Judge Lillian Sing got a taste of judicial medicine when a convicted car burglar she was trying to help walked out of her San Francisco courtroom and, within minutes, was busted for allegedly breaking into her car.
Phillip Bernard was in Community Court on Tuesday for a check of his progress while on probation for an auto burglary conviction.
Bernard, who is homeless, had missed an earlier appearance and had failed to follow his probation requirements. “I wasn’t too happy with him,” Sing said.
But Community Court is set up to get people help, not send them to jail for minor infractions. So Sing let him off with a stern admonishment.
“I told him he had better get into a harm reduction program and get going with a job search,” Sing said.
No sooner did Sing’s gavel go down, however, than Bernard exited the Polk Street courtroom, went around to the alley in back, pulled out a weighted sock and smashed the rear passenger window of a car, police said.
As fate would have it, a couple of beat cops were passing by. They nabbed Bernard, ran the car’s plate and bingo – up popped the judge’s name.
“He did it right under my nose,” Sing said.
Bernard, 32, is now back behind bars, facing another auto burglary charge.
His next court date is Tuesday, this time in Superior Court.
As for this validating those who say Community Court is just a revolving door for petty criminals like Bernard?
“He’s just one of 1,600 we deal with,” Sing said. “Most of them do really well.”
Maybe – but this is the one who is going to be remembered.