In the Matter of Edwin Potter:

chapter 2, case opened (pg. 28ff)

A seeming eternity passed before an unimposing bald-headed man dressed in a brown suit and holding a large handful of folders came in and stood in front of Edwin’s cell.

“Are you Mr. Potter?”

How does this person know me? Edwin asked himself. Did they send him here?


“I’m Bart Sanders. I’m a public defender. The judge is going to want to make a decision on your case today. How do you want to plead?”

Edwin did not understand. And he had never asked for help in his life. It was time to start. It wasn’t going to change anything that they were going to do.

“I-I’ve never done anything like this. I need help.”

Mr. Sanders only stood and looked at him. Then he spoke.

“All right. I’ll make the request before the judge.”

Then he turned and left, and Edwin was alone with his thoughts once again.

Another eternity passed, and a woman came and stood in front of his cell.


Edwin did not recognize this woman.

“Edwin? I’m Sandy Clare, Jack’s mother. Do you remember? The two of you used to play in my yard and swim in the pool together. I work here in the County jail. I heard that you were here.”

The name of Jack Clare sounded familiar, and the two of them did play together in grammar school. His remembrances came back. Yes! He did remember that Jack’s mother worked in the jail, but was this really the jail? Why did she come to see him? Were they trying to get on his good side? Did she owe them a favor? Edwin was more confused than ever. He just stood and looked.

“How did you get the mark on your neck?” she asked.

“I tried to cut my throat.”

“I’ll get a nurse to take a look at it. I’m hoping the best for you.”

And she left.

Sometime later a nurse did come to Edwin’s cell to take a look at the cut. She looked at it, decided that it was only minor, and took no action other than to write in her chart that Edwin was a danger to himself.

Lunch arrived: two boiled hot dogs with slices of bread and something to drink. Edwin took a bite, then flushed it all down the toilet. He had been told that the food was poisoned. No bad effects resulted, though, from the mouthful he had eaten.

More time passed. Two guards came to his cell with handcuffs and an orange jumpsuit. One spoke.

“Put this on. The judge wants to see you.”

So Edwin put the jumpsuit on. Then one guard put the cuffs on him, and they all walked over to the crowded courtroom where he was instructed to stand by the wall.

Bart Sanders made his way to Edwin’s side and also instructed him.

“Let me talk. Don’t say anything unless the judge asks you directly. Is that clear?”


In a few minutes his case was called.

“State versus Potter. Is Mr. Potter here?”

“Yes, Your Honor,” answered Mr. Sanders.

“You are counsel for the defendant, Mr. Sanders?”

“Yes, Your Honor.”

“You are prosecutor, Ms. Bailey?”

“Yes, Your Honor.”

“What are the charges, Prosecutor?”

“At present two counts each of atrocious assault and battery with a weapon, Your Honor. I wish to point out at this time that the victims are currently in critical care at Saint Mark’s Hospital. These charges may change pending any changes in their medical conditions.”

“Mr. Sanders.”

“I am requesting psychiatric observation for my client, Your Honor. He does not seem to understand the gravity of his situation at the present time. A medical note from the nurse at the County jail indicates that Mr. Potter is a danger to himself as well as to others. Also, according to the records available to us, Your Honor, Mr. Potter has no prior criminal history.”

“Results of the urine test, Prosecutor?”

“Negative, Your Honor. No drug usage found.”

The judge considered for a moment the arguments that he had just heard.

“All right. Effective immediately, Mr. Potter is to be sent to the maximum-security facility at State Psychiatric Hospital for observation for a period of thirty days. I will expect a report from the treating doctor at that time stating his findings and Mr. Potter’s prognosis.”