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Another BigCloset TopShelf story. The second installment of Charlie's dilemma. How he ended up at Jane's school.
Tales of the Season : Charlene's Story
Tales of the Season : Charlene's Story
Judge Ruth Walinkiewicz sat in her chambers going over her cases for the coming day. The second one she came to was 'Charles Allen Hawkins'. It really wasn't a big folder and the reports inside indicated a very intelligent though overly aggressive young man. His schooling looked good, his grades had fallen off when he started getting into legal trouble last year. That was one sign, also the fact that this was the first time he had done anything other than get into a fight! Not like his past history. Even the school discipline records showed only punishment for fighting. Never for anything else.
'I need this personal interview to see just what is going on with Mr. Hawkins!’ Judge Ruth thought to herself. 'I'm not convinced that the juvenile detention system is the best place for him'. She rechecked the folder and made a few notes to herself, then placed it on the side. She knew there was a pre-arraignment meeting in less than an hour.
Ruth picked up her telephone and dialed a number from memory.....It was answered on the second ring.
"Bonjour! Allo! Thompson residence!" Marie spoke cheerily into the telephone.
"Bonjour to you too, Marie! This is Ruth. Is Jane around there?" Ruth asked.
"Ah! Judge Ruth! I am so sorry, you missed her by just a few minutes, she is out shopping with the girls!" Marie replied.
"Marie, how is John doing?" Ruth inquired of her friend.
"Our little Joan is doing quite well. She has turned the corner and I think she is just about ready for a 'little sister'." Marie smiled as she told Judge Ruth about Joan's progress.
"That is so wonderful to hear! That is why I need to talk to Jane, I will know for sure by noon, but I think I may have a 'little sister' for Joan!" Ruth replied.
"Would you like her to call you when she gets back? You know that these shopping trips are all day affairs." Marie reminded Ruth.
"Yes, Please. Marie, have Jane call me at home tonight. I'll know for sure by then and we will see what we can arrange. I have to run I have a meeting with the boy and his parents in ten minutes. Bye Marie, give a hug to Darla for me!"
"You must give Kenneth a kiss on each cheek from his Tante Marie! Marie smiled.
"I'll be sure of it, Marie. Ruth replied.
Ruth smiled as she hung up the telephone. It always pleased her when she made the right choice by not sending a young man to juvenile hall.
Looking back at the folder, Ruth shook her head. 'I hope I do the right thing for this child too!'
Charlie, his parents and their lawyer, Joshua Stephanian, had gathered in a conference room to talk, before the meeting with Judge Ruth. Charlie was pretty nervous and really didn't hear everything his lawyer said. His mom and dad were listening and asking questions so he figured that was a good sign.
"Charles?" Joshua asked. "I need to ask you a question before we go into this meeting. Have you EVER done anything like this before?"
Charlie looked at him and answered truthfully. "No! I have never stolen ANYTHING before in my life! I still don't know why I did it this time!" He then hung his head and cried a little, trying to wipe the tears away before anyone saw them.
"That is probably a positive for you then." Joshua smiled. " Judge Ruth would not have called this meeting if she thought you were just a delinquent. She may have an alternative to juvenile detention for you. I'll know more after this meeting."
Josh looked over his file one more time. While he was making a final note, Judge Ruth's secretary, Lisa, knocked on the door. "Judge Ruth is ready for you now. If you will all follow me." Lisa said.
The group entered the judge's chambers. Charlie looked around; it didn't look like the judge's chambers on TV. It was a nicely decorated office with flower arrangements on the desk and pictures of nature scenes on the wall, along one wall was a large bookcase. Charlie figured that was the judge's law library.
When the judge stood to greet them, Charlie had his second surprise! Ruth looked just like a normal woman! She wasn't some overbearing ogre or a 'B***h on wheels' as he had heard about some female judges. She shook everyone's hand and bid everyone to sit, then she came out from behind her desk and sat in the chairs with them! Not exactly what he was used to in his two dealings with the legal system in California!
Judge Ruth started the meeting. "I called this meeting, because in my many years of dealing with the juvenile system in Indiana, I have made some observations about some of the people that are sent to my courtroom." Ruth paused a moment to collect her thoughts. "Over time I have found there are some young people that really do not belong in the juvenile detention system. Instead, they need some sort of alternative to set them on the road to living a productive life."
"What did you have in mind your honor?" Josh asked.
"I would like to ask Mr. and Mrs. Hawkins and you to go get a cup of coffee! That will give me a chance to talk to Charles and see if we can come up with another way to solve this problem." Ruth replied.
Anita and John Hawkins looked at each other in confusion. John shook his head and then looked at Josh.
"Come along, I know the way to the coffee shop!" Josh smiled. " Don't worry, we will get our coffee and wait right out here in the hall for Judge Ruth and Charles to finish."
Ruth and Charlie watched as the three adults left the office. When the door clicked and Ruth was sure they were out of earshot, she began her interview.
"Charlie, May I call you Charlie?" She asked.
"Yes, ma'am. I prefer it to Charles. That sounds like I'm in trouble." Charlie replied.
"Ruth chuckled. "Well young man, you are in trouble, but I will still call you Charlie. Okay?"
Charlie nodded and continued to look at his hands.
" My first question is, Why did you punch that boy in the nose back in third grade?" Ruth queried.
Charlie was stunned. What did third grade have to do with this? He collected his thoughts and decided to answer the question. "Why? Back in third grade? He had bullied me most of the school year! It was the last day of school and I was finally angry enough to hit him! He left me alone after that! Probably knew I'd hit him again if he didn't!"
"I see, were there any other times you were angry and hit someone?" Ruth asked, already knowing the answer to the question.
"Yea! Every time I got in trouble at school. The kids knew if they could make me mad, I'd start a fight! It's like they would bait me to see how far I would go before I broke! I got into a lot of fights!" Charlie replied.
"What about the two times you were in family court in California?" Ruth continued.
Charlie looked disgusted. "Those two a**holes deserved it! They called me a short little fairy! A little girly-boy that was just a wimp! It made me see red, and I lashed out at them yelling back that I WAS NOT a wimp. So I kicked their as*.. butts!"
"I see you did some anger management counseling. How was that?" Ruth asked.
"Useless! Absolutely useless! All this guy wanted to do was talk about 'turn the other f***ing cheek' and 'walk away from it'. I knew he had never been picked on in school and had NO idea what was going on with me, even after I explained it to him!" Came the bitter reply from Charlie. "I just gave him the answers he wanted so I could get the hell out of there."
"Charlie, have you always used such umm… colorful language when you talk to adults?" Ruth asked.
"You mean the .. Oh, sorry! Mom says I need to watch my language. It just comes out when I’m upset." Charlie replied.
Ruth sat there and nodded her head. She asked a few more questions that she already knew the answers to and took a couple minutes to formulate her thoughts.
She could see that Charlie had figured out that when he got really angry, fighting was the way to make people leave him alone. Basically, inside there seemed to be a boy that really didn't want to be this way. Ruth had to ask one more question. "Charlie, if I could offer you a way to control your anger, so you wouldn't have to fight anymore, would you accept it?"
"Judge Ruth, I am ready to get on my knees and f***in… oops, sorry, beg for anything you have that would prevent me leaving my family until I’m eighteen! I think that would just make things worse!" Charlie replied.
"I tend to agree with your assessment! I will recall your parents and have a talk with them. I can tell you that the place I would send you is a boarding school. You will be there from six months to one year in order to help you correct the way you handle your anger. Upon satisfactory completion of the program set up for you, I will completely expunge and seal your records. To state it simply, ALL of your juvenile records will disappear. You will return to life with a clean slate! What do you think of that choice?" Ruth asked.
Charlie sat there trying to take in everything the judge had said. The ONE thing he had heard was 'six months to a year', not three and a half to four years! However, a boarding school, he wondered what that would be like? After thinking for a minute, Charlie noticed that Judge Ruth was looking at him waiting for an answer.
"I think that is one option....umm...what is the other?" He asked.
"According to Indiana law, when you have two prior convictions for violent crimes, if you are convicted of a third crime you must go to a juvenile detention home until you turn eighteen." Judge Ruth replied. "That will only happen if we have to go through the arraignment and this case gets into the legal system."
"If the case gets into the legal system? I don't understand." Charlie looked confused.
"Let me explain this to you this way. If we all agree that there is a better way for you to get the help you need to become a better person and stay out of trouble. I have the power to keep you out of the judicial system until we see what happens. If this option is successful, we go into court and the case would be dismissed! Then I seal all of your other records and you start a new life, free of any juvenile record." Judge Ruth responded.
"So-o...if I go to this 'boarding school' for however long, then all my past problems go away? What about my school discipline?" Charlie asked.
"I'll order that expunged as well. The discipline records will be sealed along with everything else." Judge Ruth replied.
Charlie thought for a minute. That would be something! No records of trouble anywhere! 'God! I need to do this! I did say I would have to change. Maybe this is my chance'.
"Judge Ruth? I believe I’ll try the boarding school option." Charlie said.
"Good choice! I was hoping you would choose it. I believe that you will be very successful there. I also believe that they can help you become a much better young man!" Ruth replied with a genuinely warm smile.
"Well! Now that you and I have chatted, I need to discuss some things with your parents. We need to do some legal documents giving the school guardianship of you so they can see to your education and health care while you are there. A lot of boring stuff, so why don't we see what we can find for you to do while we are addressing these things, okay?" Ruth asked.
"You don't need me? Where do I wait? How long will it take?" Charlie asked.
"While I am talking to your mom and stepfather, I'll have Lisa take you down to the sheriff's office. They can remove your ankle bracelet. Since you are not going to be part of the legal system, there is no point in you wearing it any longer. The only thing is, I have to have your word of honor, that you will not run away." Ruth said.
"My word? I promise. You and I have agreed and I will live up to my end of the bargain. I won’t let you down Judge Ruth." Charlie replied with resolve in his voice.
"Then let's call your parents and lawyer in, shall we?" Judge Ruth asked.
Charlie and Ruth got up and walked to the door. They opened it to see Charlie's parents and Josh sitting across the hall waiting patiently for them to finish. All three stood when they saw Charlie and Ruth.
"If the three of you would wait in my office..." Judge Ruth motioned toward the open door. "I'll be back right after I get Charlie taken care of. Your lawyer will start to explain things while I am gone."
Ruth escorted Charlie to her secretary's office. There she instructed Lisa to take Charlie down to the Sheriff's office to have his ankle bracelet removed. With Charlie in good hands, she returned to her office and the Hawkins.
"Good news! Charlie has agreed to try to correct this problem without involving the legal system. I want to explain to both of you just what my proposal entails." Ruth was all smiles as she spoke to Charlie's parents.
Josh spoke first. "I have given them a preliminary rundown on the Thompson Academy and the benefits of resolving the problem this way. I'll let you do the rest."
"Thank you Josh." Ruth turned to face Anita and John Hawkins. "I'll be blunt with both of you. The Thompson Academy is run by a very strict lady named Jane Thompson. She is schooled in the old ways of creating acceptable behavior changes in her charges. There is no physical retribution and no permanent changes made to Charlie. Everything he has to undergo there will be for his benefit. Although right now the two of you may not think so."
Ruth went on to explain how Jane used 'Petticoat Punishment' in order to get her male charges attention. Then once they were fully into the program how her field trips would help Charlie develop an alternative way to handle his anger. By the time Ruth finished her spiel, both Anita and John were shaking their heads up and down agreeing with everything she was saying.
It was a simple matter of then doing all the legal paperwork to transfer guardianship to J. Thompson and to arrange for the transportation to the academy.
"Why by train? Wouldn't an airplane be much faster?" Mrs. Hawkins asked.
"As I told you Ms. Thompson likes to do certain things the old way. She claims it not only shows we trust Charlie, since he will be traveling by himself, but that it gives the student a lot of time to think over his life so far. After all he will be on the train for sixteen hours to New York and then two hours to his stop in Kingston." Ruth replied.
"Anita, John, don't worry. I have helped Judge Ruth send twenty-three boys to the Thompson Academy. All of them have made it there!" Josh interjected.
"Did they all come back better for this ordeal?" John Hawkins asked.
"I won’t lie to you. In my experience, twenty-two of the boys are leading very happy productive lives! I see them occasionally around town and they all still talk to me! I did have one return from there and when he was released, he went back to his old ways. He will be a guest of our state prison system for another twenty five years before he is eligible for parole." Josh explained.
"Along with those boys, Ms. Thompson has rehabilitated over one hundred boys and a few girls in her years. She was the Headmistress for Eastmore Girls School before deciding to help boys learn a better way." Judge Ruth added.
"When all is said and done our son will return to us, right?" Asked Mr. Hawkins.
"A much better, well rounded, considerate version of Charlie will return. In some boys the change is dramatic, in others you just notice that they don't get as angry anymore." Judge Ruth replied.
"He has agreed to this?" Asked Anita Hawkins.
"He has given his word, that he will go to The Thompson Academy instead of juvenile hall. He was not told all the specifics, since he will spend more time considering his plight if the future is unknown to him. You must also give me your word, that you will not tell him what is in store for him at the Academy." Judge Ruth replied.
A couple of more minutes of discussion among the four adults and then Josh Stephanian pulled out the documents needed to place Charlie in the J. Thompson Academy.
With that done, Judge Ruth buzzed Lisa and asked her to bring Charlie back into the room. When he entered, he looked worried.
"Mr. Charles Allen Hawkins!" Judge Ruth stood. "You are hereby ordered by this officer of the court to attend The J. Thompson Academy for whatever period of time is necessary to satisfactorily complete the prescribed course of study. Should you fail to complete this course, you will be sent back here and tried for the crimes you committed. Do you so agree?"
Charlie looked at his mom and stepdad. They were both nodding their heads yes. "I agree."
"I will call you tomorrow with the details of your trip and when you are to leave. Until then have a little fun with your family, it will be a while until you see them again." Judge Ruth told the three of them. "Josh, if you will escort the Hawkins family out, I will move on to our next case."
Ruth watched the family leave with a smile on her face, she was sure that Jane could help this boy in ways the corrections department couldn't. 'Only time will tell' She thought as she made a final note and put Charlie's file in her special drawer for Jane's students.
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