Archive for May, 2010

Librarian…Lawyer…What’s the diff?

Patrons, no matter their economic, social, religious or educational standing can be a teensy bit demanding at times. They demand their fines be forgiven (“I swear I turned that book in! You people lost it, not me!”); they insist we deliver the goods (“My daughter’s report is due tomorrow…how can you not have a single book on her obscure topic available?”); and they expect us to know everything (“Can you show me how to fix my transmission so I don’t have to take my car to a mechanic?”). As it turns out, however, public and academic librarians just might have it easy when it comes to the demands of their patron population…

I am a correctional librarian in Virginia, and with this type of work come lots of funny and/or awkward moments. Most of the time though inmates forget that I am a librarian and not a lawyer …

Me: How can I help you?

Inmate: Well, I want my sentence reduced. (He is talking about a motion of reconsideration, which inmates can file to ask the judge to reconsider and/or modify the sentence … but you need good reasons to prove that you made progress and deserve a shorter sentence).

Me: Okay … do you have good reasons that could convince the judge to reconsider your sentence?

I/m: Well, I am not guilty.

Me: Well, did you plead guilty in court?

I/m: Yes.

Me: Why did you do that if you are innocent?

I/m: My lawyer said to plead guilty so that other charges might be dropped. But I did not do anything, so I want the judge to take time off my sentence.

Me: Well, it is not that easy. Once you said you are guilty, you can’t just go back and say “Well, can you take a few months off my sentence because I am not guilty after all”.

I/m: So what do you advise?

Me: I don’t advise you to do anything, I am not your lawyer.

I/m: But you are the librarian.

Me: (Good observation). Yes, and that is why I can’t give legal advice.

I/m: But my lawyer sucks.

Me: Well, you can complain to the VA state bar and have the lawyer investigated.

I/m: That’s too much work. I just want you to write a letter to the judge saying I am innocent and want my sentence reduced.

Me: -.-  I am sorry, I can’t do that.

I/m: Then this jail sucks. Give me a 1983 form so I can file a legal rights suit for you not helping me.

~“Arlene” Virginia, USA

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