Thursday, February 22, 2018

Abuse of Discretion - A Mystery That Matters - By Pamela Samuels Young


The police!
My mouth is as dry as sand. “I don’t have a naked picture of anybody on my phone, Mrs. Keller. I swear, I don’t. Why’d you call the police on me?”
“I had no choice.”
My right knee won’t stop bouncing up and down. “Who said I had a naked picture?”
“I can’t disclose that information.”
There’s a knock on the door. When two police officers step into the room, I almost pee on myself. They introduce themselves to the principal but ignore me.
One of the cops is short and Asian with biceps that look like two boulders. He turns around and mean mugs me. “Is this the student?”
Principal Keller nods and hands him a piece of paper. He reads it, then turns back to me.
“I’m Officer Chin and this is Officer Fenton,” the Asian cop says, referring to a tall white man with slicked-back hair who’s staring down at me too. “We need to talk to you.”
Officer Chin opens the side door leading into the principal’s private conference room and tells me to go inside. I’m so nervous it feels like I’m walking on toothpicks.
The white cop sits in the chair next to me and turns sideways. He’s sitting so close to me that his knee keeps brushing against my thigh. I want to ask him to move back, but I don’t. Officer Chin sits on the other side of the long table, glaring at me like I shot somebody.
“So, Graylin, do you know why you’re here?” Officer Chin asks.
“Nope,” I mumble. Then I hear my grandmother’s voice. She’s old school and is always telling me to be respectful to adults. “I mean, no, sir.”
I don’t like looking at the Asian cop. If they try a good-cop, bad-cop act on me, he’s probably going to play the bad cop.
“First, I need to tell you that you’re in some major trouble,” the mean one says.
I’ve already decided that’s what I’m going to call Officer Chin—Mean Cop—because that’s what he is.
I don’t say anything since he hasn’t asked me a question.
“How old are you?”
“Your principal got a report that you have a naked picture of one of your classmates on your phone.”
“But I don’t.” Not anymore.
“Do you know Kennedy Carlyle?”
“Is she your girlfriend?”
I screw up my face. “No.” Kennedy is way too stuck-up to be anybody’s girlfriend.
“Well, how do you know her?”
“She’s in my English and algebra classes.”
I don’t want to talk to them because I know they aren’t on my side. I watch a lot of TV crime shows with my granny. The cops always act like they want to help you, but they’d rather shoot a black kid than help him. That’s why we need Black Lives Matter. They just need to read me my rights and—Oh snap! I suddenly remember what my dad told me to do if the police ever stopped me.
I sit up straight and try to look brave. “My dad told me not to talk to the police without his permission.”
Mean Cop rolls his eyes. “Is that right? Does your daddy know you have a naked picture of one of your classmates on your phone?”
But I don’t. I want to smile, but I know that will get me in even more trouble.
Mean Cop grips the edge of the table and leans forward. “If I were you, I’d want to defend myself. So, if you want us to hear your side of the story, you better start talking.”
I don’t know what to do. I want to defend myself, but my dad gave me strict instructions. If a cop stops you, don’t say a damn word.
Officer Fenton bumps my thigh with his knee again which makes me flinch. “Look, Graylin, we need you to be honest with us. If you do, we can cut you some slack.”
Even though I wish he wouldn’t sit so close to me, at least he talks nice to me. Still, I keep quiet.
“According to the report we received,” Mean Cop continues, “you’ve been going all over the school showing people a naked picture of your classmate.”
Before I can stop myself, I blurt out, “No, I didn’t! Somebody’s lying on me!”
Of course, I’d planned to show the picture to my best friend Crayvon, but you can’t go to jail for something you were only thinking about doing.
“If you have the picture on your phone,” Officer Fenton says, “just be truthful about it and we’ll see what we can do to keep you out of trouble.”
They must think I’m stupid. I do what my dad told me to do and keep my mouth shut.
Mean Cop pounds the table with his fist, making me jump two inches out of my chair. “Where’s your phone?”
I still don’t answer. Everybody has the right to remain silent, even kids.
“I said where’s your phone?” Mean Cop repeats.
I hide my hands underneath the table, so he can’t see them shaking.
Officer Fenton pats me on the shoulder. “C’mon, Graylin, you seem like a good kid. I bet you make good grades, don’t you?”
I nod and start to tell them I got honors certificates in math and science last year, but I figure they still won’t let me go. “My dad”—I start to stutter—“my dad told me not to talk to the police without his permission.”
“Why don’t you help us out here?” Officer Fenton says. “We really need to see your phone. We’ll take a quick look and if there’s no picture, we’ll send you back to class.”
A squeaky voice comes out of my mouth. “It’s…it’s in my backpack.”
As soon as the words are out, I want to kick myself. Now I’ve just lied to the police. Again.
“And where’s your backpack?”
“In my locker.”
“Why don’t we go with you to your locker, so you can get it?” Officer Fenton says.
“My dad told me not to talk to the police without his permission,” I say for the third time.
Officer Fenton frowns. “This is a very serious matter, son.”
Mean Cop thumps his fingers on the table. “Why don’t you just—”

The voice of Young Thug singing RiRi fills the room. Ah-ah-ah work. Do the work baby do the work. Tonight baby do the work baby do the work.
When I hear my ringtone, my stomach lurches up into my throat. I’m about to throw up the oatmeal I had for breakfast.
Mean Cop scrunches up his face like a WWF wrestler. “Did your daddy also teach you to lie to the police? Give me the damn phone!”
I shakily pull it from my pocket and set it on the table.
Officer Fenton picks it up, taps the screen, then looks over at me. “What’s the password?”
I stare down at the table.
“I said what’s the password?” Now he’s turning mean too.
“LeBron forty-three.”
“For your sake, young man, I hope you’re telling us the truth.”
I keep my eyes on the table. A bead of sweat falls from my forehead into my eye, but I don’t wipe it away.
“Why’re you sweating?” Mean Cop says. “You afraid we’re going to find that naked picture?”
After a couple of minutes, Officer Fenton looks at Mean Cop and shakes his head. “Nothing in his photos or texts. I only see a few recent emails. Nothing there either.” He sets it back on the table.
Mean Cop grunts. “Let me look.” He stretches one of his short arms across the table and grabs my phone.
He taps the screen a few times, then starts smiling. “Well, well, well, what do we have here? Looks like you forgot to check his deleted pictures, partner.”
Mean Cop holds up my phone and shows me the picture I thought was gone forever. A warm trickle of pee runs down my left leg.
“You’re quite the little liar, aren’t you?” Mean Cop yells at me. “Where’re the rest of the pictures?”
“There aren’t any more,” I stutter. “That was the only one I had.”
“Did you take it?”
“You lied about your phone being in your locker, you lied about having this picture, and you’re still lying now!”
“My…my dad”—I can’t get my words out—“my dad told me not to talk to the police without his permission.”
“When your daddy told you that, he didn’t realize you’d be in this kind of trouble. If you didn’t take this picture, how’d it get on your phone?”
“Somebody sent it to me.”
“I don’t know.”
My throat hurts and it feels like somebody’s pressing down on my chest. If the table wasn’t in the way, I’d hug my knees to my chest.
Mean Cop pulls out his handcuffs and dangles them from his finger. “Stop lying and tell us the truth,” he barks. “If you don’t, you’re going to jail.”


Sometimes a Crime Isn't Always Criminal

Abuse of Discretion:
The Dre Thomas Series

Pamela Samuels Young

It was the character Graylin who tore at my emotions as I watched him being taken to the principal's office, based upon an anonymous call. Getting sent to the office was bad enough, but being brought there led Graylin to immediately wonder if something had happened to his mother...

Trying hard to think what it could be, he finally realized that it might be about a picture that had been sent to him also anonymously. It was a naked picture of a girl that was in some of his classes. He had saved it, but realized now that he shouldn't even have done that and deleted it while he waited.

But it wasn't the principal who would be talking to him; it was the police. At least they had called his dad, although he wasn't looking forward to having his dad learn the possible issue...

What was horrifying to me, and to many readers, is that Graylin had stated over and over to the police that he was not supposed to talk to the police without his father present. That was the beginning--the beginning of abuse--of Graylin, a 14-year-old boy who was smart, a good student, and a relatively well-behaved child... But the police kept pressing... questioning...

"You couldn't plead it down...?
"I tried...Prosecutors have a lot of
discretion as to who gets charged.
Some of them read the statues literally
and will go after anyone in possession
of a naked picture of a kid, even if it's
a thirteen-year-old child."
I pray to God Graylin hasn't taken a
naked picture of some girl. "So will
you take the case?"
"Yes, of course. It'll take me about
forty minutes to get down to Eastlake."
"Thanks. It sounds like Graylin might
be in some serious trouble.
"If he has a naked picture of an under-
age girl on his phone, there's no might
about it." Jenny says. "These days
a smartphone in the hands of a kid can
have more devastating consequences
than giving them a loaded gun. And
 the average parent doesn't have a
I remember how much I enjoyed
the Judging Amy show, which covered our juvenile criminal justice system. But now, Young had taken me into a "shocking look inside" that justice system in today's world. It is not an easy story to read, but a very important one!

Fortunately, Graylin's family and friends made sure that an experienced youth lawyer was hired. And, for me, the legal interaction with Graylin was the primary focus, even though this book is the third in the Dre Thomas Series and there is another plot line moving concurrently... where you'll be meeting "The Shepherd" who is sitting in a low risk federal correctional facility while planning murder on the outside! And Dre is a target...

Dre is involved with Angela, a lawyer, but she knows that Graylin needs someone totally familiar with the youth system. And we meet Jenny Ungerman, who accepts the case, but then is upset when Angela can't seem to keep herself from intruding and wanting to help... The interaction between them goes from tense exasperation into a partnership that really worked well... The author might want to think of pairing those two in a new series, in my opinion.

Poor Graylin, he was getting advice from all sides, but one thing had stuck with him. If you are tried as an adult, you have a jury which would probably give him a break...Maybe, maybe not. But Graylin did everything he could to ensure that's what happened...readers will have to decide whether this turned out to be the best for Graylin...

Do your children spend hours on their phone? Are you monitoring in any way? Given the level of sexual material displayed everywhere these days, you can bet that your child is involved not only with texting friends, but...sexting with some of them... More important than your knowing whether they are is this--are you aware that it is against the law??? In this story, a young boy gets sent a naked picture of a girl he knows. Instead of immediately closing out the picture, he saves it to his phone...He is now facing charges of holding and possible dissemination of child pornography...

I already knew this from other books I've read, but this story which could also be listed under urban fiction, perfectly illustrates how a kid can be caught in a nightmare that started out to this important book to see how a good kid can be caught, condemned and swiftly in court!

Children really do not understand the consequences of actions "that everybody is doing..." I highly recommend you read this and help them understand!


Attorney, author and anti-trafficking advocate Pamela Samuels Young has always abided by the philosophy that you create the change you want to see. While growing up in Compton, California, Pamela set giant-sized goals and used her talent, tenacity and positive outlook to accomplish them. She consequently achieved success in both the corporate arena and literary world simultaneously.
For fifteen years, Pamela served as Managing Counsel for Toyota in Southern California, specializing in labor and employment law. While still practicing law, Pamela began moonlighting as a mystery writer because of her desire to see women and people of color depicted in the legal thrillers she read. That required her to rise at 4 a.m. to write before work, after work and any other spare time she could find. Dubbed by one reviewer as “John Grisham with a sister’s twist,” Pamela is now a full-time author with eight award-winning mystery novels.
Her thriller Anybody’s Daughter (2013), a gripping tale of a teen unwittingly drawn into the world of child sex trafficking via a Facebook scam, won the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Fiction and was a Top Ten pick by In the Margins, the best books for at-risk teens. Her latest mystery, Abuse of Discretion (2017), tackles a troubling teen sexting case that gives readers a shocking look inside the juvenile justice system. Pamela’s other novels include Every Reasonable Doubt (2006), In Firm Pursuit (2007), Murder on the Down Low (2008), Buying Time (2009), Attorney-Client Privilege(2012), and Lawful Deception (2015). She has also penned an erotic romantic suspense novella, Unlawful Desires (2017), as well as multiple short stories.
Pamela is a proud natural hair enthusiast and the author of Kinky Coily: A Natural Hair Resource Guide, a book dedicated to empowering women to discover the true beauty of their kinky coils.
Before her legal career at Toyota, Pamela served as Employment Law Counsel for Raytheon Company and spent several years as an associate with the law firm of O’Melveny & Myers, LLP, in Los Angeles. A former journalist, Pamela began her broadcasting career at WXYZ-TV in Detroit and later worked as a news writer and associate producer at KCBS-TV in Los Angeles.
A graduate of UC Berkeley’s School of Law, Pamela has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from USC and a master’s degree in broadcasting from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. She formerly served on the Board of Directors of the Los Angeles chapter of Mystery Writers of America and is a diehard member of Sisters in Crime-L.A., an organization dedicated to the advancement of women mystery writers.
A frequent speaker on the topics of self-empowerment, sex trafficking and online safety, fiction writing, and pursuing your passion, Pamela lives in the Los Angeles area. To read an excerpt of her books or to schedule her for a speaking engagement or book club meeting via Skype, FaceTime, Zoom, speakerphone or in person, visit her website at

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