February 18, 2008
At 9:00 last Friday morning, Josh and I sat in a federal courtroom in downtown San Diego. Between us were Javier's wife, his mother, and his two children. This is the day that Javier is scheduled to be sentenced. Personally, I haven't heard from Javier since Christmas; I had written him in early January telling him I would be there when he was sentenced. Javier's friends and cousins had traveled down from Los Angeles (100 miles) to be of support. When Josh and I arrived, Javier's wife told us that the lawyer was stuck at home because of a freak snow storm in the mountains yesterday. Interstate 8 is closed. The CHP is supposed to have the freeway open in a couple of hours. Everyone is eager to get the sentencing overwith, so we go into the courtroom to wait.
We observed two cases with plea agreements. This is my first time in a federal courtroom, and it was a little startling to hear the government's attorney introduce himself to the judge as "Mr. Shepherd for the United States." Javier had the entire country against him. The judge seemed pretty fair for the two cases we witnessed.
At 10:00, a clerk told us it would be about an hour before Javier's case would come up. Josh and I walked across the street to Wendy's to get something to eat. Around 10:30, Javier's wife called us to tell us that the lawyer wasn't going to make it and the case was postponed until next Friday. We left Wendy's and met them in front of the federal courthouse. All the other friends and relatives were gone, except for the immediate family, who were planning to stay through the afternoon until they could visit with Javier. It was 10:45, and they told us that they were sometimes there until 8 PM for a visit, which could last anywhere from 30 minutes to two hours. Josh invited them to his house to hang out with his wife and kids, but they had already paid $28 for parking the whole day.
Please continue to pray for Javier and his family. Each day his sentencing is delayed adds stress to their lives. He faces a minimum of six years in prison, and will serve the time either in Long Beach (110 miles away) or somewhere in Iowa.
Pray also for the study at the Miramar brig. We began the book of Joshua in January, and have a small group of excited men. Pray especially for Chris C and Chris D, both of whom will be released in the next six months, and will be going to uncertain situations.
Thanks for your generous donations in December, and for your prayers for my Dad. He came home from the nursing home this past Saturday. Coming home is what he has been working toward, but certainly brings up other issues for the long term.