Leading with Empathy - Step #10
When charged with a crime there is a struggle between the formal power of the prosecutor and judge, and "our side". The status quo is to be lead down the path of the case by the folks with the formal power and take what you get.
Some other folks take an approach of trying to claim their own formal power, and things can get heated and both sides lose focus of the common goal. There is always the right case for a formal power vs formal power battle, but most cases are a better fit for using informal power. An unnecessary and losing approach to formal power vs formal power usually ends up with someone in jail with a criminal record.
I believe in empowerment for my client and inviting the prosecutor and judge on this journey. We must stimulate the right balance between the top-down approach which the judge and prosecutor are used to, and a bottom-up approach where my client is created like a human, and their needs are considered during the case. We must build trust for my client and the cooperation of the power brokers.
A judge and prosecutor who are willing to engage in empowerment of all parties is going to create growth in the folks that appear before them and can empower a community to focus on the collective good. An empowering culture is the best path to equality and empathy in society.
When my client's approach their cases, I say "what result do we want to create"; I know the results I have created in the past, but I want my clients to come up with both the goals and the solution to succeed. As a leader of clients, I create an empowering culture; take a step back as an "expert" and let my client create their path to success. There is nothing more powerful than an empowered client who has the pen in hand with the ability to write the next chapter in their life.
Real life example of stimulating empowerment
I work in many courts that have known "policies" or status quo outcomes, and it's expected that all cases will be treated the same; some judges deny this, but some embrace it. This is a top-down approach where the judge and prosecutor try to control the outcome and squeeze each case into the status quo.
While we must acknowledge both the judge and prosecutor do have formal powers, it's imperative to find the right mix of a bottom-up approach where my client's voice and concerns are part of the outcome.
A judge that "sends everyone to jail" is a top-down approach; creating a proactive plan that adopts jail alternatives and strikes at the heart of the question of punishment vs rehabilitative goals empowers my client to change the culture of the court.
My client wants to create the opposite result of the typical outcome, and they are willing to put in the hard work to make it happen. We must put ego aside, approach the matter in a humble way, and overwhelm the power brokers with a reason to divert from the status quo; anything is possible if you're willing to grow and step outside of your comfort zone.