Saturday, October 22, 2011

Ordering The Court part 2

I'm sure this happens to everyone who lives and works in the county seat wherever you live.  I was there the other day for a trial and it happened again; a guy and his wife asked for directions to the Circuit Court building.

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."
This all reminds of the old Cheech and Chong bit in which the attorney whines, "Your honor, my client had FOUND those drugs, and was on his way to the police station to turn them in when he was apprehended."

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.

Not Melanie.
Speaking of the courthouse steps, it was twenty years ago last month that a local radio station convinced the powers that used to be to let them have a free lunchtime concert featuring "Alice Cooper."  Believing that Alice Cooper was a flaxen-haired woman in a chambray shirt and jeans, strumming a guitar and singing songs of people working on the railroad all the live-long day, the town fathers said go ahead with the concert.  They were stunned to see the crowd that showed up for the show, and even more put out when Alice himself took the stage to sing the mountain folk ballads that had made him so popular on the hootenanny circuit, songs such as "Under My Wheels," "Halo of Flies" and "No More Mr Nice Guy."  The band rolled in about 8 speakers, each the size of a small school bus, and the buildings were still shaking, days after the last sweet note of the encore medley of "Elected" and "School's Out" had faded into memory and oblivion. 

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!"

Trust me!

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