No Excuses. Accountability.

by Jamison Koehler on March 6, 2013

“I messed up again, and I have no excuses. I am ready to face the consequences of my actions.”

This is what the defendant says to the court at her probation revocation hearing.

Other defense attorneys and I hear this from the gallery where we are waiting for our own cases to be called. We look at each other and smile: We are not used to hearing this, at least not something quite so clear and unequivocal.

Whether or not this was the defendant’s intention (or her lawyer’s), it works. The judge goes from accusing the defendant to apologizing for her. It is not so bad, the judge says. He denies the probation revocation request.

It is not just that judges love it when defendants accept responsibility. It is also what Keith Evans has described as “Newton’s Rule”:  It is human nature. People are contrarian. If you push them one way, they will find an excuse to push the other way.

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