Guard the Tongue

The ancients knew that the tongue is dangerous and the mouth is treacherous. According to Proverbs 21:23 (NIV), “He who guards his mouth and his tongue keeps himself from calamity.” This truth is particularly important in the criminal-law context.

When I worked for the Coles County State’s Attorney’s Office, I witnessed on many occasions when defendants (usually pro se, but not always) would make life much more difficult for themselves by failing to guard their mouths in court. A good example* is where one day, at a DCFS (Illinois Department of Children and Family Services) shelter-care hearing, a mother did her best to convince the judge of what she wanted to have happen with her children, but made an incriminating statement in the process. The DCFS investigator testified that mom kept cocaine in the house and the children could have accessed the cocaine. Mom, not to be bested by the investigator, insisted that there was no way the kids would have been around the drug; she made sure they could not get into it.

As you might imagine, as a prosecutor at the time, I was delighted to hear the defendant confess to cocaine possession. I was also glad that a court reporter was present to preserve the record.

*This post is a based on a true story, but the facts have been altered by me to disguise the identity of the case and the defendant.

Jeremy J. Richey, Attorney at Law
© Jeremy J. Richey and The East Central Illinois Criminal Law & DUI Weblog, 2008-2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.