Once You Left The Room, You Had ONE JOB

, , , , | Legal | November 29, 2020

I have a colleague who was selected for jury service. He reckons the case will be interesting, as it relates to quite a high-profile incident that was in all the local papers. On his first day of the trial, he is in court most of the day, coming into work in the late afternoon for a few hours. My other colleague is full of questions, but of course, he won’t answer them because he isn’t supposed to discuss the case. Throughout the week, he falls into the same routine: court in the morning and work in the afternoon. On Thursday, the penultimate day of the trial, he comes in.

Colleague: “The verdict will be tomorrow, and then I’ll be free to discuss everything and answer all your questions.”

On Friday, our colleague arrives at work a lot earlier than anticipated.

Colleague: “Well, that was unexpected!”

It turned out that on Thursday afternoon, before dismissing the court for the day, the judge had reminded the jury that Friday would be their big day, and that until then it would be PARTICULARLY important not to discuss the case with anyone — not colleagues, not friends, not even other jurors.

One of the other jurors had been shopping in town that evening, saw the defendant, and in spite of being told not to discuss the case, decided to discuss the case with him, in full view of everyone in the shop! Word got back to the judge, who, on Friday morning, went ballistic. He declared a mistrial, held both the defendant and juror in contempt, and explained that now there would have to be a new trial with a new jury.

My colleague couldn’t believe how stupid and careless the juror had been, and was gobsmacked by how much time and effort had now gone to waste, all because the defendant and juror decided to have a chat in a shop.

The defendant was tried again six months later. The juror who’d breached protocol had charges brought against him. My colleague never got to see the new trial as he was no longer eligible for jury service.

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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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No Judgements, But Your Spanish Sucks

, , , , , | Legal | December 17, 2019

A buddy of mine told me this story. He is at the courthouse to pay a parking ticket when a woman approaches him and asks him, in Spanish, if he would help translate for her. My friend only speaks rudimentary Spanish, but he figures it is just filling out the paperwork, so he says yes.

The woman leads him to a window and tells the clerk, “This is my translator.” The clerk directs them through a door. It turns out to be an office. The man in the office at the desk introduces himself as a judge.

At that point, my friend is very confused and quickly asks the judge what exactly is going on. Turns out, the woman is here to dispute a ticket and they don’t have a translator on the grounds. They called someone, but he won’t be in until that afternoon, and the woman doesn’t want to wait. So, she went out and found the nearest Spanish-speaker on her own.

My friend then tries to tell the judge about the misunderstanding and that his Spanish isn’t the best. The judge only looks at him and says, “Did you tell her you would help her?”

My friend says yes.

The judge replies, “Well, then, if you said you would help her, you’re going to help her.” My friend just sits there, astounded, while the judge launches into the questioning.

Luckily, there’s a happy ending. It turns out the woman was in the subway with her baby, and unbeknownst to her, the baby dropped a toy. A policeman nearby then wrote her up on a ticket for littering — yes, really! Of course, the judge thought it was stupid and dismissed the ticket, so it was all over in less than thirty minutes.

But my friend still can’t believe the judge insisted!

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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!”

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Get Out Or They Will Be An In-Jury

, , , , | Legal | December 24, 2018

(My mom gets called for jury duty every year. One year she is placed in a sexual harassment/title-nine trial. The woman in this case just so happens to be a patient of the doctor my mom works for. The judge in this trial is peeved from the start and warns that he will accept very few excuses for not serving. He declines to accept the excuse that someone is a small business owner and it’s nearing a shopping season, or that someone is a driver and doesn’t get reimbursed by his employer — basically, if he doesn’t drive he doesn’t make any money, and jury service payments are a joke. The judge gets to my mom, who states she has a reason for being unfit for this trial, but due to legal reasons cannot say in a crowded courtroom. The judge keeps pressing and my mom insists that due to HIPPA she can’t say anything more. The judge clears the court of everyone but the opposing parties and their attorneys.)

Judge: *as snide and sarcastic as all get out* “Well, now, [Mom], the court has been cleared. What is your excuse?”

Mom: “I work for [Doctor], and she is a patient.”

(The woman in question goes wide-eyed and whispers to her attorney. Both sides agree to dismiss my mom.)

Judge: *clearly pissed that he has to do this* “[Mom], you’re excused. But you have to return to the jury room to see if your service can be used elsewhere.”

(Fine. My mom went to the jury room, where the clerks were confused. It was already past lunch; most people were completely excused if they’d made it this far. They formally excused her from service for the year. My mom had a good laugh, not only because the judge was so rude, but because the woman was known for being a pain in the a** at my mom’s office.)

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