You’ve heard it a thousand times: a reporter asks family members on the steps of the court house, “Do you believe justice was served today?”. Usually one side says yes and the other, no. True justice, God’s justice, is rarely served in today’s humanistic courts. The word justice in the Bible generally means the godly administration of judgment and the application of God’s righteousness. Restitution and restoration are the essence of justice.
I was fortunate enough to experience Godly justice recently at the local District Justice.
My daughter and I had just returned home from an all-day trip to Philadelphia. It was around 7 PM in late October so it was quite dark. We had failed to leave any lights on at the house which is why I
believe our house was targeted. We were half-way to the door when I heard the unmistakable sound: someone having batting practice on our mailbox! I immediately returned to the car and was easily able to catch up to the perpetrator’s vehicle and acquire the license plate number.
A call to the Pennsylvania State Police had Trooper Lopez at our door in little over an hour. After getting the details of the event and giving me a copy of the Pennsylvania State Police Victim/Witness Guide, the trooper set out to talk to the vehicle’s owner.
The next day I received a call from Trooper Lopez stating that he had talked to the young man and that he had confessed to the crime. He was immediately charged with violating PA Statute Code 18 3304 A5 – CRIMINAL MISCHIEF DAMAGE REAL OR PERSONAL PROPERTY. Although there were others in the vehicle, the young man took full responsibility for being the driver and batter in the crime.
Fast-forward 8 weeks to District Court 23-3-03 for the Summary Trial. Judge Victor M. Frederick asked the officer for the particulars of the case, which he gave very accurately. The judge had a few questions
for the young man and gave him a good lecture on how something as minor as this could lead to other events which could potentially land him in deeper trouble with the courts, altering his life-plans for months or even years!
Then came the restitution discussion. After some time, Judge Frederick was about to render his verdict of a fine, court costs, plus restitution. Without getting into particulars, this would have been a fairly large expense, especially for an 18 year-old. The judge stated that all three entities (The Court, the State (officer), and the Victim (me)) had to be in agreement with the sentence. My turn to speak… I told Judge Frederick that generally speaking, there are two ways of handling most situations: God’s way and the wrong way. I said that for matters of a fairly minor nature, Biblical justice requires double restitution to the victim as stated in Exodus 22:4 and elsewhere. Silence… then…
Imagine my surprise when Judge Frederick ordered double restitution! The young man asked about the fine and court costs. The judge stated that if he made double restitution to me there would be no other costs! That’s right, no other costs. The fine and court costs were waved which means that the legitimate functions of the officer and court were paid for by tax dollars with no fine money going to state coffers! This was actually better for the young criminal financially, as well and he thanked each of us before he departed.
So my day in court was better than I could have hoped or prayed for. I certainly didn’t get rich on the double restitution, but that’s not the intent. Turns out that with my time, travel, gasoline, etc. factored in everything worked out fine. Imagine that, doing it God’s way just happened to work out perfectly!
“Was justice served?” Yes! Hats off to Judge Frederick!
~ Toby Grater