Last week I learned something very important about myself: I will never be a judge. I mean the courtroom kind. No bench sitting or black robe for me.
Give me Dancing With the Stars and I could run with that. (First order of business–buh bye Nancy Grace).
I always expected that judges sat on the bench, listened carefully, weighed the facts, and then
dolled out punishment imposed sentence. I thought they separated truth from fiction. Found the holes in testimony. And most of all, I thought judges didn’t tolerate bunk.
I think I’m pretty good at all those things.
But that’s not what happens, at least not in traffic court.
I had my first-ever courtroom experience this week (Speeding ticket. Blech.) and surprisingly, court was almost enjoyable. I quickly realized though, that I could not be a judge for one main, big reason. I can’t stand morons. And court is FULL of morons.
While I waited on my case to be called, I got to hear all the moron stories and there were lots of them. But this reckless driving case was my favorite:
A guy was in a pick-up truck, pulling a trailer with a riding lawn mower on it. He was clocked at 55 in a 25 mph zone.
But strangely, he couldn’t tell he was going 55. Even though he was in town. Even though he was going faster than, like, everyone. Even though when he turned the corner at the end of the block, the lawn mower flew right off the trailer and onto the curb. He was completely and utterly unaware that he was speeding, until the police officer, who happened to be following him with his blue lights on, told him.
And there was a reason for that, a few actually. (This is where it gets even more interesting). He even had pictures to “prove” it. You see, his tires were very large (shows photo). And his speedometer was very erratic (shows photo). And he’d had it worked on (shows photo). And there was also some special detail about his tachometer (shows photo). I’m still not sure just what the tach had to do with anything.
I’m not the most perceptive person, but I believe that is what you would call “hoo-ha”.
I am personally not a fan of hoo-ha. I assumed judges would not be fans of hoo-ha either. I waited for the scathing remarks.
After all, isn’t court where you’re supposed to get your comeuppance?
I was on the edge of my seat, waiting on the fireworks that were certain to end this complete mockery of our legal system by a crazy man with an unbelievable story backed up by 100 completely irrelevant photos.
Throughout his testimony, I thought of plenty of responses. Several solid sarcasm-laced comebacks.
The greatest thing about being a judge has to be giving people what they deserve, right? Right?
When the whole long story was over, and the man had presented all of his photos, and some of them twice, the judge finally said…
“Sir, have you ever gone to driving school?”
The judge was so cool. So calm. So collected. No smart remarks. No sass. No sarcasm. No eye rolls.
Not even an eye roll?
I was rolling my eyes in the back of the courtroom.
Does being a judge mean you have to be patient? Does it mean you have to listen to ridiculous, convoluted stories all day long? Does it mean you can’t actually tell people when they’re being morons?
Based on his judgment, I assume the answers to all of those questions must be yes.
And based on that, sadly, I shall never be a judge.
For the record, when my name was called, I didn’t offer any excuses for speeding. I simply said, “guilty,” and politely asked for driving school. And… I got it!
Of the many amusing things I heard in court that day, here are two more of my favorites:
Charge: Speeding — 46/35
Judge: How do you plead?
Judge: Then what brings you to court?
Man: I had mitigating circumstances. (He said mitigating!! This was rehearsed.)
Judge: Okay. Tell me what happened.
Man: (grins sheepishly, looks down, puts hands in pockets) Well, your honor, I was taking my wife to the OB-GYN.
Judge: (raises eyebrows and smiles) Oh, you were having a baby?
Man: Well, no, she’s having the baby in November, it was just her regular appointment. But I was really excited, because we are having a baby. I was just so excited that I wasn’t paying attention to my speed. I really wanted to get there.
Judge: Oh. Have you ever been to driving school?
Charge: Possession of Marijuana
…After the man pleads guilty
Judge: Sir, you will have a $600 fine plus court costs. It must be paid in 90 days, or you will go to jail.
Man: Well, how much will that be?
Judge: Probably a little more than $700 total. But you’ll have 90 days to get it paid.
Man: Can I make payments?
Judge: Yes. You may speak with the clerk outside to set up a payment plan.
Man: Do you think $10 a month would work?
Judge: No. It must be paid in full in 90 days.
Man: Well, I only get $724 a month. I can only pay $10 a month. Will that work?
Judge: No. It must be paid in full in 90 days.
Man: How will I pay it?
Judge: I don’t know how you’ll pay it. But it must be paid in full in 90 days.
Man: I only get $724 a month.
…and it kept going. The judge never lost his cool.
What patience that man had.