I felt terrible that I couldn't do more to help my client. I was distraught at the end of that trip. As an immigrant from Africa, I believed no one should die the way my client died, helplessand without dignity, in the greatest nation on earth. I was mad at myself and mad at the system that perpetuated such injustice against my client. I felt deeply that the criminal justice system punished my client for being poor. Especially when I recalled the times some of my clients had to either use their meager earnings from Social Security Disability to pay for the cost of alcohol evaluation mandated under his probation or the one that had to donate his blood at the plasma center to get money for treatment. I left the House of Charity that day, determined to get out ofthe misdemeanor criminal practice. I was sick of it all.
When I got back to the office after the Christmas holiday, I went straight to my boss’soffice, but before I could unload on her, she asked me to sit down as she had good news to tell me. She said as a result of my hard work fighting for my clients, she nominated me as one of the Employees of the Year and that I would be having lunch with the mayor. This news further infuriated me as that is not what I wanted to hear. But I had to contain myself as I have high regard for her – after all she had been the only one willing to give me a chance to practice law in America when all other doors were shut against me. I calmly sat down in her office and told her about my experience over the Christmas holiday. I informed her that I was at the point of quitting my job. My boss, as usual, sprang to her feet, gave me a hug, and pleaded with me not to take such drastic action. She assured me that she, along with others, were working hard to come up with something. This is why she fought so hard to establish Spokane Municipal Court. She encouraged me to attend the lunch with the mayor.
At that lunch, the mayor asked everyone at the table to talk about their accomplishments, everyone did except me. Instead, I unloaded my predicament. Everyone at the table just listened in silence as I retold my story of anguish in seeing my client die a horrible death that could have been prevented.
To be continued