORNEY: All right, done. Yeah.

LISA MEDEIROS: Let me talk to her.

ASST. DISTRICT ATTORNEY: All right.

LISA MEDEIROS: We got to jump on this. Got a C.W.O.F., one year, $3,500. Where is she? It's all coming together.

Oh, there you are. OK. He's willing to go $3,500 C.W.O.F., one year. He's cutting it more than in half.

LISA McDONALD: Will I owe it all-

LISA MEDEIROS: It's $7,768 and some-odd change. So it's less than half.

LISA McDONALD: OK. All right, I'll take it. OK.

LISA MEDEIROS: Yeah, $3,500. That's good.

[But there's a catch. McDonald will be on probation until the money is paid back.]

LISA MEDEIROS: This will start January 2000 and end January 2001.

LISA McDONALD: Right. But see, that's adding on to what I already have.

LISA MEDEIROS: It's the same time. When does your probation- you said one ends in April. What's good time. When's the other one end?

LISA McDONALD: I don't know.

LISA MEDEIROS: When were you put on probation?

LISA McDONALD: I was put on the last time with you. That was back in December, I think.

LISA MEDEIROS: OK. December. And how- December '99?

LISA McDONALD: Yeah.

LISA MEDEIROS: And how long was the probation?

LISA McDONALD: I just said, it was eight months for one case, and I think it's a year for another.

LISA MEDEIROS: So the other one will be till December 2000. So this will add one month.

LISA McDONALD: I'm on probation till I pay it back. That's bad.

LISA MEDEIROS: Lisa, you can't-

LISA McDONALD: I'm not going on probation.

LISA MEDEIROS: All right. Then the deal's off. You understand that?

LISA McDONALD: I'm not going on probation. I'm not.

LISA MEDEIROS: OK. You have to- but you understand, you can't do this deal, this deal is not possible without a probationary hearing.

LISA McDONALD: Why do I have to have another month? Why can't I just do it with the time that I already have?

LISA MEDEIROS: You can pay $3,500 in 11 months?

LISA McDONALD: No, I'm not saying I can.

LISA MEDEIROS: You have to pay all the money.

LISA McDONALD: What if it takes me 10 years? I'm still on probation till my matter closes. So either way, it's not one more month.

LISA MEDEIROS: You act like I'm trying- like it's good for me.

LISA McDONALD: You're going against me, is what you're doing! You're not giving-

LISA MEDEIROS: So are you asking me that you would like- would you have-

LISA McDONALD: But you came out here- you did not say to me- you did not come out here and say- you see? You roll your eyes! You didn't come out and say to me that I'm going to have probation time. You just said that that-

LISA MEDEIROS: You know what? Then I was wrong. Let me clear it up, OK? Let me just-

LISA McDONALD: It's too late. I'm not doing probation.

LISA MEDEIROS: All right.

LISA McDONALD: Bitch!

[Twenty minutes later, McDonald changes her mind.]

CLERK: Lisa McDonald?

LISA MEDEIROS: Good afternoon, Your Honor. We have an agreed-upon tender for your consideration.

Judge DOMINIC RUSSO: All right.

ASST. DISTRICT ATTORNEY: This individual is just now working and is anxious to try to repay some of the money. And given that, the Commonwealth feels that this is an appropriate disposition.

Judge DOMINIC RUSSO: All right. I'm going to accept it, Lisa. I'm going to accept it. My hope for you is that when this is all through, that you look back upon all of this and you'll say to yourself that you've conquered a mountain. Now the question is, you don't slide back.

LISA McDONALD: I know.

Judge DOMINIC RUSSO: You can't slide back. So let's keep up what appears to be the good work, and let's make sure that when we see you again, it's for a dismissal of these charges, OK?

LISA McDONALD: Thank you.

LISA MEDEIROS: Thank you, Your Honor.

LISA McDONALD: Thank you.

LISA MEDEIROS: You're welcome, Lisa. Don't get a lot of "thank you's." Actually, that was a good, successful day because I got some sweet deals. How about that dismissal on that possession Class D? That was good. And also I think this Welfare case. I mean, yeah, they're not ready. but I think it's the right thing. Just saved her $4,000.

INTERVIEWER: She doesn't seem too happy about it.

LISA MEDEIROS: No, I don't think- I'm not sure she'd be happy either way, so what are you going to do?

VIKTOR THEISS: How do I get out of this Microsoft Mail thingy?

KATE FANGER: Hit Exit. Hit Escape.

VIKTOR THEISS: Hit Escape.

KATE FANGER: Type "Exit.'

VIKTOR THEISS: Thank you.

KATE FANGER: He was here for an assault and battery case with a victim, and he starts pushing her around in the hallway in front of everybody, in front of the probation officer.

VIKTOR THEISS: He pushed the victim around, so he's charged again with more AB, so now he's charged with? Oh, good.

KATE FANGER: I mean, it's not going to be until tomorrow.

VIKTOR THEISS: That's the ultimate. You know, if you can't control yourself in a courthouse where you can get screwed, you're a danger to yourself and others.

KATE FANGER: God knows what he'll do at home.

VIKTOR THEISS: Right, I know. Hey, Holly, come here and see me.

 

A production of Lion Television and Ben Loeterman Productions, Inc. for WGBH/FRONTLINE in association with the BBC.

(c) 2000 Lion Television Limited and WGBH Educational Foundation.

All Rights Reserved.

FRONTLINE is a production of WGBH Boston, which is solely responsible for its content.

 

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