How to Be a “Victim”

As you may recall, after the late, great garage invasion Sheriff Joe and the county prosecutor’s office declared me a “victim” of a couple of gang-banging thugs. The county has an involved victim assistance program, supposedly designed to reassure, protect, and aid victims of crimes.

Yeah.

Beginning way back in November, Sheriff Arpaio’s office started issuing subpoenas — consistently sent to the wrong address, despite repeated corrections from me — demanding that I show up at the trial of one or the other of these two guys. He even sent a deputy to my door to serve one of these papers, all of which inform me that if  I’m not there at 8 in the morning on thus-and-such a day, I will be jailed, and that I have to sit there until a judge dismisses me. Each one has to be answered, by return mail, in the affirmative, to the effect that yes, I have received the latest piece of paper and yes, I promise to show up there, and yes, I know I will be thrown in jail if I don’t show up. I’ve probably received about a dozen of these, partly because they send two or three at a time and partly because the trial has repeatedly been postponed.

It looks like the trial is finally going to happen this Wednesday.

At this point, they’re trying two of the thugs…interestingly, last fall they said one of them had copped a plea. So why we’re having to jump through double hoops is unclear. But that’s far from the most ridiculous aspect of the interminable series of subpoenas.

Silliest aspect? I can’t even begin to identify either of these characters.

One never came anywhere near me or my house, and so I’ve never seen him in my life. The other hunkered down in my garage, on the other side of a dead-bolted door. Two dead-bolted doors, actually, since I locked myself inside my office when it became clear the gent was out there. The only glimpse I got of him was of the back of his head, seen from way across the street as they dragged the guy, kicking and biting, to the paddy wagon.

The only help I can give the prosecutor is to say whether the shirt, the rubber gardening shoes, and an old straw hat that he used to try to disguise himself as a lawn man actually belong to me. This identification could easily be done with a deposition, without dragging me into the courtroom and without exposing me to the attention of the two thugs’ fellow gang-bangers. And without making it obvious, in public, that I live here alone.

The subpoenas punctiliously delete the “victim’s” address. As though they didn’t already know where I live! Hey, folks…they were here. And the night after our boy was released from jail, he came back to retrieve his gun from my back yard — he left the back gate hanging open as a calling card.

Try as I might, I cannot get a straight story from the prosecutor’s office as to how much of my time this fiasco is going to consume. Am I going to be down at the court all day Wednesday? Can I expect this will go on for several days? How much is it going to cost me to park my car downtown all day long? Can I bring a computer so I can do some work while I’m killing time down there? Will they let me take a computer into the courtroom?

I’m supposed to give a presentation at 7:30 on Thursday morning. And since I’m standing in for the group’s president while he recovers from bypass surgery, I have to be there with the organization’s checkbook so as to pay for the Thursday breakfast.

At this point, I have no idea whether I’ll be able to do that or not.

It’s better than last November’s subpoena, which would have had me docked for at least a day of teaching pay — and since my classes met twice a week, that would have meant loss of a fourth of a two-week paycheck. But it’s still a nuisance.

Today I’m going to call the prosecutor’s office again — they’re very nice people; they just don’ t know anything — and if I can’t get a straight story, I guess I’ll have to cancel the presentation and try to get one of the other group members to emcee the meeting and pay for breakfast.

I’m starting to lose patience with this. It’s gone on and on, and it shows some potential to put me at risk, since you can be sure anything I say about either one of the two sh!theads, even “yes, that’s my shirt,” is not going to be appreciated by his fellow sh!theads. And whether they care about their pal or not, they will now know I’m an elderly woman who lives alone, making me a prime target for burglary and possibly other mayhem.

Obviously, the prosecutor’s office needs to get crime victims and witnesses to show up at the courtroom to testify against perps. And that’s fine — I’m happy to be present and to help out to the extent that I can. The issue here is that I can’t help much, or possibly even at all. And the endless badgering from the sheriff’s office has begun to annoy. I’m tired of the threats. And really, I’d like to get a straight story about how much of my time will be absorbed by this — that shouldn’t be too much to ask.

It’s beginning to feel like victimizing the victim. I’m not looking forward to whatever happens next…

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