Thoughts In (On?) a Poughkeepsie Court House

This, hopefully, will be my only day in court. Since every officer of the court has made it clear to me that they could care less about what I have to say, I plan to spend the time waiting on His Honour to write my defense.
What I did was as harmless as the parking ticket they're now charging me with. I turned right on a red light and, apparently, I wasn't allowed to do that.
I turned because it 9:00 on a Tuesday evening; I was tired, hungry and cold from working a 10 hour day. I was less than 5 minutes from home, and the intersection was clear. A minivan had just glided through and I paused at the red light to make sure there was no one else there. There wasn't, so I turned.
But I wasn't the only one. At the next intersection I looked in my rear view mirror and saw flashing lights. There was no shoulder to pull over on, so I pulled into the parking lot of an elementary school, wondering what on Earth I had done to get pulled over.
When the police officer told me he was ticketing me for turning on a red light I had to crunch my teeth together so I wouldn't point out he had done the exact same thing in order to ticket me.
"I'm sure you've done this before," he said.
"No!" I corrected him. "I've never had a ticket in my life!"
Once he had recommend I plead "Not Guilty," (not guilty of what? Being impatient to get home?) he went the wrong way through a "Do Not Enter" sign. It occurred to me that he will probably break more traffic laws during his career than I ever will.
Ladies and gentlemen of the jury: This is the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
I've spent the past 3 weeks thinking about what I would say in response to this charge levelled at me. I suppose I was a little naive, and innocently excited at getting to play a part in the American justice system; think Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. I blame watching too many episodes of Law and Order.
The way the special prosecutor, Craig Wallace, churned people in and out of his office "negotiating" please and snapping his mint green gum the whole time, made it clear to me that he did not want an argument from me.
The image that came to mind, as I waited endlessly, was the tax on the world levied by Cesar Augustus forcing a carpenter and his very pregnant wife to make a trip to Bethlehem.
Way to take the wind out my sails with an anti-climatic, "I can knock it down to a parking ticket, which will be $100.00, no points on the license, no issue with your insurance." I did not plan to meekly nod my head, members of the jury. I had planned to storm the lions of injustice and make them see sense. I wanted to prove my point that I was not a danger to the streets with my crazy driving (my car was made in 1996 and is not capable of anything crazy). I wanted them to nod their heads in agreement that this whole thing was nonsense, and how can I follow the law, when officers of it don't even follow it, so no ticket for you Ms. Grabowska, and we are very ashamed of ourselves.
Ladies and Gentlemen of the jury, I have discovered that this is not Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, and I am not Jimmy Stewart. I broke a rule, trying to get home late one night. But, members of the jury, I am not a criminal. I do not display a callous indifference to the laws and stipulations of the road, put into effect to protect our community. The only real parking ticket I was ever issued came while I was giving blood.
What I am, to these lawyers and judges, is a little cash cow, and they want to make a neat, medium-sized incision to get just a little money, so that I can go and gambol about the pasture until the next time they feel a little hungry.
I agreed to pay $100.00 and that's all that anyone in this justice system actually gives a crap about (excuse me, members of the jury, my legalese is beginning to deteriorate in my mounting frustration). This is not about safety, or fairness; no one paid attention as to whether I could have hurt someone, or damaged any property. The only question put to me directly was whether I could pay the full amount today.
This was a about money, and I waited for three hours in the court room so I could state for the record that I would pay a sum of money to make whatever kind of ticket this was go away.
From the moment I arrived, an hour early, I was treated like a a suspicious character who was moronically not following instructions that were being beamed to my consciousness by mental communication just to waste everyone's time. Gentlemen, I'm not wasting your time; it's my time that's being squandered here. I've sat in the same damn chair for over an hour.
So my wide-eyed-Jimmy-Stewart awe and respect of the justice system has hotly evaporated. I feel dirty, as though a professor I liked and admired just copped a feel on me and it turns out the he's simply a randy old pervert. In such a situation, one quickly finds out that everyone always knew what he was doing in those "study sessions," but just found it easier to tolerate him.
Just as the law doesn't give a shit about anyone in the court room, no one in the courtroom gives as shit about the law.


Popular Posts