Wednesday, July 22, 2009

My Day in Court

I spent three hours of the day yesterday fighting a ticket. The ticket was for improperly stopping. The cost of this ticket was to be $177. For that kind of money, I decided to fight it.

My defense was that there were shrubs in the way so I had to pull up farther than normal in order to see clearly. I made a video of the intersection and measured the shrubs (36" where they should be 18"). I got an "appointment" for 2 PM on Tuesday to talk to the prosecutor. I wasn't told that this "appointment" was at the same time as at least 100 people. I arranged for a babysitter (no kids under 10 allowed). I got there at two and was put quite near the end of the paperwork queue. I guess everyone else knew we were really supposed to be there at 1 to get a good place in "line".

I took my seat and looked at an art book I am considering as the basis for our art lessons. I also spent the next 3 HOURS observing the people around me and the judge. The judge seemed to genuinely like her job and really seemed to care about people. She was firm and kind.

Two of the defendants were in Jr. High. One had been in so much trouble, the judge was already familiar with her. She had been assigned community service. It seemed that she was striving to do better and the judge seemed very proud of her progress. The other was a boy who was near a big fight at school. I got the impression that he had agreed to anger management classes so that his mom wouldn't have to take off another half day from work to come with him to trial. The judge said that it wouldn't show on his record that way.

Two men seemed to be very familiar people to the judge. One had two speeding tickets and the judge knew right away that he wanted a full trial. He smiled at her and said, "Nice to see you again, Judge," as though they had a long term relationship of tickets and trials. The other had been sentenced to working on his GED at the library and was giving his report on his progress.

A man that was probably the last person in line (having arrived at 2:05), started getting antsy at the long wait. I explained to him that they were going in the order of arrival so he would be near the end. He started talking on his cell phone. The bailiff told him he would have to take his call outside. The man ignored the bailiff. He was given one more chance. Then the judge called for an officer and had the man taken to jail for contempt of court.

Finally it was my turn. I took my husband's laptop in with my video defense. The prosecutor look at the first minute of the 2 minutes and started writing on a paper. He said, "I see you made an effort. Don't stop like that again." The bailiff took the paper and walked to the judge. I went back to her. She asked if I agreed to the deal that had been made. I said, "I have no idea what he wrote down." She told me that if I did not get a ticket for 90 days the charges would be dismissed. As I haven't been in a wreck or gotten a ticket in almost 7 years, I think I can handle it. I accepted the deal.

So that was my day in court.

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