Dear Judge McShane,
On Friday Feb.6, 2009 I was in your courtroom when I pleaded 'no contest' to one charge of criminal mischief. This charge stemmed from a violent incident last June (Sat. 6/07/09) in which I was assaulted by two strangers while I was on my way to work. During this assault, I was thrown through a store-front window of a business. In the wake of this assault, in a split-second of misjudgment on my part, I broke a 2nd window out of distress, un-intentionally. 2 days later, I was fired (because I was prevented from making my peaceful way to work that Saturday night) & I've been un-employed ever since. I've explained my financial situation in court - that I'm living off of un-employment insurance & food assistance & nothing else; that I'm currently in debt, whereas, no debt existed [for myself] prior to last June. I thought this much was understood, as my [court-appointed] lawyer's fees were waived & I agreed to the terms of my probation, including community service.
But I received a letter last week stating that I owe $67 in court costs. Further more, the letter also states that if I don't pay this amount within 30 days, an additional $50(?!) will be added on! This additional $50 amounts to a POVERTY FEE & this much was even made clear to me [in no uncertain terms] by the court clerk I spoke to over the phone. If I'm too poor to pay $67 now, how can I possibly be expected to pay nearly twice that amount a month from now?! This is both illogical & cruel. I've had physical violence & aggression forced upon me twice in one night - 1st by random thugs who singled me out, for reasons that only they are aware of; 2nd by needlessly brutal officers who tasered me even though I NEVER resisted, fought, or gave them a hard time. I was the only person who was physically injured that night. I was arrested a 2nd time months later inside the courthouse lobby on the same charges! To this day, I still have not been given a good explanation as to why this was done. I've spent a collective 13-14 hours in jail, & to what good?
Yes, I did break a window - out of extreme distress - just as any human being might do something they may regret, when they're not in their right mind [at that moment]. But the cost of that window doesn't begin to compare to the thousands of dollars in lost wages (& lost medical benefits) I've suffered since last June.
If property damage were the most important issue here, why haven't the two thugs who very purposefully broke the 1st window [when they tossed me through it] been brought to justice? And if this were really about taking responsibility, why haven't those same two thugs, the ones who assaulted me, or the police who tasered me, been held to account for anything they've done?
My grievance is that I've already been punished several times over, in several different forms, & that these 'court costs' are just another needless & cruel punishment.
What I'm requesting, is that you VOID the $67. May you please take into account my rather dire financial situation when doing so? This entire event has already cost me dearly, & I can't afford to pay anymore.
- case number 080849955