He Has to Pee in a Cup?

“He has to pee in a cup?” And, later: “Really? He has to go in a cup?” Miles, the six year old, thought that was a weird part of the defendant’s sentencing this morning.

She’s spent countless sleepless nights thinking about what she would like to say and what she would like to see for the defendant. Over the last few weeks, she’s written, scrapped, and rewritten her statement enough times that we’re out of paper. She has read it aloud to herself more times than she can count (granted, she can’t count very high). I rescheduled my 8th annual trip to Ohio (to see my Buckeyes take on #10 Nebraska) to be there when she delivered it. We arranged for someone to watch Liam, and the rest of us dressed in our Sunday best and drove to the courtroom, all the while the three older boys wondered what the rest of their classmates were doing at school, whether they were at lunch yet (at 8:15 in the morning, before school even started), and we made our way to and through the courthouse.

I’ve been in court a handful of times, but never as a lawyer, and certainly never as a victim. We sat through a few hearings, only picking up bits and pieces of the happenings as the court was full (a docket of 80 cases this morning), and if you’ve ever been in court you know that it’s not at all the typically serene and silent place it’s portrayed to be on TV.

Finally, it was time for the State of Utah v. Jeffrey Summers. Not until that moment did Ali know what the defendant looked like, what his family looked like, who he was as a person, or how he truly felt about the situation. His attorney asked for him to be punished, but in such a way he could keep his job with the postal service. His union representative was there to ask for the same. Then the court called for Ali.

Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. Michelle Obama. Laura Bush. Some of the most graceful women I’ve ever seen. I think Alison Crockett should be added to that list. She stood before the court, in all its commotion, and she held court. I’ve never been in a room with so many people from so many different backgrounds and circumstances and been so struck by the silence. The defendant, other lawyers (a characteristically unemotional lot), and people totally uninvolved with the case wept.

The defendant and his attorney were called back to the stand, and the attorney stood for a moment without saying anything. His first words: “I’d like to thank Ms. Crockett. That was a type of grace we rarely see.” Attorneys stopped her in the hall afterward and said the same thing and that they were choked up by what she said.

You see, she didn’t ask for the maximum penalty possible. She asked for the minimum, with conditions. She offered forgiveness. You can read her statement here.

The prosecutor had different things in mind. The judge did as well. He reduced the sentence thanks to Ali’s words, but reiterated that the defendant is extraordinarily lucky to have the outcome that he did. At the end of the day, a sentence of up to 5 years in jail, suspended with credit for the day already served, and 74 days more (that will certainly cause the 57 year old to lose his job), in addition to restitution, fines, additional rehabilitation, and a laundry list of other items, including peeing in a cup.

We did not expect the defendant then to be handcuffed and sent to jail. He blew his wife a kiss (without hands, because, again, handcuffs), and we left to talk with the prosecutor. It’s not over, but it was a huge step. I’m amazed that Ali was able to do something so gracefully that I don’t think I could do under even the best of circumstances.