Dismissed As Quickly As Enraged

, , , , | | Legal | August 9, 2019

(I have gotten a ticket for supposedly not coming to a full stop before making a turn. Instead of paying the fine, I decide to go to traffic court to see if I can get it reduced by explaining what happened. While sitting in the gallery waiting for the judge to handle other cases, I can see that he is pretty strict and I start wondering if I’ve made a wise choice by going to court. I really become concerned when the next person, a young man around my age, is called by the court clerk and his charge is read.)

Judge: “You stupid little [expletive]! Didn’t I tell you what would happen if you appeared in my courtroom again?”  

(The judge carries on like this for a few more minutes while the young man stands there looking miserable. I can see that the judge is getting madder and madder. The young man apparently has a poor driving record and has been in this same courtroom several times before. Finally, the judge tells him that his license is suspended and to get the h*** out of his courtroom. While this is going on, I keep thinking, “Please, don’t let me be the next one called!” And, of course, I am the next one called. The clerk then reads the charge.)

Judge: “How do you plead?”

Me: “Technically guilty, I guess, Your Honor.”

Judge: “Hmm, how long have you been driving?”

Me: “About eight years.”

Judge: “Have you had any other tickets?”

Me: “No, Your Honor.”

Judge: “Well, that’s a very fine record, young man. Dismissed!”

A Candy Crush Saga

, , , , | Legal Right | November 18, 2018

(Our window displays out in front of the window feature jewelry mixed in with fake candy. My coworker is in the back helping a customer design a new setting for some heirloom stones. I am in the front. A woman enters, her cell phone held in front of her, obviously filming me, a smirk on her face.)

Woman: “I would like to buy some candy.”

Me: “Uh, candy?”

Woman: “You show candy in your window. I want to buy some.”

Me: “I’m afraid that’s not for sale. In fact, it’s plastic; it’s just display.”

Woman: *getting louder* “So you WON’T sell me candy?”

Me: “I don’t have candy to sell.”

Woman: *triumphantly lowers her phone* “Ha! You know I can bring a lawsuit against you for false advertising! I’m going to sue this store for all its worth!”

(At this point, the customer emerges from the back room, smiling.)

Customer: “Ma’am, I truly hope you do try to sue this place. I’m Judge [Name], and I occasionally need a laugh from the bench. And that’s what I would do, laugh you out of the courtroom.”

(The woman turned red and sputtered out that she didn’t think he was a real judge. When he pulled out his card, she slunk out of the door. The judge laughed and shared with us a few stories of crazy lawsuits he had seen, while my coworker finished designing the new piece. The store owner has promised to donate to his re-election campaign.)

This Justice Jumps To Judge Jurors

, , , , | Legal | October 17, 2018

(I recently got called for jury duty. I’m not exactly “dreading” it like some, but I’m also hoping I don’t end up getting called to a big spectacle trial. As the morning wears on, some of us that don’t have a laptop or something with us start talking, and I get along well with a couple. Eventually, I’m called up with one of the batches, including one of the guys I was talking with. When we hear the judge’s name, the man groans.)

Man: “Oh, God, not him!”

Me: “What’s wrong?”

Man: “He was the judge the last two times I’ve been called. He almost never lets jurors go until the lawyers start cutting.”

Me: “He can’t be that bad.”

Man: “Last time, he literally tried to talk someone into changing a scheduled surgery.”

Other Man: “Yeah, I’ve sat in on cases; this guy’s brutal. He basically has compassion for everyone in the courtroom but the jury, as if we’re all volunteering and have no room to complain.”

(The thoughts of all my potential excuses go right down the drain. I shuffle in with the rest and end up third in the box. The case is read out: in short, this man is on trial for ongoing child and spousal abuse, as well as for physically assaulting his son and son’s boyfriend when he found out they were gay. The first juror is asked to stand up, accepts what’s going on, and is signed in. The next one stands, and when asked if he could serve faithfully, he tries to get out because his car just died and he can’t guarantee it will be fixed before the trial starts, so he doesn’t have reliable transportation; the judge literally says, “Figure it out.” Then, he gets to me.)

Judge: *reading off my identification* “Can you faithfully prosecute the duty of a juror, without prejudice or concern?”

Me: “Honestly, I don’t think I can, Your Honor.”

Judge: *accusingly* “And why not?!”

Me: “I’m married to another man. My father refused to come to our wedding, and I’ve only talked with him twice in the last decade because of that.”

(This stern judge gave me a look for about ten seconds, double-checked my sheet, and excused me.)

Jail For Life

, , , | | Legal | June 15, 2018

(Years ago, a young friend gets her first moving violation. She is nervous so I agree to go with her for moral support. It is my first time live court-watching in years, so I look forward to it. Most of the cases that day are all young drivers. One case is a young guy, maybe 18. He is dressed casually, but clearly isn’t poor. His answers to the judge seem like he is avoiding answering and is trying to go off-topic. I think to myself, “This young man is an idiot.” No sooner do those words go through my head than I hear the judge say, “Young man, you are an idiot!” Go, Judge! He throws the book at the idiot. My friend, also roughly the same age, is a good kid, behaves properly with the judge, and leaves the court with just a fine. After the cases are cleared, I am still there. I go up to the bench.)

Me: “Judge, I have to say that I’ve done some court watching over the years; some are good, some are bad, but I must say you did a good job handling those kids today.”

Judge: “Thank you very much.”

(We talk for a little while about this and past cases.)

Me: “Is there ever anything you regret dealing with here?”

(The judge looks at me for a moment, but it isn’t to collect his thoughts. He actually has an answer ready for me.)

Judge: “Yes. There was one girl, just 16. She had already been my courtroom several times for speeding, reckless driving, and so on. Each time she said she had learned her lesson, but I had to escalate fines and give her community service, and I finally had to threaten her with jail time. When she did it again I was ready to put her in jail. She pleaded with me not to and since there had been no injury, I gave in. I gave her another fine and community service. She thanked me, and then left, and on her way home decided it was a good idea to race a train to the crossing. If I had given her the jail time, she’d be alive today.”

(Heartbreaking. And this is just one reason I didn’t want to pursue a career in law.)