Mindy and the proud butcher.

This week a fairly rough-looking guy got through the secure door to the hallway adjacent to my office by following another judicial assistant through the door as she waved her card by the electronic reader. He was powerfully built, shaved but with plenty of stubble, and he wore a black leather jacket that covered, incongruously, a shirt and tie. He asked Kris, my assistant, whether he could talk to me, adding that I had sentenced him to 10 years in prison a long time ago.

Kris came back and explained the situation. She was visibly nervous. She asked what she should do–that meant, “shall I push the magic button that calls the USMS in full tactical gear.” I said no.

I went out to the reception room, and the fellow gave me his name. He was smiling, and perfectly pleasant. I invited him into my inner office and we sat down. To my utter amazement, he said he had come to thank me for sending him to prison for 10 years. He told me that he had made the best of prison, and now owned an interest in a successful meat market. He was the proudest butcher I have had the privilege of meeting.

This fellow especially wanted me to know how much he thought of Mindy. Mindy is a long serving pretrial services officer and had spent lots of time trying to keep the guy on the straight and narrow pending resolution of his case. Pretrial_seal_126h133vThe man raved about Mindy, attributing his success and change of attitude to her. He remarked about her kindness when his father died. He wanted me to know how much he appreciated what Mindy had done for him. With that accomplished, and taking a moment to speak with Kris about their joint interest in a strange-sounding Swedish meat dish, the fellow grabbed my hand, shook it firmly and left.

A few days later, I tracked Mindy down in her office. I told her of my encounter, and how the previous offender so appreciated what she had done for him. Mindy reminded me that he had been the enforcer for a drug conspiracy. I told Mindy that she must be very proud of what she had done, and I asked if could take her photograph for this blog. She politely declined, saying, “It’s not about me.”

Mindy was right. It is not about her. But it is also true that it would not have been possible without her.

Some things are more important than others. This true story about Mindy and the proud butcher is one of those things.


14 responses

  1. Nice story! We hear so much about the justice system’s failures–it’s nice to hear about the successes.

    I can relate. I had a client who was a probation officer. When she’d walk down the street, sometimes people would call out to her, “Mrs. Brown!” and turn to their friends or family and say, “She was my probation officer.” She started a program for mothers who were charged with crime, and in the course of it a number of her probationers were re-united with their children. Another one of those small heroes, like Mindy, whose names seldom make it into the newspapers.

  2. Judge —

    I agree, Mindy had it partially right- it isn’t about her. At the same time, it is a stirring testimony to the efforts of Mindy and other professionals in the criminal justice system like her who do the unseen yet impactful work and only occasionally have the opportunity to see their labor bear fruit. She is more than fortunate that you took the time to tell her about this success story.

    Thoughts and prayers for a successful procedure on Friday.


  3. Jim,

    Sometime when you are over here, I will show the magic button in Courtroom 1. I press that accidentally at least twice a year. The Marshals, knowing of my lack coordination, amble in, smile in the sorta irritated way that befits a US Marshal, and then amble out. Everyone but me and the Marshals look scared. It’s great fun.

    All the best.


  4. Jim,

    You are welcome. I would bet that you have dealt with Mindy, and know what I know about her skill and compassion. All the best.


  5. Judge,

    Every morning, the first order of business is to go to this blog and read the new post.* This post was a great way to start my day today. Thank you for sharing.


    P.S. I have to get a life.

  6. What most everyone else said.

    However, I trust you had a small chat with “another judicial assistant” about the dangers of allowing such tailgating through secure doors. This could have turned out differently.

    Eric Hines

  7. Judge:
    Proof of the old Sicilian proverb: “Who gets married will be happy for a day, who butchers a pig will be happy for a year.”

  8. Anon.,

    I am flattered. Thank you. By the way, “getting a life” is overrated. I tried that once.

    All the best.


  9. *However, I trust you had a small chat with “another judicial assistant” about the dangers of allowing such tailgating through secure doors. This could have turned out differently.*

    Does the DEA work in the building? Sometimes it’s hard to tell the riff-raff apart.

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