By Wyatt Earp | June 16, 2005
Jerry Orbach, I found your replacement on Law and Order.
Before I get any nasty-grams from my friend Bill, I’m posting so late because I was in court all morning. (Bill likes to read SYLG during his lunch hour. Most folks like to read it in the bathroom. The printed version comes in handy after a number two.) Today is my day off, so court is about as welcome as Teresa Heinz Kerry is . . . well . . . anywhere. Sometimes, however, court is chock full of comedy, and today was no exception.
I was in Courtroom 501, which is mainly for traffic violation appeals. It is almost worth it just to hear the lame excuses people toss out for why they don’t have a valid driver’s license. One of the funniest today was, “I had been in prison when my license elapsed, your honor, so I should be exempt.” Of course, it is considered unprofessional for police officers to laugh out loud at defendants, but today’s shining star was above and beyond the boundaries of lunacy.
She was a woman in her mid-fifties, dressed as a schoolmarm, and carrying about a ream of paper in her homemade case file. She had originally been found guilty of her traffic violations (I’m not sure how many she received, but it appeared to be a lot), but was here today to appeal . . . acting as her own attorney! Picture if you will a middle-aged version of Damon Wayan’s homeless character on In Living Color; the one who used all the big words, but had no clue as to their meaning. This woman had obviously watched a few too many episodes of NYPD Blue.
When her case was called, she immediately approached the bench – just to be turned away by the bailiff. (We started ginning despite of ourselves.) Immediately after that, she wanted to file her homemade “Motion for Dismissal.” (At this, some officers laughed out loud before catching themselves.) Finally, the woman said that if the judge dismisses her appeal, she would like it to be dismissed “without prejudice.” (Now, everyone in the courtroom is doubled over in laughter, including me.) When the judge – who was much more patient than I ever would have been – finally explained that the woman was not a lawyer, but would get a new date for a trial, the woman relented, but asked the bailiff to send her new subpoena to her P.O. Box, because she didn’t want the court to know her home address!
All this trouble for a traffic ticket. This country is doomed.