By Douglas Ammar
Originally published in “Matters of Justice,” Spring 1998
Five years ago, Cedric called GJP. In jail for his umpteenth drug related case, he wanted legal help. His drug addiction had landed him in jail and prison more times than he could count. He was tired. There was a problem . . . and he didn’t have the answer.
We conditioned our representation on Cedric getting help. If he were willing to get clean, then we would be his lawyers. In jail, faced with little hope, not surprisingly he agreed. We filed a bond motion, argued for his release, and arranged a spot for him in a treatment center.
He lasted two weeks in the treatment center. Taking to the streets again, he relapsed into a world of drugs and street crime. A world he was trying to shake loose. A world with a stingy grip.
Like many fledging recovering addicts, Cedric sobered and relapsed several times. This cycle repeated a few more times until finally Cedric knocked on our door. He hugged me tight and told me he had been clean for a month. I smiled and told him to check back every month. When he was serious about staying clean, then we’d get involved.
After nine months of sobriety, I knew he was serious. He signed a GJP client contract, agreeing to come to the Men’s Support Group and work around the office a few hours each week.
It was over a year later that we resolved all of Cedric’s legal troubles. It took months to compile letters and records showing Cedric’s progress: Letters from his job, letters from the recovery center, drug screen test results. It took months to negotiate with the prosecutor’s and the probation officers. After that it took months to convince calendar clerks and sheriffs to put his cases on the calendar without having him arrested for his outstanding warrants.
By the time we went to court, Cedric had been clean for nearly two years. He had been working and living in a long-term residential treatment facility, saving enough money to pay restitution for his property offenses. Although he had a long record, the judges sentenced him to probation, allowing him to resume his new life. It was the changes Cedric made which created this opportunity. No one forced him to stay in treatment. Yet we used our relationship, our position as lawyers, to urge him down a path of recovery and redemption.