Get Some Blinds Before You Go Blind

, , , , , , , | Working | June 5, 2020

I am working as a court clerk in civil cases. Our courthouse is in the middle of the city and is several storeys high. Modern development has built up around the court, so that from levels four up, the back of the court overlooks and looks into a flashy five-star hotel.

One day, I am assisting in a settlement conference, and the judge and I are sitting at opposite ends of a long table, with the parties down either side. The judge is sitting in front of the window with his back to it, and I can see clearly everything going on behind him.

The judge recalls to me later that suddenly my face changes and contorts, and I busy myself in a piece of paper, looking horrified. 

He decides we should have a break and when the lawyers have cleared, he asks what happened. I raise a shaky hand to the hotel across the way, which does not have frosted or tinted windows, and the very large, naked man doing Zumba. In front of the windows. 

The judge laughs so hard he extends the break for an extra fifteen minutes so he can calm down, and he teases me about it for the rest of the week.

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Guilty Of Not Doing The Reading

, , , , | Legal | April 30, 2020

My mother is a prosecutor working for the UK Crime & Prosecution service. On this particular occasion, the person on trial is a “Freeman-On-The-Land,” a person who claims that no English law save “common law” is valid. These people often produce documents which they claim trump statute law.

This particular defendant is pleading “not guilty” on the basis of his own law code. He’s presenting evidence that follows the strange rules of the FOTL. Unfortunately for him, my mother does her research.

Lawyer: “The defendant would like to present a signed affidavit.”

The lawyer hands it to my mother, who gives it a look.

Mum: “Sorry, I can’t accept this.”

Defendant: “Why not?!”

Mum: “Well, that’s not robins-egg blue paper, is it? And this signature is definitely not your own blood. It’s not valid.”

There is a pause. The defendant and the lawyer have a quick chat.

Lawyer: “My client would like to change his plea to guilty. He knows when he’s beat!”

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I Sentence You To A Year Of Awkwardness

, , , , , | Legal | April 3, 2020

At the start of my final year of high school, the school makes us all undertake a week of work experience. As I want to study law at university, I go to a local criminal solicitors’ firm. On my last day, one of the solicitors suggests I might be interested in going to a sentencing with him. On the way to the court, he tells me the client’s name and that they’re being sentenced for mugging someone. He parks the car, and we get out and start to head up the steps outside the court.

Solicitor: “Ah, that’s the family on the steps. Come on, we’d better go say hello. It’s polite and, you know, we’ll have to lend a bit of emotional support. I’ll also check they’re okay with you shadowing.”

Me: “Got it.”

I obediently follow him to a huddled group. As we approach, they fan out and say hello. I glance at them and then frown because one woman seems weirdly familiar. The woman is staring at me, as well.

Solicitor: “Hi, all. I just thought I’d come over and–”

Woman: “Don’t you go to my school?”

Everyone pauses and looks at me.

Me: *Very meekly* “Hi, Mrs. [Woman].”

It turned out that the client was the nephew of a teacher at my school. I hadn’t had any classes with her, so the surname hadn’t really rung a bell. Her family was incredibly lovely about me being there, saying it was at least nice that one of the teacher’s students could get some good out of it, but the teacher didn’t come into the courtroom — I think because I was there. For the remainder of the year, whenever we passed each other in the corridor, we couldn’t quite look each other in the eye.

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Does This Mean Google Maps Provides Legal Advice?

, , , , , | Working | March 18, 2020

(Many years ago, before cell phones and even before personal computers are common, I receive a court summons. I’m not familiar with the location of the courthouse, in a town over an hour away from where I am residing, and I can’t find a map that lists it — neither the mailed summons or phone book I find in the local library have a street address, just something like “Courthouse Square” — I call a week or so before the hearing date to get directions. My bad; the very short conversation goes something like this:)

Receptionist: “Thank you for calling [County] court; how may I direct your call?

Me: “I’ve received a summons to appear at a hearing on [date] and I’m unfamiliar with where the courthouse is located. I’ll be entering town on the main highway from the west; could you provide directions or connect me with someone who can?”

Receptionist: “I’m sorry, I’m not allowed to provide legal advice.”

Me: “I just need directions from the highway to the courthouse. I’m not asking for legal advice at all!”

Receptionist: “I’m sorry, no one is here who can provide you with that information. As I stated, I’m not allowed to answer legal questions. You’ll need to contact your attorney. Have a great day!” *disconnects the call*

(I didn’t have an attorney as I’d been called to be a witness and was not a party to the suit, but I did eventually find the courthouse, just a block off the highway, no thanks to her. Although, upon arrival, I discovered that the civil matter I’d been summoned for had been resolved out of court days prior, my presence wasn’t required after all, and no one had bothered to let me, or at least two other witnesses, know.)

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Unfiltered Story #189075

, , | Unfiltered | March 12, 2020

I work in a County Courthouse. Much of my day is printing old record documentation for customers. A woman comes in wanting copies of her husband’s arrest records. Despite looking under every conceivable spelling and combination of his name, I cannot locate any records from our county.

Me: Ma’am. I am not finding any records for your husband. When did the arrest take place? (I was thinking perhaps it was an absurdly old case that may require searching the microfiche)

Her: Oh, it was from 2007.

Me: Records from 2007 should be on the computer. I’m not finding anything. Does your husband have a hyphenated name by chance?

Her: No. I don’t understand why you can’t find him. I have copies right here, I just need court certified ones.

Me thinking to myself, it would have been way easier to give me that to start with since there would be a case number on those documents…She hands over the documents. I look at them and just what to slam my head against the desk.

ME: Ma’am these records are from Maryland. You would need to contact the county he was arrested in to find out how much they charge for certified copies and where to send the request, payment, and self addressed stamped envelope for them to process the request.

Her: You mean you can’t do it? I have the documents right here. I just need them certified.

Me: Ma’am, that’s not how this works. I can only provide you with certified copies of records from this county. I can only certify documents that I have personally looked up, printed, and verified as accurate.

Her: But I just need you to certify them!

This went round and round for awhile. I don’t think she ever got it. Eventually she stormed out, still muttering that she just needed them certified. Sadly this happens very frequently.