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Linda M. Price, Ph.D.
Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist
5020 Campus Drive
Newport Beach, California
February 16, 2012
moral or ethical quality: a man of fine, honorable character.
qualities of honesty, courage, or the like; integrity: It takes character to face up to a bully.
reputation: a stain on one's character.
TO THE HONORABLE JUDGE _____________________:
I am writing this character letter on behalf of Sean McDevitt who has been charged with a DUI and injury to another person.
I am Sean’s mother-in-law, and I am also a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist with a private practice in Orange County, CA. I will be writing this letter both as a family member and from a professional viewpoint.
I have known Sean for ____ years. As a family member, I have been impressed with Sean’s character. Here are a few examples of how he has shown _____________ and accepted responsibility and upheld commitments:
- From a large family of nine brothers and sisters, he was the one who took it upon himself to be the caretaker for his dying father. He bathed, fed and cared for him for __ years prior to his father’s passing, and he did it with an abundance of humility and love. He did not once state he was upset or felt “taken advantage of” because others in the family did not take up this responsibility. He knew he had to do this, and he did it without need of recognition of his work.
- He married my daughter who had 3 teenage children. He took on the responsibility of step-father without hesitation, and has continued to support these children both financially, emotionally and with tremendous care and love. He did not flinch from his responsibilities as a new step-father. Sean did not have any children at the time. Because of his care for my daughther and my grandchildren, their lives have greatly benefited.
- He and my daughter with 2 of the children decided to move out to California. While he was told a week before moving here (after flying out from Pennsylvania for the interview) that he would have a job waiting for him, when he got here, the job was not available. He did not flinch. He courageously began looking for another job immediately. He had made another commitment – to move his family here for the potential of a better life – and he was going to keep his commitment.
- After __ months, he finally was hired. He worked whenever the company wanted him too, and more often than not, was putting in 12-15 hours a day without complaining. At this time, Sean, my daughter and the two children were living in a motel room in Hemet. My daughter became pregnant at this time as well. With a new baby on the way, Sean knew his family needed a home – roots for his new family. By withdrawing all his money from his 401K from his previous job in Pennsylvania and by saving from the new job, he was able to move his family into a new home in ___ months. He knew his responsibility to his family and he never gave up. He could have easily taken the family back to Pennsylvania, where his brother had a job waiting for him and he had plenty of opportunities, but he did not. Rather, he was fulfilling his promise, his responsibility to his family.
- As things started to improve, he was suddenly transferred from his job in Hemet to another job in ______, California. It meant he would be traveling 4+ hours to and from work, working a 12 hour day, and then returning for a couple of hours sleep. Again, Sean accepted this as what was needed for the benefit of the family, and he did this without any complaints.
- Upon the arrival of Sean’s daughter who is now 22 months old, Sean became even more aware of the responsibilities of his family. It was a difficult pregnancy, and he was worried about my daughter. He helped out in whatever way was needed and never wavered from his ever growing responsibilities.
- I have witnessed Sean show great compassion for his family and others and assertively stand up when he needed to protect or defend his family. I have seen him voluntarily help others and expect nothing in return. Sean has a moral sense of justice that is exceptional. He accepts responsibility for his actions and does not use defenses or excuses when he has done something wrong.
- When Sean learned that he had hurt someone while driving intoxicated, he was weak and sickened with grieving. He could not eat or sleep and his remorse was deep. There was no defending his actions and no excusing – again, he morally knew that what he had done was horrible and he felt it. He prayed that the person he injured would be okay. He quit drinking that day, and has not drunk again. He is committing his life to sobriety.
- Since the DUI, Sean was also injured at work and was put on disability. Rather than feeling defeated, he looked for ways to help the family. His biggest responsibility has been to be a stay-at-home Dad for his daughter. While my daughter works, he takes care of the daily responsibilities needed for their active 22 month old daughter. She adores him and he adores her. He is an accomplished gardener and she follows him out daily to tend to the garden, learning valuable lessons from a Dad who genuinely loves and cares about how he impacts others.
From a professional point of view, I would like to add the following:
- Sean has a drinking problem. He cannot ever drink again. His drinking has caused harm to others, to his family and to himself.
- Sean’s reliability that he will not do this again can be judged by what he is now doing to correct this damage. He is not drinking, he is going to AA, he is surrounding himself with support that will help ensure that he will continue an alcohol-free life.
- A person’s moral compass is strengthened not so much by what that person is doing “right” but the mistakes that he makes and what he does to correct those mistakes. Sean is ready to take full responsibility for his mistakes.
- Sean has come to terms with the phrase “I’m an alcoholic” and exactly what that means in terms of his maintaining sobriety and how drinking has adversely impacted his life.
- There is an accountability that must be made for any crime, and Sean’s punishment is to be determined by this Court. I understand that there is a prison sentence looming against Sean. I would ask that confined imprisonment not be included in Sean’s punishment for the following reasons:
- He did and continues to show remorse for his actions.
- He has genuinely accepted responsibility for his actions by immediately taking steps to become sober.
- He has developed a strong support system for his sobriety in his neighborhood through his AA meetings.
- He has never blamed anyone but himself for where he is in his life right now which shows his moral and ethical attitude toward the wrong he has committed.
- He has full responsibility as a stay-at-home Dad for his 22-month old daughter.
- His 22 month old daughter will be emotionally affected by the loss of his presence in her daily life.
Sean made a terrible mistake, but I do not believe he is a continued risk to society. His actions were those of an active alcoholic, and I believe today Sean is not that man who drove while intoxicated and hurt someone. His friends, family, AA meetings and his continued commitment to his responsibility to his family to remain sober all are significant indictors that he will not do this again.
Punishment must be given, but I would beg for mercy of this court that he be given home arrest or some other punishment that would not cause him to be taken completely away from his family, and especially his daughter.
There are no words of sorry deep enough for the injured person. Sean knows that to the core of his being and has demonstrated his deep regret for his actions by becoming sober immediately after the accident and remaining sober to this day.
Thank you for taking the time to read my statement. I would be available to answer any questions of the court by phone at XXX-XXX-XXXX.
Thank you for consideration.
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