29 September 2006

And Justice For All.... or Where's Wapner When You Need Him?

I had cause this week to appear in General Sessions Court. No, the Thought Police have not caught up with me yet. I was appearing on behalf of my employer on a matter that will remain unnamed. If you’re really gung-ho about finding out why I was there, do a court search. The facts of the case will not give you any satisfaction, I can assure you. The only reason I have mentioned it, is to place why in time and space I found myself at the Birch Building.

In the course of my job, I have had to testify in a number of criminal proceedings. In the not so distant past, criminal hearings in Davidson County were held in the Ben West building. As quaint as the Ben West was, one could never escape thoughts of imminent peril. The age of the structure connoted lead paint, asbestos, falling plaster, and rooftop alters to Yog-Sothoth. This was the first time I had been in the new Birch Building. I applaud Metro for what they attempted to do with the structure. One gets the hint of a feeling of a scent of a vapor of the Los Angeles Water and Power buildings built during the WPA era. Too bad Metro didn’t have the cajones or budget to pull it off.

After some searching I found my courtroom with 10 minutes to spare. It’s been a while since I’ve had to testify. I was quickly reminded the Justice might be blind, but the old girl ain’t too swift. The scene is chaotic at best, and nothing is quick. District Attorneys and their flunkies are scrambling around talking to victims, petitioners of the court, and defense attorneys. No one, including the people that are paid to be there, seems to know what is going on. The DA’s are looking for witnesses like a 6th Grader searching for last night’s homework assignment. Defense attorneys are jocking like scrap dealers for a deal for their innocent clients. Babies are crying, dogs and cats are living together, and I’m glad I’m not hung over.

The judge finally hits the bench and tries to exert some order to the circus. The court officers are looking around nervously, as if Osama himself is going to make an attack on the court. The baby is still screaming. The judge begins to read the docket. To my amazement, 90% of the people that are supposed to be in court are not. A majority of cases are dismissed or awarded to the person that had the stomach to show up. As a tax payer it frosts my cookies. If you’re going to call the cops or get an order of protection, by all that is holy come to court finish what you started. There’s no telling how much money in administrative costs is wasted on the now shows.

Speaking of swift, there weren’t too many folks that showed up to court that fit that description. The majority of Order of Protection cases that were heard went something like this: Most of which stemmed from guy “A” and girl “B” getting in drunk and busting up Uncle Joe’s “Heroes of the Confederacy” Hummel collection. Girl “B” says something about how her baby daddy would never have done soemthing like that. Guy “A”, naturally, takes offence to this acieration. Guy “A” does or says something brash and the once happy couple is now calling Metro Police for couple’s counseling. So goes the days of our lives.

I sat through three and a half hours of this before the criminal cases are heard. Like I said before, the trick is just to show up. If you’ve had someone arrested and then don’t show up in court, the case is dismissed. So the defense attorney’s are looking for witnesses. If they see them, they try to cut a deal with the DA. There’s only one true DA in the court room. To her credit, she was a very cute, directed brunette with a pony tail. (If you’re reading this email me, I could use some legal advice.) The problem is that she’s the only one “for the people” that can make any decisions. Her assistants either lack the authority, brains, or stones to make a decision. Everything passes through her, and 3 hours in she has a look on her face that can be read, “I thought this was going to be like Law and Order when I took this job." My Magic 8 Ball sees a stiff drink in that young lady’s future.

What happened with my guy you might ask? Just what I’ve already observed. The perp cut a deal and I was out of the court room before the judge’s gavel hit. I feel used. I feel like I’ve wasted precious hours of my life. I feel a need to elect Judge Wapner to the Davidson County court system. Pondering if Wapner is dead or not, I make my way to my car and other adventures.

Post Script. Check this out. I ran Wapner’s name while writing this blog to make sure I had the spelling courrect. I found his bio and if you can believe this, he dated Lana Turner in High School. Life just is not fair sometimes.

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