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Old 05-25-2010, 05:01 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Writing a letter to a judge for a sponsee

One of my new guys is going in for sentencing for DUI #5 (in his lifetime). In Michigan, anything over #3 is a felony and can get you up to 5 years in prison. Odds are, he'll do some time....and it probably won't just be 30, 60, or 90 days.

I've only been hooked up with him for about three weeks and, given that he's trying to get his house, wife, family, finances, etc in order.......and given that he's not REALLY completely bought into the program yet, I'm not really sure what to say in this letter. I wish he was "all-in" but he just isn't yet. Maybe with more time......who knows though.

So anyway, I'm looking for some suggestions (specific ones would be great ) on what to say. I don't think it's in his best interest to say "I'm not sure about this one" but I also don't want to overstate the truth and thereby give him "permission" to only work part of the deal here.

Anyway, some guidance would be cool. I'm headed to a 8:30 meeting now but I have to get this thing written tonight. I'll bb later to check this thread.

I'm really jammed for time right now because my ride will be here any minute but, when I get back home and get some more of it done, maybe I'll post it up here.

thx in advance.... Mike
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Old 05-25-2010, 05:12 PM   #2 (permalink)
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I'm sure there will be discussion on the propriety of writing the letter in the first place. I can imagine circumstances in which I would write a letter. I can't imagine any circumstances in which I'd stretch the truth.

If you feel writing it is the best course of action, my suggestion would be to practice rigorous honesty -- and to emphasize that you are an individual not representing the fellowship as a whole.

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Old 05-25-2010, 05:19 PM   #3 (permalink)
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hmm 3 weeks huh

Sounds like a hail Mary. Did he start going to meetings a while back or just trying to impress the judge?

Harsh reality what can you say to a judge about his program? I don't buy into that crap of signing a paper to help someone out unless, they've been sincere in their efforts.
I told my son and his lawyer as well after he picked up a third DUI while out on bail for a second one, it would look better if, he started going to AA to address his drinking problem. He's not taking my advice. I hope, the judge gives him jail time. Everyone deserves a second chance. I don't want my son killed while drinking and driving nor any innocent person while, he's behind the wheel.
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Old 05-25-2010, 07:17 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DayTrader View Post
I've only been hooked up with him for about three weeks and, given that he's trying to get his house, wife, family, finances, etc in order.......and given that he's not REALLY completely bought into the program yet, I'm not really sure what to say in this letter. I wish he was "all-in" but he just isn't yet. Maybe with more time......who knows though.

So anyway, I'm looking for some suggestions (specific ones would be great ) on what to say. I don't think it's in his best interest to say "I'm not sure about this one" but I also don't want to overstate the truth and thereby give him "permission" to only work part of the deal here.
I've also written letters of appraisal and some are more difficult than others to be sure. Since your saying he's not "all in yet" you must not understate that while at the same time make it clear what he is accomplishing. Its not just what are his best interests but also the public interest is to be weighed.

The other thing is what ever you write I would for sure let him know before it is presented unless it is not allowed. Nobody likes surprises.

Good luck. Anyways, you're a good man with a good conscience. It shows in your posts here at SR. Your guy is fortunate to have you.

RR
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Old 05-25-2010, 07:19 PM   #5 (permalink)
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I can't vouch for a man's character in 3 weeks. In fact, I think I would be a little put off if asked to. I mean honestly what can you say? " Your Honor, I met this guy 3 weeks ago, he's sober right now, he goes to some AA meetings." It sounds to me like it's one of those situations in which an attorney has advised him to get someone in AA to vouch for him. It isn't like this court case just all of a sudden came to the forefront. Yet you have to write a letter tonight?
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Old 05-25-2010, 07:33 PM   #6 (permalink)
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"practice rigorous honesty -- and to emphasize that you are an individual not representing the fellowship as a whole."

I'll second that. I would find your position to be rather difficult. Try to state the facts. If the guy is on his fith DUI, his commitment seems sketchy, and you've only know him a few weeks, his prognosis doesn't seem great by any statistical measure. You know the facts better than we do. Communicate them as effectively and honestly as you can. I would write a letter abstaining from anything other than mentioning the number of meetings attended if you are unsure of where this person is really at. Court mandated aa has always confused me as there are other options that are effective, and it is not nesc the best for someone even if they are sincere in changing. To thine ownself be true.
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Old 05-25-2010, 08:52 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Exclamation Writing a letter to a judge for a sponsee....

In my experience as a Mental Health Counselor I worked with clients that had a mental illness & alcohol problems in which some were involved with the law enforcement.

We had a two year deferred sentencing program connected with the court that included attending AA, Alcohol Counseling, & either an in- or out- patient alcohol treatment program. There also was a School-type group for all drug/alcohol arrests. If they failed to follow through with their treatment plan the deferred was revoked & they either were sentenced to jail or home monitor.

My personal experience didn't involve a DUI or law inforcement...I went to ask for help & got sober & help for my depression at mental health where I did go to work after I finished my BA Degree in Psychology.

But since it hadn't been 5 years since being in an alcohol treatment program or an Emotional Health Locked Unit....I had to go through a lot of requirements from the State Department of Health to be a Licensed Counselor.

I had to have the alcohol tx center write a letter explaining my progress & if I completed the program.

I had to have the Psychiatrist that dx my Depression/Anxiety write a letter to explain my in-patient tx & if I completed it sucessfully.

Then my doctor had to write a letter every three months to explain my follow-up care & if I was following through with it.

My Alcohol Sponsor had to write a note every three months confirming I was still attending three AA Meetings a week.

Then I had to write a review each month of my progress, my goals, & how many AA Meetings I attended that month.

I had no reminders other than what I kept on my calendar but was never late with any of the needed requirements.

This is what was required of me with a four year college degree & I did not like it at first but I liked my job & felt my personal experience, strengths, & hope for a future without alcohol was worth it all. Today I have 21 years of sobriety & am retired from my job that made me feel like I could do something to help others find their way.

Several times I went to court with a client & this particular judge did take letters in consideration for the person before the court. This was a long time ago & now we have drug/alcohol courts here & I believe it is somewhat similar to the deferred program.

Just knowing someone three or four weeks is questionable other than what has been observed by the sponsor....remember alcohol is cunning & baffling & so can the sponsee be a con artist with a sincere desire to quit drinking but that is the easy part. Staying quit and not driving drunk is another story...5 times in all is something that should never have happened.


kelsh
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Old 05-25-2010, 08:57 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Just got back home a little while ago. E-ghad... there was a 21 yr old first-timer there and the old codgers found it necessary to lecture to this kid for 2 hours about their multiple dui's, crappy marriages, where they worked, how they thought about every single solitary individual they've met in the past 10 years, why they didn't like this or that or this-guy or that-guy because he said this or that to them one day back in '74.....on and on. I swear.......it's a frickin miracle anyone stays sober given some of the CRAP that goes on at some of the meetings around here. (there, I feel powerful again now that I've ranted about how much better things would be if everyone just followed MY instruction...... lol )

Anyway, my guy got a 2 or 3 week extension so we'll see. Given that time is limited and that the softer/gentler/loving approach hasn't had much impact..... I think it's time to start some "in-home" big book study. I guess I'll find out real quick just how serious he is.

thanks for the input guys (and by "guys" i mean the gals too. )
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Old 05-26-2010, 06:19 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Given that time is limited and that the softer/gentler/loving approach hasn't had much impact..... I think it's time to start some "in-home" big book study. I guess I'll find out real quick just how serious he is.
This is my approach, DayTrader. Meet him on Friday, and if he shows up on Saturday, we start in the Dr.'s Opinion and find out about his experience, sharing some of my own where it applies to what we're reading.

I have to remember that I'm limited to "When we see a man sinking into the mire that is alcoholism, we give him first aid and place what we have at his disposal." And that's all I can do, place what I have at his disposal. If I do more than that, I'm sideways.

Here's the problem, the physical craving and the mental obsession. Here is my only hope of not repeating this over and over. Here is what I did.

And take him through the Steps if he'll have it.

quotes from aabb1st
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Old 05-26-2010, 08:16 AM   #10 (permalink)
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I was asked to write a letter once. The guy had his license suspended for a DUI and still drove to meetings and I suppose everywhere else as well. I asked him if he wanted me to be honest. He said "yes!" I told him I'd have to say that I'd seen him driving to meetings. He said, "forget it."

Be honest. If you can't say something honest and accurate, don't say anything at all. There are others who know him better. You need to live with yourself.
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Old 05-26-2010, 09:46 AM   #11 (permalink)
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I'm pending my 2nd dui court date. I've got 150 days sober, I'm on step 8, and I'm fairly active in my home group and with my sponsor.

This sort of hits home for me b/c...well, I'm sort of the guy you're talking about.

Only 3 weeks in AA and he already wants a letter from "his sponsor"? What exactly can this letter say, really?

I feel really sorry for the guy and I'm sure he's desperate.
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Old 05-26-2010, 07:29 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Can ya write me one while you're at it? :rotfxko
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Old 05-26-2010, 08:55 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Can i get one too, but a generic one with no reference to the actual indident just in case;-) Joking of course...some prayer and counsel of people who's advice you can rely on will see you through this one i'm sure...good luck:-)
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Old 05-27-2010, 07:18 PM   #14 (permalink)
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thats one thing i don`t do,write letters to judges for alcoholics
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Old 05-27-2010, 11:08 PM   #15 (permalink)
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I mean in realty Joe Blow can write a letter for me if I need one bad enough.

How do I sign this letter? I donít want to break my personal anonymity, at any level.

In my experience, It's not our job to focus on any one individual and report their behavior. And I certainly don't sign my full name on anything related to NA.

I head Bill Wilson speak once on the traditions where he said in one short breath. The traditions were designed to protect us from ourselves, particularly to "take power AWAY" from us, never to give any power or authority to us.

So then why are we writing letters in the name of AA.

TB
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