Out of the Microcosm and Back Into the Wide World

July 20, 2011

I don’t want to leave you all hanging, so — yesterday the judge sentenced my client to 11 years in prison.  She will serve just short of another 8 years (she’s been in custody for 530 days for which she has received credit).  She did a fabulous interview with Dateline (I don’t use the word “fabulous” regularly).  The sentencing hearing was, however, bedlam.  There were cameras everywhere, wires strung across the floor and the courtroom was full of people with opinions.  Only one of those people really knows what happened back in January, 2002.  I think it is fair to say that the anger was palpable.  The sentence was imposed (in my opinion) more because the death was concealed for eight years than because there was a death.

Ellen is at peace with the sentence.  She had the opportunity to fully recount that night and what led up to it.  She knew there was a great possibility that the Court would impose the maximum time permitted by the plea agreement.

The aftermath:  The crazies — people that do not understand for our system to work there must be an advocate for each side of the question — are posting angry (sometimes threatening) comments on the TV news station blogs and elsewhere.  I take precautions for my safety, but otherwise I don’t let them bother me.  I know my job and I know it’s not always popular.  I believe what I do is so important to democracy.  I warned my client’s family to be extra vigilant.

So, I’m going to the office in a little while to dig out.  I have other clients that have been sorely neglected.


  1. Builder Mama says:

    I actually Googled one of the local TV stations yesterday to see what the outcome was. I think 11 years is fair considering the abusive situation she was living in. Unfortunately because of the Casey Anthony case, I think every case involving murder or manslaughter or whatever will be under a microscope by the public…people are angry and they want someone to pay. I’m not saying I agree wtih Ellen’s actions, but I do understand from having been in an abusive relationship years ago that sometimes you get pushed to the brink and it only takes a second to do something that could change your life forever.

    I’ll be looking for her story on Dateline. In the meantime, be safe my friend. Good job.

  2. Garrett says:

    Thank you for what you do. You are right it is not an easy job, and sometimes thankless. But I wanted to let you know I respect you for what you do and hope that you are safe as well.

  3. Jean from NM says:

    Just glad it’s over for you and for your client. Now we’ll have new scandals take its place and the media can chew those people up. As Builder Mama said, though, be safe.

  4. Taryn says:

    How scary that you now have to worry about your own safety.
    I hope all the over-heated emotions cool down quickly and you can move on to other cases. Be safe!

  5. C-Myste says:

    I believe that Liz is right: that the Casey Anthony case has made people angry and a little crazier than usual. Though in that case I see no other decision that the jury could have come to with the facts as presented.

    You do a valuable – or invaluable – service to our society and to our world.

  6. Kathy M. says:

    Sigh…these are the situations that stretch the definition of right and wrong. Just yesterday in our local paper there was a story making it clear that we can’t reward vigilante behavior by allowing it to go unpunished. Yet there are times when our “system” simply doesn’t help those that need it, or they perceive that to be so. In those cases, there is no choice but to act on your own. I didn’t see the Dateline piece, but this sounds like one of those situations. My heart goes out to your client.

  7. Holly says:

    Stay safe! And like Garrett said, thank you. You may not have a popular profession but it is much needed. Kudos to you.

  8. Maryk says:

    I just finished jury duty yesterday. It is a heavy responsibility, sending someone to prison for a long time, which I had to do. But as flawed as our system is, we still have one of the best. Hang in there and be safe. You did the best you could for your client, in a difficult situation.

  9. Be safe! I’m glad you have your four-legged early-warning systems!