A One-Way Ticket To Stupidity

, , , , | Legal | November 13, 2018

(I am waiting for a friend to fight his parking ticket. I am sitting in the back of a very busy traffic courtroom.)

Bailiff: “NEXT!”

(A guy goes up and hands a ticket over to the bailiff, who announces his name and citation number to the court reporter.)

Judge: “Well, Mr. [Guy], what’s the story here?”

Guy: “I was parking on the South Side in a municipal lot. It was really busy and I was in line for the meter.”

(In this city, there is one “meter” per lot. You enter your plate number and a receipt prints out.)

Guy: “While I was in line, the meter maid gave me a ticket.”

Judge: “This ticket says it was on [date], is that correct?”

Guy: “Yes.”

Judge: *sighs LOUDLY, places his head in his hands, and makes an announcement* “If there is anyone in this courtroom with a ticket from the South Side on [date], please stand up.”

(About fifteen people stand up.)

Judge: “How many of you were in line to pay when you got the ticket?”

(Everyone raises their hands.)

Judge: “Son of a— Bailiff, can you collect up all those tickets, please?”

(There’s a bit of a wait while everyone pulls out their tickets. The bailiff hands them to the traffic court judge and he reads each one. Finally he announces that he doesn’t have time to hear each case. He’s dismissing every ticket; they can all leave. Finally, my friend gets called.)

Judge: “What’s your story?”

Friend: “Well, I was on the North Side on [date two weeks after the last group]. I parked, walked across the lot towards the meter and the meter maid pulled in. She immediately ticketed me. If you look at the time on the ticket and the time on the receipt, she wrote the ticket at exactly the same time as the receipt printed. I was the only one in the lot. She had to know the car in the lot belonged to the guy currently at the meter.”

Judge: *looks at ticket* “This ticket was written by [Meter Maid].”

Friend: “Yes, sir.”

Judge: “Well, today is your lucky day. That story sounds so stupid I wouldn’t normally believe it. But, given what I just witnessed, I’m dismissing yours, as well.”

Friend: “I don’t suppose there’s a way to prevent this from happening again?”

Judge: “I’m going to suggest she get retrained or replaced. I can’t make any promises.”

(Based on a story in the local paper a month later, she was still doing it.)

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This Is All Public Record

, , , , , , | Legal | November 3, 2018

Years ago, my wife and I were the target of a civil suit. When we arrived at the court for the first hearing, the lights in the courtroom were out and not a soul was in sight. We checked the date and location on our paperwork. We were in the right place at the right time. After some hunting we found the judge’s office and were ushered into his private chambers. Had we not done so, it would have been a judgment against us. The other lawyers were there and smirking, but apparently put out that we found the location of hearing. At the time it didn’t go well, but the plaintiffs made some nasty goofs and the whole issue was dropped. I would have forgotten about the whole issue but I mentioned the judge to a friend of mine I’ll call Waldo.

Waldo was a nut. I say this in a kind way. He was one of the infamous “advisers” in the early days of the Vietnam War. Later in life he became a major advocate for rights and freedoms. To say that he liked to stick it to “the man” was an understatement. One time he went as far as pulling over a cop to warn him of a taillight out. Another time he had the sheriff’s office raid a bank for failure to respect a warrant.

But when I told him about the judge, he said he knew exactly who that was. He was in the same office I was in and complained that the hearing wasn’t public. The judge smugly declared that the office was public. After the hearing, Waldo left and was halfway out of the building when he got a crazy idea. He headed back to the judge’s office, waltzed past his secretary, and barged right into the chambers where the next “public hearing” was taking place. The judge naturally blew his top and asked Waldo what he was doing, barging in like that. Waldo calmly answered that the judge himself had said that this was public. Infuriated, the judge had to tolerate his presence.

Thankfully, laws of Karma caught up with the judge and he was ousted for that nonsense, and a few other bits of malfeasance.

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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.)

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Fine, But Not Fine

, , , , | Legal | September 13, 2018

I had a car that I was selling, and no longer had it insured. When my regular car had some issues, I took the for-sale car to pick up my then boyfriend for lunch, not thinking about the lack of insurance. While in the parking lot, a teen in a large truck hit the side of my car. The teen was charged with reckless driving and a few other things, but the policeman had to give me a ticket, as well, for not having insurance. He apologized and said he’d rather give me a warning, but they were required to write the ticket, and I was required to make a court appearance and not just mail in the fine.

Fast forward to the court date. The girl ahead of me was there for driving without insurance, as well. She got up and told her story, which involved driving while high, and crashing her car into someone’s fence and a tree. She then left the scene and didn’t go back until the police called her, because she was still too high to remember where she left the car. She also stated that she shouldn’t get in trouble for it since she was too out of it to really be in control; therefore, it wasn’t her fault. The judge handed down a fine for driving without insurance, completely ignoring the rest. Then, it came my turn; I apologized, explained the accident, and so forth. Without blinking, the judge handed me the exact same fine as he did to the girl that came before me. In fact, he handed down the exact same fine to everyone there, regardless of the situation.

So glad that we all had to spend a day in court to get handed that fine, at the hands of that judge who took time to listen to everyone, instead of just mailing in a set fine. (Sarcasm here.)

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Lawless In-Law

, , , , , , , | Legal | September 11, 2018

(A few years ago my brother had a child with a woman from a terrible family. Racist grandmother, drug-addicted mother, brother, sister, and brother-in-law, and a stepfather who claimed to once be a “Hell’s Angel.” Predictably, things went south in the relationship and custody of my niece was in contention in court. Months of court dates had left emotions frayed and everyone on edge. While shopping at a local hardware store I have the unfortunate luck to run into the meth-addict brother-in-law of the family. We happen to end up in the same aisle and he calls out loudly.)

Brother-In-Law: “HEY!”

(I look up and see him with his five-year-old son, say a quick, “nope,” and turn around to walk away. The meth-head brother-in-law starts following me down the aisles of the hardware store. Never one to blink at an opportunity, I pull out my phone and start filming him over my shoulder.)

Brother-In-Law: “HEY, YOU F****** B****! YOU AND YOUR WHOLE F****** FAMILY ARE GOING DOWN! YOU BETTER HOPE I DON’T CATCH ANY OF YOU F****** A**HOLES OR I’LL F*** YOU ALL UP!”

(This is while his seemingly forgotten son chases to keep up with him. Thankfully there is no physical altercation, but the video is worth its weight in gold. Fast forward through police reports and applying for a restraining order, to the court date. Our case is the last on the docket, so I endure a few hours of meth-head brother-in-law giving his missing-tooth smile, thinking he’s going to get off scot-free. Finally our case is called, and I am asked to present my side of the story. After I explain that I did nothing but turn and walk away while being verbally harassed, the judge then asks for the meth-head brother-in-law’s side.)

Brother-In-Law: “Your Honor, he and his dad chased me down the aisles! And when I held my hand out to shake hands and say hi, he ‘spitted’ on me and yelled at me! I had my son with me, and they yelled at him, too! I would never act that way around my son! Never!”

(No, my dad was not with me that day; I was alone. And yes, he said “spitted.”)

Judge: *to me* “Do you have anything to say to refute Mr. [Brother-In-Law]’s story?”

Me: “Yes, Your Honor; I have video of the incident.”

(I now get to look over at my meth-head brother-in-law with my own smile and see his grin slip off his face. I hand my phone over to the judge and she watches while glancing up at the two of us.)

Judge: “Well, Mr. [Brother-In-Law], not only can I see you and your son in this video, I can see him struggling to keep up with you. I can also hear the threats you’re making to Mr. [My Name] and his family. I am awarding Mr. [My Name] his restraining order and would advise that the next time you end up in court, try not to lie to the judge.”

(Cue an expletive-laden rant from my brother-in-law and the judge suggesting an escort for me to my car.)

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