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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Not Even Offering Them A Deal(ership)

, , , , , , , | Legal | August 29, 2018

While driving my parents’ car on a long trip at night, the engine just stops and all the warning lights come on. I’m able to get the car off the road and open the hood. There is a massive amount of smoke and steam coming from the engine and after checking, I find that there is no coolant at all in the reservoir. I get to wait by the car while arrangements are made to pick both the car and me up.

The next day after examining the car, it is determined that a coolant hose came off while I was driving, and that caused the engine to overheat and seize. Over the next few days, my father acquires a new engine and swaps out the old engine with the new one. We then find out that my brother had taken the car in for some repairs a few days before my trip to dealership, and it was one of the hoses they worked on that came off.

My father is in contact with the dealership, but they say they are not at all at fault and refuse any kind of compensation. So, my father decides to take them to small claims court.

After a few months, we are all at the courthouse. The judge comes in and the case is read to her. As soon as the dealership’s name is mentioned, the judge asks for the lawyers — both ours and the dealership’s — to come forward and have a private discussion. This seems very odd, but all we can do is wait for our lawyer to come back and tell us what’s going on.

After a few minutes, our lawyer comes back with a smile on her face. Apparently, the judge is also having “issues” with the dealership, so she has to remove herself due to a conflict of interest. We can’t believe it.

Once the judge has officially removed herself from the case, the dealership settles for everything we wanted.

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