This was my first court date since January.
Even after reading countless news stories and John Grisham novels, I never cease from being astonished at how slowly the system operates. It’s been well over a year, and I’m still in the “pretrial” phase. Ridiculous.
After briefly meeting with my lawyer after my January court appearance, I never heard back from her. In fact, I have called and emailed her office multiple times since then, and most of those times I never received a reply.
Finally, the day before my recent July 16 court date, I emailed her. I wanted to say something like, I paid you $4,000, and you don’t even return my phone calls?! However, I’m glad I didn’t; my stepfather used to work for the district attorney in his hometown, and he said if I make my lawyer angry, then she could very well lose my case on purpose.
The lawyer responded and blamed the slow process on the county psych ward for not releasing my records. Why the lawyer didn’t bother to tell me this before, I have no idea.
My latest court date was routine. I waited for the courtroom doors to open at 9:00am, and then I went in and grabbed a front-row seat. I figured if I had to be there, I would at least keep myself entertained by observing the three-ring circus known as county criminal court.
An inmate from the jail across the street sneaked in with a sheriff through a door beside the judge. Interestingly, I had never noticed the door before; it had a big square window and no handle from the inside. The inmate, a thin African-American guy with matted hair and a full beard, was dressed in a baggy dark green jumpsuit. He stood like a statue. I thought he was in handcuffs until he scratched his nose.
I didn’t see it, but apparently the inmate was suddenly removed through that back door. There was some commotion, and then his distraught lawyer came back in. He and the judge whispered to each other for about 5 minutes. The judge slowly ran her fingers through her hair. “He always does this,” she said as the lawyer stormed out of court.
Next, a young hipster in business casual pled guilty to the charge of obstruction of a highway. For the uninitiated, this misdemeanor usually stems from an initial DWI and is pled down to the vague “obstruction of a highway.” He received 30 days’ probation and was told to pay $900 in court costs!
When my lawyer mentioned I would have to pay court costs if we lost our case, I was thinking more of a $40 service charge or something.
Anyway, starting to get bored, I looked at the clock.
I had been waiting for my blasted lawyer for two hours?! I went out in the hallway and called her office. A secretary said something about the lawyer having to defend a case in city court at the last minute. In other words, she became too busy to help me.
The court secretary confirmed this news to me when I went back in.
“Am I free to go now?” I asked.
“Unless you want to take me out to lunch.”
I gave her a placating smile and left. It could be worse, I thought.
It could be a lot worse.