Reality Check: Justice is Slow

I was scared.

I was told I would be seeing Al Chase in court on August 23rd. I was told he was expected to plea guilty. I was also told I’d have the opportunity to speak my Victim Impact Statement aloud; an opportunity for me to articulate how Al’s crimes affected me emotionally, physically, and psychologically. 

Being able to deliver a Victim Impact Statement is an incredible gift. I believe it’s the best part of the American Justice System in regards to it’s treatment of victims. But writing a Victim Impact Statement felt nothing short of impossible. 

In the weeks leading up to that court date, I couldn’t function properly. I wasn’t eating, I wasn’t sleeping, I lost weight, and the thought of composing my statement made me physically ill. I would sit down at my laptop to write, only to jump up and distract myself by cleaning an already tidy apartment.

Eventually I got it done. I cried a lot, both privately and in front of family (a first for me as an adult). It brought back many painful memories. Despite the fear, I knew it would be over soon.

Flash forward to August 23rd: Al Chase’s lawyers informed the prosecution he wouldn’t be pleading guilty anymore. He and his lawyers wanted more time to work out a deal, and Al’s defense attorneys were able to delay the court date yet again; this time, the delay was on the grounds of Al’s official lawyer not being present. 

I was admittedly blindsided. I felt angry and disappointed. I expected an outcome and was devastated when my expectations were unfulfilled. 

Rather than get bogged down by the court date being moved into late September, I am focusing on the positives:

– My Statement is done! I wrote it. I don’t have to write it again. 

– I have learned to expect things to drag on, rather than for the case to close. I won’t be disappointed again.

– I got to meet with prosecutor Joseph Gentile and my Victim Witness Advocate. They explained that Al will likely pull every trick in the book to drag the case out as long as possible.  He’s expected to plea guilty next, change his plea to ‘not guilty,’ go to trial, then plea ‘guilty’ again…

Things didn’t go as planned, but I’m learning. 

My trip wasn’t a waste of time; it was an opportunity to see firsthand how the justice system works. My expectations are more realistic now. And despite the setback today, I’m hopeful I’ll be able to deliver my statement someday soon.

Al might be able to drag this on for another year, or longer… but he’s still spending a small fortune on his lawyers to keep him out of prison. With the evidence as it stands now, he’s only delaying the inevitable. I still have faith things will work out and justice will be served. 


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