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Oh, Barbara...

This heart-wrenching story brought back so many things. So many hurts and forgotten tragedies. I can't thank you enough.

As a U.S. Certified Court Interpreter for the State  of Florida, I had the opportunity to see these sort of trials on a regular basis. I interpreted for years for the legal system that dealt out "justice" to the indigent, illiterate, mentally-ill, disillusioned, and mostly invisible segment of society. Those whom we notice only as a headline or statistic. Often, their court appearances were brief and my level of involvement almost none at all- traffic violations, shop-lifting charges, you know, nothing too dramatic. One day, though, I was handed the docket for a murder trial that would last a few weeks at least.

It was a case of a young, educated Puerto-Rican man who had been living in Florida for five years and had no previous criminal record. He was charged with first-degree man-slaughter after he backed his 18-wheeler into a loading dock and killed a fellow worker. The "victim" was an 18 year-old who was hired by the company as an ex-parolee and was doing community service instead of a fourth jail sentence. He had no family, other than his grandparents, no friends, was rehabilitating from long-term drug use and had actually left a suicide letter in his locker. "Our" defendant had a future, a wife and young baby and everything to lose. Was it an accident? Of course it was, and it was to change his life forever. The conviction would get him jail time, the wonderful education that only inmates can get in reduced spaces of jail confinement and bring his world crashing around him and his family.

Needless to say, I became pretty emotional about the case. In discussing it with a veteran interpreter,I asked her how she coped with these cases and how she managed to keep her sanity after so many years. She gave me some words of wisdom.
"Don't worry", she said, "after a while you'll just treat him like a memory before going on to your next assignment. It won't hurt at all. You just learn to not get involved."

I knew right then that I had to get out of that job, because if I succeeded in getting past the involvement stage, then I would have no feelings left.

Thank you for caring, and for sharing this story. It really touched me. In the end, "caring" is why we live.

Ivonne Miller

Capitalism searches out the darkest corners of human potential, and mainlines them.

by geezer in Paris (risico at wanadoo(flypoop)fr) on Sat Jan 12th, 2008 at 04:12:54 AM EST

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