The Little Boy in the Courtroom

I’ve practiced law for thirty-fours years. I mainly specialize in family and criminal law, so I see a lot of rough stuff-everyday. The other day I saw something that hit me at my very soul though.

The Boy

It was 9:00 a.m. I had a hearing in criminal court in a suburban county. I walked into the courtroom, through the people sitting in the public area, past the bar, and over to the Assistant District Attorney’s (ADA) table to make sure my client was on the docket. I looked into the public sitting area to make sure my client was there, nodded to him and looked over at the jury box.

I noticed the bailiffs had already seated the juveniles in custody who had hearings that morning in the box. Mainly older teens. One girl.

And one little boy.

The Courtroom

boy in the courtroom: jury boxHe looked ten years old to me. He didn’t look scared or angry, but normal. Just as any boy might look sitting in his class at school. But he wasn’t in school. He was sitting in this courtroom waiting through a morning of hearings for his time in front of the judge. In orange jail coveralls. And since he was in the box, he hadn’t been to school because he was in custody.

He watched the older boys and what the lawyers and court personnel were doing. He never looked into the audience. He never searched for a mom or dad. He looked like he didn’t expect anyone to be there.


While talking to an ADA in another courtroom that morning, I mentioned what I saw, and she knew who I was talking about. The boy was that well known in the DA’s office. I asked her about his education, and she said they get it there. I could see on her face she didn’t believe it anymore than I did.

He might have a desk somewhere and an adult supervising him, but he was not going to get the kind of education he needed. And I thought I could tell from her reactions that this young boy had done several really bad things. She understood my point of concern, but she seemed certain he belonged there.

But where’s his hope? That boy’s haunted me since.

1 thought on “The Little Boy in the Courtroom”

  1. His hope was in having someone love him from day one and teach him right from wrong. From the story you tell, it sounds like that may not have happened. Or maybe it did, and he made some really wrong choices in spite of it… Where’s his hope now? Good question. Maybe his hope is in a fair and compassionate judge who can help him begin to understand that choices have consequences, so we all need to choose wisely and well. Or maybe I am naive to think he has any hope at all. Maybe he is just another thrown away piece of refuse. You know I don’t believe that. He is a human being, deeply flawed, and failed by our imperfect system. You’re right to be haunted. Now I am, too.

Leave a Reply