Statements provide a peek into the craziness of crime as well as its sheer banality. Some statements become oddly familiar—hardly a drunk driving case goes by without the prosecutor saying, (often completely deadpan) “710.30(1)(a) The defendant stated in sum and substance “I had two beers.”
It’s almost never a single beer, and never three. Every once and again, someone—usually a Russian guy or a Pole will admit to half a bottle of vodka, one guy’s memorable statement was “excuse me, but I’m about to be sick.” but for some strange reason, as a general matter, two beers is everyone’s favorite DWI lie. Comically, the statement is usually followed by the DA’s accounting of the ‘blow’—that is the reading on the intoxilyzer machine. So “I had two beers.” is often followed by the droll recitation of the fact that a client had a blood-alcohol level of .18—nearly twice the legal limit and a good indication that the more honest statement might have been “I was on my second six-pack.”
The constant recital of similar statements, also serves to make crime, and clients seems fungible. When every fourth domestic violence case contains the common refrain in “We had a fight,” or “she (insert conduct here) and so I slapped her,” it becomes harder to see cases individually, to probe and weigh their nuances in the search for the kind of individualized justice the system ought to aim for.
Of course wacky clients and crazy cases often yield comic relief in otherwise dry criminal proceedings.
“Ah two statements here judge,” the boring prosecutor in his perfect blue blazer says calmly as he flips distractedly through one of the 80 files for the evening, “First statement at 10:16 p.m at the corner of 161st and 3rd the defendant stated in sum and substance to arresting officer Figueroa: ‘You’re a pussy, take off that badge and I’ll kick your ass. Second statement, 11:22 p.m at the 48th precinct, defendant stated in sum and substance to officer Figureroa, ‘ You’re a pussy, I would have kicked your ass if you hadn’t sprayed that shit in my face.’ No further notices.”
“710.30(1)(a) at the time and place of arrest to officer Loreth: ‘suck my dick.’ no further notices.”