Sometimes I like to watch Emily interpret in court. I take a seat somewhere among the other people and just observe. Sure, you might think I’m prejudiced because she is my wife, but in my professional opinion, she does a super job! I really love watching a professional do her thing at the top of her game! However, this post is not really intended to be about Emily. This one is about a certain judge in Greer.
Perhaps maybe a year ago, I was sitting back watching Emily interpreting in Greer court and found myself intrigued by the judge. The judge was speaking with a young man who had a marijuana charge. The judge asked the young man if he had a job. The answer, “yes sir.” Then the judge asked him if he had finished school. The answer was no, but he was working on his GED.
At this moment the judge encouraged the young man to keep going and to get that GED. The judge surprised me by admitting to the young man in public that he also had a GED and found success to the point of becoming a judge!
He then told the young man that if he stayed away from drugs and completed his GED, the charges would be dropped. However, on the other hand, if the young man were to get in trouble again or not finish getting his GED, he could see some prison time and have a tarnished record making it difficult for future job options.
Later, the judge did it again! This time it was a women going through nursing school. If she stayed clean and finished college, the charges would be dropped with a great future ahead. If she reneged, she would be charged and be kicked out of nursing school.
When I walked out of court that day, I pondered the question of how often this judge gives people this kind of opportunity. Part of the condition of dropping the charges is to improve yourself by completing your education. I also wondered how many people benefited from such a generous opportunity. I also wondered how many people waste that opportunity to move forward and change their lives?
The next time Emily invited me to observe her interpret for that particular judge, I was eager to go. I just had to see if that was just one special day or if he is like this all the time. It turns out, that he is like this all the time.
If I were a waging man, I would bet anybody that this judge probably doesn’t even have any idea how many people he has helped over the years in this way. It can be really easy to get discouraged by focusing on the cases that end up returning in front of him. The wasted chances that were squandered.
I would say this. To the people that squandered their chance, at least they were given a fair opportunity to make a real change. To the ones who stay clean and finish school, this judge changed those people’s lives for the better. I wish I had a statistic or number of how many lives were affected over the years. I have no doubt that it is many!