16 September 2008

Team Small Dog Courtroom Drama-Episode 3

All right. I just bit the bullet, was my day off, and I decided What the Hell. In the order of things of which to procrastinate on, which is better? Christmas Shopping or Getting a Court Date or Repainting the House? Yeah. A no brainer. Court date way more the funner thing of those three. So Monday being day off, after a nice, illegal throw-tennis-ball-in-the-waves morning at the beach, threw sandy, tired dogs in the car drove to Court to stand in my line at the ticket window to see if they could decipher the words from the form I told you about in Episode 2. That one, Courtroom Drama Episode 2 so riveting all the comments were about Carnivale. Because really. I cannot compete with what is going to happen to Ben Hawkins when he finds Henry Scudder and we figure out the whole no legged Russian who talks like a woman connection and how Brother Justin ended up being the actual devil and tries to end the world which Sarah Palin just would write off as God's plan anyways so maybe Ben Hawkins could have just saved himself the trouble, because the whole inbred Granny camp thing was really a big headache for him.

So a very nice lady took all my paperwork and commented on how organized I was since I had taken the trouble to paperclip my now 3 documents together. Looked it over, and said, "So that's going to be $211 to pay the fine."

"I'm Not Guilty." Finally, got to tell someone in the court this! Even if just the lady in Tina Fey glasses at the ticket window.

I whipped out my notepad. Needed to get notes on what she was going to tell me next since the court paper was too hard to understand.

She said, "In that case, you have 2 choices." She got her pen out and drew me a little diagram. I love you Tina Fey glasses lady!

"You can either pay the bail right now, which is the same as the fine, and then schedule a court date after that. Or, you can stand before the judge in an arraignment hearing, tell her you're not guilty, and ask for a trial date."

She said the judge is a Her. Judge Judy? It won't be Judge Judy, right? I am HORRIFIED by Judge Judy. Not many people scare me, but Judge Judy does. I think Judge Judy lives in LA on a tv set. Not here.

Even with potential Judge Judy thoughts, I am like, "I need an arraignment." Because I am Not Guilty. And I don't want to pay all these courts and State Parks and all a penny. Not a dime.

"Uh, can the judge tell me I can't have a trial?" I am picturing Judge Judy yelling at me and saying just put your damn dogs on a leash like the sign says and throwing me out of court. Or having Bert escort me out and they snicker about me right there in front of my face.

"No. You have the Right to a Fair Trial." This is why I pay taxes. For like one second I am proud to be an American then I think about the mortgage industry and John McCain and I'm not quite as proud but, but I have a glimmer, right there at the ticket window thanks to Tina Fey glasses lady. I am going to listen to Bruce Springsteen on the way home in the car and sing along.

She got out a little chart of arraignment and court times and a highlighter. I LOVE you ticket lady! Here is the info we have been trying to get. Diagrams and highlighters! Next to me in the other ticket window line, a guy is asking for espanol. His ticket lady isn't speaking any espanol and I guess the espanol lady isn't in today. I get the feeling he isn't getting any highlighter diagrams and medals for paper clipping his papers together. You can only be proud to be an American if you speak good english here at Minor Violations and Traffic Court. They're still going over espanol and nobody espanol today. Goddamn, other ticket lady. Half our county only speaks espanol. Figure out a way to help the guy out like my ticket lady does.

So she goes over more stuff with me and goes over it again. I could ask to have my fee reduced if I wanted then, or just try and get my trial. If I did want to pay bail, I would get it back if I was found not guilty but it might take over a month. She has lots of interesting info for me about court stuff. I told her I appreciate all the info, because I am not used to being part of the legal system. First timer here.

"It's good you're writing it all down. A lot of people don't and they forget, and if you don't show up at the arraignment, it's a $300 fine. People do that all the time. Just try to stay organized." She grabs up all her diagrams and staples them onto my growing little packet. Which now is topped by a form called RELEASE ON OWN RECOGNIZANCE, NOTICE OF HEARING DATE. PEOPLE OR THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA VS. DEFENDANT LAURA HARTWICK.

"I'm trying to be a good citizen, especially since I'm Not Guilty." There. Said it again. Is like rehearsal. Even if the judge ends up deciding I actually broke a law, which actually I did, I stand behind the fact that I am doing nothing wrong out there, walking through a field with my dogs not on their leashes, as has historically been the prior usage there. Rehearsal.

"Anything else I need to know?" Poor guy with no english still over there at the other window. Like if I was having a hard enough time figuring this whole thing out and taking notes and needing a highlighted diagram, I think this guy in big trouble. A lot of people I think might be lawyers walk by, they all walk fast. Suits, ties, good haircuts, briefcases. Possible costuming ideas for my arraignment, note to self. I'm in sandy and wet jeans. Guy with no english, looks like a laborer. Next guy waiting for a turn, shorts and surf sweatshirt and flip flops. Very Santa Cruz, down here in the court basement.

She has no other important info. Wishes me well. Arraignment date is next Monday, Sept. 22, 1:30pm. Stay tuned for the next episode.


Anonymous said...

Here's my advice for court.
(i.e. the real court, the trial)

First thing, realize everyone says they're not guilty. Your whole goal is to not pay as much fine. You won't be able to change the laws in court.

1) There's the possibility that the officer will decide to not show up in court, and then you get a free pass, cause no testimony against you. You'll actually get to question the officer when he takes the stand. I would recommend asking nice questions that you know he'll answer in a way that shows your dogs were under control and meeting the intent of the law.

2) Your strategy should be that you and your dogs met the intent of the law, and you thought that was sufficient. You should mention that you have seen dogs attack people and dogs while on leash, so while they met the letter of the law, they didn't meet the intent.

3) Bring as much paperwork as you can showing that your dogs are trained. Courts like paperwork. Bring your USDAA cards, hell any titles etc. I got into a Grateful Dead concert once by showing a red cross card and claiming I was on the first aid team. It's the same idea. Give the court an excuse to cut you some slack.

4) Don't try to fix the California off-leash laws in your trial. You'll fail.

Wishing you the best,

Anonymous said...

Kevin has some good suggestions! Can I hire him if I ever get a summons for having 3 black and white dogs and a 5 pound Chihuahua in the park!?

I think you should just bring Gustavo with you and say "IS THIS THE FACE OF A DOG WHO SHOULD NOT BE ALLOWED TO RUN FREE IN CALIFORNIA?!?!?!" You would win. I thought CA was all about being free and happy and equal rights for all!

Thanks for the kick ass sketches. Judge Judy's is money!

Anonymous said...

Katie said: "Can I hire him if I ever get a summons for having 3 black and white dogs and a 5 pound Chihuahua in the park!?"

hmm in that case:..Your honor, my client is clearly insane.

Hey ..I think the recommmended "Gustavo defense" is similar to the "Chewbacca defense"?


But you have a good point.
Bring a photo of the 3 dogs sitting together. It's easy for people to assume you've got 3 pit bulls.

The more evidence the better.

Even bring in the leashes you had in your hand. Hold them up and show them with the photos.

Just don't yell
"does it make sense? No! Ladies and gentlemen of this supposed jury, it does not make sense! If Chewbacca lives on Endor, you must acquit!"

Anonymous said...

Insane DOG OWNER! You forgot dog owner... but aren't we all a little insane... ;) Especially those of us who get up at ungodly hours, drive forever... sometimes take a plane trip across the US just for a stinkin' agility trial!

Chewbacca Defense for sure.

My money is on Laura. She might be little but she's a go-for-it kinda chick!

team small dog said...

OK. Check. Do not yell about anything involving Star Wars. First thing to remember. Also, no yelling at all.

Yes, my whole goal is to just show how INSANE this stupid thing is. That is really the goal. I will also try to get community service to avoid paying the fine, so that is part 2. Like I can afford the fine. Sort of. Not really. But I'm employed. But I just don't WANT to because this is my neighborhood park where I've always walked the dogs blah blah blah.

These are great ideas and words such Met the Intent of the Law! I wil use these ideas and words and prepare a dog training packet dossier!!!!

Thanks Kevin! Katie, I will probably go with his advice as opposed to yours because bringing actual dogs in whose photos are posted on the outside of the courthouse saying NO PETS will surely peg me as crazy lady even if I am wearing a wool blend suit.