23 September 2008

Team Small Dog Courtroom Drama-Episode Four

All right. Didn't know on Arraignment Day, when I woke up, things were going to be a little more dramatic than I hoped for a courtroom drama. I am the namer of this event, and drama we say, is drama we get. Maybe not in such a good way. Day stared out with a crippled horse that maybe needs euthanization first thing. My old, beloved grandma horse Jane. Can't walk. Gotten nothing but worse over the last few days. Usually I spare you guys the professional drama in my life, but this is just sad. Not a good morning. This is saddest part of whole story. Weep now. Get it done with. Back to court.

So long story short yet still long, we give the poor sweet mare a few more days, and I jump in the car to make it back to Santa Cruz because you can't be late for court. Dogs are all exhausted and not irritating, ie, asleep in car crates, because they all had a hard run on the beach early in the morning. Even Black Beauty. Now a beach running chihuahua. Not Lighthouse Field State Beach, causer of my whole new hobby of Court. The other ranger-free, no ticket one. So you know how long usually takes to get back to town from the ranch, usually 40 minutes, maybe 45. How about when a big rig rolls over on the freeway and starts burning up and causes the freeway to get shut down? In that case maybe 3 hours. Uh. Arraignment at 1:30, leaving horse with vet at noon, and we are sitting in a parking lot.

So time to mobilize the Team Small Dog Courtroom Dream Team! First of all Gary on alert with all court paperwork and all important green organizer of my life, ready to meet me at court. And transfer dogs back to house so dogs don't have to sit in court parking lot in the sun. And Project Manager Bev finds the wreck on the internet and keeps me posted about the traffic jam. She keeps telling me to twitter my blackberry. Huh? I don't even have bluetooth here anymore. Just phone. Twitter the what? So I call the court with my old fashioned communicator named broken cel phone. And Court actually answers the phone for the very first time!

Hi Court! I am stuck in Traffic!

Can I tell you guys, I am not a late person? I am an EARLY person. NEVER, EVER, EVER LATE. This is just killing me. Try the bananarama of the yoga breathing. What can you do when Highway 1 shuts down?

Court says maybe they can put a note on the docket. Laura Hartwick is stuck in traffic. I'm not sure if Court, which sounds like a nice lady, is being facetious or for real. I am like, "It's not just regular traffic. It's stopped. Highway 1 is shut. Cerrado. Not moving. Parking lot."

Court says, "Which highway?"

"Uh, Oooonnne." It's our only highway in Santa Cruz. If you are at one end of Santa Cruz County, there's one way across. I live on one far end of the county, and work on the other. Highway One. When it shuts down, everything shuts down.

Court is like, "So, what do you want to do?"

I'm like, "Whatever is least disrespectful to court. You tell me." I am trying to be a good citizen here. And not in contempt of court. There's a min-pin sticking out of the big rig window next to me. The driver points to stuff and it barks. My dogs are sleeping in the back, not realizing the STRESSFULNESS of this situation. Min pin in the big rig over there, he realizes. Stressfull, Little Min Pin! Bark for me! Can I fiddle with ipod while I am illegally non bluetooth on celphone with court? Should I be listening to Bruce Springsteen here?

Court said it was a good thing I called and let them know, they'll try to put a note in there and put me in for a new arraignment time but I should try to come down there. I am sort of suspicious of this promise somehow, and keep rolling along. Stop. Go. Stop. Go. Stop. Stop. Stop. Go. Finally roll past a giant burned up husk of the big rig and the freeway all ripped up to shreds there and then it's off to court! It's about a quarter past 2 now. 45 minutes late. Like what would Judge Judy do to late people? Probably rip 'em a new one is what I'm thinking. And throw the book at 'em.

So meet Gary at court, get my paperwork he found for me, and switch cars so dogs can not have to sit at court and down I go to the basement courtroom. Didn't have time to plan an outfit, am still wearing really nasty old raggy pants and sneakers from running out of house early to get the dogs run and manage the horse situation. Not thinking, this would be a completely appropriate and fashion forward outfit to wear to court. Mostly thinking, these are pants and let me try to put them on really fast. Am wearing a shirt that has much visible tattoo showage. Is appropriate to show much tattoo at court? What a pickle I am in here.

Turns out it's ok, because everyone else having their arraignment today is seriously underdressed as well. Serious fashion crime in Court. There are a lot of us, and I sneak in there and everyone turns around to stare at me. Old people, young people. Skaters, homeless types, well dressed, crappy dressed, bunch of ethnicities, hawaiian shirts, tie dye, frumpy, impeccably pressed khakis, if you can imagine it, they were wearing it to court. Slip in next to a pregnant lady in sweats, hoping I haven't had my name called yet. Judge calls up some names ending in B, and I think we are alphabetical and I am a-ok.

Actual, genuine courtroom sketch from courtroom

What are some of the other underdressed citizens in there for? Failure to appropriately ride a skateboard. Sitting on a planter while chalk art was being drawn on the sidewalk that was not grafitti. A homeless guy for camping. Bike violation. Some kind of insurance fiasco and they towed the car. I am in here with some serious criminals. There's a huge bailiff over in the corner, HUGE I tell you, arms the size of massive wheels of cheddar cheese. Stubbly head from shaving it. His job is sit there and lean back in his chair and yawn sometimes. Some ladies are typing fast on the other side of the judge. There's a flag. Kind of like Judge Judy's set, but no wood paneling. Sheetrock and formica and a worn, '70's looking judge zone.

Pretty quick, it's my turn. Your Honor calls my name, off I go up to the bench. Judge Kim Baskett looks like a reasonable, nice lady. Like could be a mom of kids that ride with me. Good hair. Good glasses. That Sarah Palin lady in charge look but in a black robe. She explains stuff really, really well. Because some of the other people in line maybe didn't do their research and homework. Just saying, some of you other criminals. Might help. I get the feeling, after listening to arraignments for half an hour, that this judge has heard it all.

She says, "You are here for not having your dog on a leash at Lighthouse Field, according to the State. How do you plea?"

I am so happy I've rehearsed this. "I am Not Guilty, your honor." I look her in the eyes. I am thinking earnest and good citizen thoughts here.

"You are entitled to a court date. Do any of those times in November work for you?" She had just run through a bunch of court dates to a guy in really dirty, wrinkled clothes about illegal bike riding. He was having a hard time picking a good date. It took a while.

"I would like to come in on November 18, your honor." That was the soonest date she had offered. I think that still gives me plenty of time to work on my case. I got the ticket in July. I wrote it in my green organizer that runs my entire life.

She said, "Have you finished writing that down?" Just as I finished writing it down. She runs a tight court.

"Yes, your honor." She kind of talks to everyone in here like 4 year olds. Like is SUPER CLEAR. I am thinking maybe next she asks me to put my pen down when I'm done. Instead, she has me approach the bench and gives me a slip of paper with some more instructions, and thanks me for coming in. I thank her back. And that was it. Outta there. Arraignment took like 30 seconds.

So here you go, my friends. Tuesday, November 18, 1:30pm. Santa Cruz County Building, Traffic and Minor Violations courtroom in the basement. See you there? Lighthouse Field people, talking to you here. You wanna come? Represent? Tell your friends? See what happens when a dog lovin' visual generalist horse trainer defends herself because she used to watch LA Law and will try to channel Laurie Partridge? SURE to be a fiasco, right? See you in Court.


Anonymous said...

Wow that was really anti-climactic. I thought you'd get mean comments or something at least. Guess they're saving it for the trial? I hope you get jury people swayed easily by cute dog pictures.

Anonymous said...

Laura, is your moon not in the second house or something? Jupiter not aligning with Mars, or whatever? Luckily you have a good husband, although we would think even more highly of him if he were to let you keep Black Beauty. And the Hobbes-like rescue border collie that you will stumble across. It would be ok to have a (big) mascot for Team Small Dog.

team small dog said...

Oh my god, I'm having the dawning of the age of aquariusaphobia!