So, last week I was scheduled to attend a preliminary hearing for one of my court cases. I checked in with the assistant district attorney, who said that while the victim was not subpoenaed (no, I don’t know why, either), the defendant was brought down from the prison, and the case was ready to go. That’s good news because nine times out of ten, our cases are continued for reasons ranging from a missing witness to a rainy day. (Criminals don’t come to court in the rain.)
After two hours, my case is finally called. As I am getting ready, the sheriff tells the judge that the defendant was NOT brought down from the prison. When the judge reminds said sheriff that she just told us he was downstairs, she gives him a shrug. Oh well, I guess I’m going home.
Then it happens.
The ADA approaches me and says, “We’re ready to go.” I started laughing and replied, “Yeah, right.” She was serious. She informed me that we were going to put on the prelim in absentia. Amazingly, the defense attorney agreed to this nonsense. So, we put on a hearing without a victim, and without a defendant.
I stepped to the stand, and expected the usual opening question: “Detective, is there anyone here you recognize from that day?”
“Um yeah, the empty space next to the defense attorney.”
Sadly, that question was never raised, and I gave my testimony. I’m not sure what I said, because I kept repeating, “This is insane” in my head. Inconceivably, the judge decided there was enough to hold the empty space, er, defendant, and the next hearing is scheduled for June.