22 October 2008

Courtroom Drama Episode 6-A Visit to Court.

Now, my court date isn't until November 18. But was thinking, maybe paying a nice visit to court not a bad idea. Maybe go see Judge Kim in action. Visit the bailiff again. See what court looks like when it's not an arraignment. Take off some work for some official research. We have less than a month. Time to get cracking on my case. Takes time to learn the attorney ways. And today, the ways of the court.

Figured it's ok for anyone to go visit, right? Snuck in before the judge arrived. And who do I see but Dog Trainer Lori there, with her service dog in the back row. She is there for a minor traffic infraction. Her very well trained dog on a down stay at her feet. She's a pet dog trainer in town that I know, and she has been a student in beginning agility class! She's in the back row, I slip in by her and sit behind the row of COPS. A whole row of 10 cops of all shapes and sizes and uniforms and guns, including one State Parks Ranger! Hello research day!

Actual Courtroom sketch. No time to draw his bench. Had lots of notes to take guys!

We are whispering about our legal matters before the judge comes. Bailiff, a scowling lady with long bangs today, glares. Dog Trainer Lori suggest I get an emergency Canine Good Citizen title on my dogs before my court date, and she is just the dog trainer to do it! Score! Thanks Dog Trainer Lori! Bailiff glares. Shit. But as I will see in court, evidence helps and the more papers that I have showing what Good Dogs I have, can't hurt. I think. Somewhere I have evidence of USDAA and CPE titles and Official Pet Assisted Therapy Dog, but actually, as a person who does not keep ribbons or junky junk like that, I may have put these in the recycling bin. Sorry USDAA and CPE. I confess. Did not frame and put on the wall by their giant oil painted portrait murals. I may pay the price in court.

So anyways. The Judge is a little more Judge Judy here than she was on arraignment day. She announces the rules of court, and reminds us that she is Not Inviting a Dialog. You just talk when it's your turn. Another important thing to take note of, we will learn.

Everyone gets sworn in by the scowling woman next to the judge. She's the one who gives you a paper about your fine. She has on a wrinkled summer blouse. No official court outfit for her. Judge has a robe, Bailiff a cop outfit, wrinkled blouse for her. I get sworn in too. I was the only one that didn't stand up when she told us all rise to get sworn in and I got a scowl, so up I go and stand and raise my right hand and swear to tell the truth. I'm just the reporter today. You guys, I ALWAYS tell the truth. Usually. Definitely when sworn in. Was pretty undramatic and involves no bibles. That must have gone out of style during civil rights.

So after some business with cops not showing up and defendants not showing up, it's Dog Trainer Lori's turn. To protect her identity and privacy, let's say her minor infraction was just something we have all done in the car. Mi-Nor. But she was the one that got popped and here she is and she has a table full of evidence that maybe doesn't make her not guilty, but does make her look like a good citizen. Big Time. Talks about a canine emergency she was handling at time of her infraction. Her pro bono work with County Animal Services. The judge's interest is piqued. She has spread a load of evidence over the table and speaks clearly and concisely and by the end, judge has said, OK, you may be guilty but no fine for you. It is suspended. Suspended being a good thing here. Not like that time in high school. And off she goes. I'll talk to you soon, Dog Trainer Lori!

She did look just like this. But meaner.

Next case involves a hitchhiker who might be a Crazy Guy vs. Cop. Hitchhiker has random photos of stuff he keeps labeling Exhibit A, B, C and so on. Cop is confused. Bailiff confused, and snorts her disapproval. She is snorty. Judge confused. Crazy Guy is confused. Long story short, Crazy Guy vs. Cop, guess who wins? Good luck next time, Crazy Guy.

Next case, Well Groomed Guy in tie vs. Cop. An unsafe lane change. Well Groomed Guy's word vs. Cop's. Guess who wins? Better luck next time, but nice job with your hygiene!

Next case, guy in tie and Dockers vs. Cop. Speeding case, near the University. NOTORIOUS spot for radar cops. But this guy has driven all the way down from Roseville for court, was in our fair city for his daughter's soccer tournament and this cop has dragged his name through the mud by ticketing him and boy is he MAD. Thinks the cop is lying. So far, we have learned that Judge Kim tends to side with Cops. Now we are learning she does not like mad people and by God, she HAS JUST TURNED INTO JUDGE JUDY! Am freaking out here. Note to self. Do not get mad and DO NOT INTERRUPT JUDGE KIM! He lost right then and there. Better luck next time, and be sure to visit the Boardwalk and toss some tax revenue into our city coffers on your way out, our friend in Dockers.

Proof is important in court. Here's proof of my reporter's notebook.

Next case, Older Lady in a Navy Blue Cardigan vs. Cop. She stands up there, hands nervously twitching behind her back. Her cardigan from Lands End or other such mail order place. She is scared. She got a rolling stop sign ticket right by her house, where she has lived for 32 years, by this super tall young whippersnapper motorcycle cop. She is almost crying because she is a safe driver and he said she wasn't. She would never do anything unsafe right there, on her street. She says the 32 years thing a couple times. Judge Kim gets mad again. She DOES NOT LIKE PEOPLE REPEATING themselves, note to self. Uh, so sorry, lady in your sensible cardigan. Better luck next time. Don't forget to sit in the blue chair to wait for your bill which you can pay on your way out.

Finally, the case I've been waiting for. The last officer left in the row of cops is the State Parks Ranger. His talking to god machine strapped to him, row of guns and cuffs and junk strapped across his manly belt. Same belt bailiff is wearing. She is manly too, in her too long bangs and scowly face way. He goes up there with a young guy. Guy is surfer kid. It's a long story. Judge looks like she has a teenager at home and has heard this story one too many times. Lot of holes in his long tale involving the skateboard and the permit and the fight and the market across the tracks and what was in the glove box. Ranger really doesn't need to say much, as the young dude sort of just talking his way further and further into a deep hole. A deep hole of losing.

One of the last things she admonishes young dude with is the warning, "Think before you use a State Beach. They have specific rules. Don't waste State resources at a time when they are scarce."

Gulp. But they're the ones driving around out there in their State resources giving us damn tickets for walking dogs. Oh boy.

So in my court day, how many citizens pleaded their cases successfully? How about ZERO! Zero became not guilty. A couple had fines suspended or reduced. The rest, so sorry, please come again. Lots of snorting and eye rolling from the bailiff. Bored sorting and filing from wrinkled blouse. Judge Kim, she's heard it all before. Like a million times. Not a whole lot is going to sway her to not side with our nation's finest, in their clean, pressed uniforms, badges, buckles and belts. Polished high boots and clearly written reports. These are her GUYS. She loves you guys. You keep the justice, make us citizens play by her rules. And then bring the troublemakers in here to get shamed.

Um. Has nothing to do with court. But what a depressing task we face. Just watching Gustavo do bizarre things is some good pet assisted therapy for me. This fence barking lasted exactly 2 days then went away. OK!

Court sounds fun? Oh man. Can't wait.


Anonymous said...

That was some good reporting Team Small Dog! (But now I'm late for work!) Those were chilling words at the end, though. Specific Rules. I promise to take off work and come sit during your court case. I think you will need to make a print-out list of instructions, e.g., should your supporters sigh audibly at times, or not? T-shirts with slogans, or cardigans? I'm afraid the future seems bleak for Team Small Dog and us all. At least Barack will be President by then!!!!

team small dog said...

Yeah, I am pretty sure that between Judge Kim and Scowling Bailiff, there should be no t-shirts with slogans, no audible sighing, no nothing. Go watch some Judge Judy episodes. You will get the idea.

Yes, we will look on the sunny side and while I may go down in a fiery explosion in court, all our contacts, weave poles, etc. we are giving up for Barack should have come to fruition. Keep missing those contacts or whatever you're giving up everybody, it's working!

Anonymous said...

I'm thinking you need a long range strategy, as in what happens after your Day In Court. How is this going to further the cause of giving Lighthouse Field back to the people (that it belongs to anyway)? This judge does not sound like she is going to change policy, no matter how many supporters are sitting in the peanut gallery (with or without t-shirts). The rangers do not sound like they are going to change policy, or change their practice either, for that matter. Who changes policy? Elected officials, and sometimes municipal adminstrators. Why do they change policy? Because enough voters or taxpayers bug them about it. So the question is, how will the outcome of your Day In Court affect the number of people who bug elected officials about giving Lighthouse Field back to the people? Um, and I am not seeing this part clearly...yet.

In my experience, breaking a rule is generally not an effective a way to get it changed, unless you can convince everyone else to break the rule too, all of the time. Otherwise you just end up being branded a criminal, treated like dirt by the people who get paid to treat people like dirt, and with less money in your pocket when all is said and done. None of us want any of those things to happen to you. All of us want Lighthouse Field to be given back to the people. Need a plan.

Sorry for the boring, long-winded comment. I really enjoy my daily TSD fix, including the Courtroom Drama segments, but I also know what it feels like to get the dirt treatment for a minor infraction. I'd happily forgo a chapter or two of TSD Courtroom Drama to spare you experiencing the dirt treatment for nada, but if you're gonna go through with it, please figure out how to make it further the cause, so you will have deep down inside the knowledge that your suffering is indeed going to make the world a better place, to balance against the "you are the scum of the earth" vibes that the paid representatives of the Established Order will be filling the room on your Day In Court.

Be that as it may, if I'm in town (a rather large "if"), I'm definitely coming to the show.

Anonymous said...

IMHO, the only way the cause can be furthered in Team Small Dog's Courtroom Experience will be if the judge is persuaded to give her community service (which she can do by helping Friends of Lighthouse Field, the non-profit organization which advocates for off-leash recreation at Lighthouse Field and Its Beach) in lieu of a fine.

Well-behaved, well-prepared Laura backed by well-behaved supporters might just realize this goal.

team small dog said...

Alaska has some really good points. I think in my legal naivete, I was hoping that mid way through my case, we were actually in a musical and the cops all break into a song and dance number about How I was Right and the Rangers Were Wrong and the Judge is dancing on her bench with the Bailiff and everything goes pink and sparkly. Because I had such a brilliant legal case.

Seeing the cold hard reality of court made me super nervous and totally realizing that uh, I DO NOT actually live in a musical and the cops are not played by Antonio Banderas, Cheech Marin and Nathan Lane. Hello and welcome to reality Laura!

I guess I see it as PR for the cause of the field. Look at how STUPID this whole thing is that they make her go to court. I am so not being a smart ass and just want to sound smart and get my fine waived unless of course dismissed. Because I sure as hell am not winning.

The long term plan? People are working on it, but we have to keep people out in the field. I guess I don't want it to be forgotten about. Even if it's in a bad way for me. I have tough skin. I think I can handle it. I guess. I hope. I know I'll be learning a lot, that's for sure.

Anonymous said...

Take heart, TSD! I think you will do your cause some good even if you don't get your fine waived.

Two things I learned from my two appearances in court: Judges can smell prevarication a mile away and you have about 5 seconds to make a good first impression. Speak only when spoken to, state the facts and then shut up. You're at least going to earn her respect for not being an idiot and for being prepared.