In our system of justice, we have District Court, which is for non-jury cases such as minor thefts, assaults, check forgery, speeding and nepotism. This is considered minor-league justice and is much less formal. In fact, it can be downright entertaining to hear defense attorneys plead for mercy for their clients with such gems as these:
- "Your honor, my client freely admits that he did drink a glass of beer six hours before leaving the party, and when the officer saw him weaving on the road home, it was because he had swerved to avoid hitting a mother duck and her six ducklings as they waddled along home."
- "Your honor, it is the position of my client that he could not have been speeding along Cromwell Bridge Road at that time because he is well aware that there is usually a speed trap set up there in the afternoons. Excuse me, your honor. I meant to say, a 'traffic enforcement zone'."
- "Your honor, my client had every intention of purchasing the purse, and all the merchandise she had placed in it. She had taken it out of the store to show it to her mother, who was waiting for her in the K-Mart parking lot. She wanted her mother to see the purse and the five blouses she had temporarily placed in there, so she wouldn't have to take a shopping cart out of the store, which she knows to be illegal. She simply left the store to check with her mother, and was aghast at being stopped by the security officer."
Circuit Court is major-league, involving felonies, juries, and long terms away from friends and family for many felons, except those who already have friends and family in the big house. That's where you'll see the TV news crews outside, all the camera people hanging around together and all the reporters checking their makeup, waiting for trials to end. Then, they rush to interview the attorneys, who re-try the case there on the courthouse steps.
But, what happens a lot, that I started to tell you about, is that people who are on trial for the first time in their life - in this jurisdiction, at least - will approach bagel-toting local employees and ask for directions to this court or that. So it was not unusual for a red pick-'em-up to roll up to me. The driver, a young man who had dressed for the occasion in a fine white undershirt, asked me where the circuit court was and where he should park. I pointed to the courthouse and told him he had a choice of three garages: one right here << and two over there>>.
Here's where it got interesting. His wife stuck her big blond head in front of his and told me, reproachfully, that "another guy said Circuit Court was down that way!"
I found myself having to defend my directions, and finally thought it best to keep it terse, so I simply replied, "So? He was wrong!"