“Good morning, my name is Mark Jankowitz. I have been assigned to represent you,” the suit said, as he handed me his business card, which indicated that he was an 18-B attorney.
“Good morning,” I responded.
“Mr. Goldstein, if I were you, and had money, I would hire myself a private attorney,” Jankowitz offered, as this short, ruffled man with uncombed brown hair appeared to take pleasure in the fact that I was basically at his mercy as far as my eventual freedom was concerned.
But what was he saying? Was he hinting to me that he wanted some money under the table, or was he indicating that he just wasn’t a good enough attorney to handle my case?
“When we get into the courtroom, I’m going to ask the judge to release you on your own recognizance, or R.O.R. you,” Jankowitz said. “But since you confessed, there’s no way he’s going to go for it. Now, tell me what happened.”
Feeling a sense of urgency, and with my nerves doing the cha-cha throughout my body, I proceeded to tell my mouthpiece how, in the midst of a drug and alcohol binge, and feeling pressured to come up with the six hundred and forty dollars that I owed my bookmaker, I robbed three dry cleaning stores on the East Side of Manhattan.
“I’m an alcoholic and a drug addict, and a compulsive gambler, too,” I stated, as if he, the judge, and the assistant district attorney were simply going to excuse the whole incident as one big ill-advised act.
“But I see here from your rap sheet that you were convicted of robbery in the third degree in 1994,” Jankowitz replied. “That makes you a predicate.”
“What about the fact that Detectives Burns and Foley promised that if I confessed, they would see to it that I would go home and not be prosecuted?” I fired back.
“They’ll never admit in court to doing that,” Jankowitz answered. “I’ll see what I can do. But when we go into the courtroom, don’t say a word because you said enough already.”
.After having just referred to my loose-lipped confession, Jankowitz then turned and went back into the courtroom, as I departed the interview area to bury myself in my thoughts.
I remember hoping the judge was Jewish and a woman, just the type of mother-figure who could sympathize with my problems. And who knew? Maybe I would be released R.O.R. without having to post bail.
Minutes later, the C.O. opened the bullpen door and escorted me in handcuffs into the courtroom. Upon entering, I couldn’t help but feel that all eyes were on me, and how the judge, a man in his sixties, appeared to be in an unpleasant mood.
“Docket number 98N0639, the People of the State of New York versus Gary Goldstein,” the court clerk announced. “The charges are 160.10 (robbery in the second degree) and 205.30 (resisting arrest).”
“Resisting arrest?” I mumbled under my breath. “That cop tackled me and I didn’t resist at all. What’s going on here?”
“Mr. Goldstein, how do you plead?” Judge Kaufman asked. I had gotten at least one of my wishes granted.
As if I needed it, Jankowitz bent over and whispered in my ear, “Not guilty,” as I revealed the same out loud.
“Your Honor, the People ask for bail in the amount of ten thousand dollars,” Assistant District Attorney Lois Booker-Williams said.
“Judge, can we approach?” Jankowitz responded, as he, Booker-Williams, and Judge Kaufman huddled up for a sidebar conference, leaving me alone and in the dark as to what was being discussed.
When the meeting broke up and all the players were back in place, Judge Kaufman simply said, “The People’s bail request is granted in the amount of ten thousand dollars.”
“Step back,” the burly and well-armed court officer ordered, as he and his female partner escorted me out of the courtroom and into another bullpen, this one undoubtedly for those who weren’t going home straight from court.
As I was led away, I made eye contact with Mr. Jankowitz, but he didn’t say a word, and I wouldn’t see him anymore that day.
I felt a strong need to call my parents.
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