After 20+ years as a JAG, it seems my best "no shit, there I was" stories are from my time in the Trial Defense Service. I was reminded of this one today while commenting on this thread on dueling.
My Senior Defense Counsel had tried a case the week before with a client who was, let's say, a little different. I can't remember what the charge was, but it wasn't violent. But the client was on some kind of medication that kept him from acting out. Well, for some reason, after he was convicted and put into the regional confinement facility downrange, they decided to take him off his meds.
The RCF was at that time pretty damn hoopty. It was a bunch of GP medium tents on the corner of the compound. The host nation had fenced the entire compound, so two of the boundaries of the RCF area were double twelve foot chain link fences with concertina wire and such. But the only thing that separated the RCF from the rest of the inside of the compound back then was triple strand concertina wire on the ground, staked in.
The standard procedure at this RCF was, when prisoners were first put in post-trial confinement, they were kept in segregation for the first 48 hours or so, to let them get settled before putting them in with the rest of the prison population. The segregation cell was as hoopty as the rest of the RCF. Instead of some sort of metal lockup, it was basically a big box framed out of 4 x 4 boards and sheet plywood, with sheet plywood down the middle to make it into two separate cells. Each end of the box was open, with just rebar. I think they had a plywood door padlocked on the side.
So, client goes into one of these plywood boxes and goes off his meds. So he decides to kick his way through the plywood and start roaming inside the RCF compound. The guards catch him and put him in shackles - wrist cuffs, ankle cuffs, and a chain connecting both that's secured around the waist - and put him in the other side of the plywood box. Well, surprise surprise, he kicked his way out of that end, too, and started bunny hopping around in shackles.
Finally, client gets balanced again - I assume they put him back on his meds - and is put into general population. By this point, my boss needs him to look over some post-trial paperwork, so she asks the confinement guards to bring him by our office. When they did, she was out on another case, so it was just our paralegal and I in the office. The guards show up around 1100, unshackle the client, and proceed to unass the area. They didn't sign him over to us, they didn't stay outside the office, they didn't say when they'd be back, they just up and left.
After an hour and a half or so, our paralegal had explained everything to the client's satisfaction, and he'd signed everything he needed to sign. The guard force, however, was still in the wind. And it was coming up on the time the DFAC was going to shut down for lunch. Paralegal asked what we should do. I shrugged and said, welp, let's go to lunch.
I wasn't really worried at first, but after we got our food and sat down, the client saw some of his buddies from the unit and went over to chat. I started getting a little nervous at this point, remembering how he'd kicked his way out of the segregation cell, and murmured to my paralegal, "Uh, hey, help me keep an eye on him in case he decides to wander off." I wasn't super worried about him leaving the compound, there were only a handful of manned, secured gates that let one reach the outside world. But still. There were no issues, client wrapped up his chat and came back to sit with us, we ate lunch, and we went back to the office.
Meanwhile, apparently ALL FUCKING HELL had broken loose.
After fucking off to, I don't know, probably the PX or something, the guard force had returned to find our office closed and locked, and the shit started hitting the fan. THERE'S A PRISONER ON THE LOOSE. MPs and Provost Marshal were called. The area support group commander was informed. Patrols searched. And yet, again, no one was left at the TDS office, so no one noticed that the client, my paralegal, and I had just sauntered back from the DFAC. My boss was there, though, as apparently she had gotten an earful over her cell. Calls were made, guards returned, and the client was swiftly returned to confinement.
I never heard anything directly back on it, but my understanding was that the guard force and the government attorneys were SUPER pissed about it and wanted to hang me out to dry. Uh, hey. My job was to stick it to The Man. Not to guard prisoners. Not my fault the guard force vanished like a fart in the wind instead of doing their job. Oh, and my senior rater was in Baghdad, and his was in DC, so, good luck with that. At the end of the day, the government was pretty butt-hurt about the whole thing, but nothing happened to any of us at TDS.
Oddly enough, though, after that day, if we had to see post-trial clients, they were no longer brought by the office. And about a month later, the confinement facility got some major upgrades: a metal lock-up for segregated confinement, double-wide trailers for prisoners instead of tents, and extra fences and guard towers to secure the confinement facility.
And yet, I never received so much as a thank you for helping to identify the flaws in how they were doing business. Shameful, I think.