Angry police and Easter bunnies

In the magistrate court this morning, waiting to pick a jury and then waiting for trial to start, I’m sitting in a little waiting area which is between a hallway to the west, a courtroom to the east, clerk’s offices to the north, and judge’s chambers to the south. I’m sitting on one of a row of 6 orange chairs, looking around at the wonderful pictures of bunny rabbits that they have put up on the window to one clerk’s office in front of me (someone else comes by and turns them all upside down while she is not looking – she is not amused but I am). On the door leading into the courtroom is a person-sized girl bunny rabbit with a basket and a happy smile. It must be getting close to Easter.
Sitting in the magistrate court today, I witnessed a full array of human emotion and behavior. Happy people with smiling faces, angry police officers, smiling police officers, angry defense lawyers (unfortunately, myself at one point), prosecutors threatening defendants who were scared and frightened (and whose mother nearly had a heart attack – not my case but good lord go easy on the elderly woman with the cane). While waiting, I had the opportunity to calm some people who were hurting, to share smiles with people I do not know, to get to know a defense lawyer I had not met before, and to talk with some old friends.
Off and on I’m talking with our police officer who is very tough, and who apparently has nothing better to do than spend his day in the magistrate court trying traffic violations to juries. My client (CW) who is charged with reckless driving (a 6-point violation that potentially carries up to 30 days in jail) has offered to take a four point ticket for “failure to maintain lane” instead (a 4-point violation which he appears to be what he is actually guilty of). The officer insists that CW must plead guilty to reckless driving, which we decline. The officer says that CW was, in fact, DUI and that he cut him a break. Maybe, but from what I saw he could not have made a case for DUI if he wanted to under the circumstances of this case.
The jury agreed with us that, regardless of whether he was guilty of failure to maintain his lane or DUI, CW was not guilty of reckless driving. I think, sometimes, in small cases like this, juries vote against whoever they think is wasting their time in the courtroom. They could not have known that we had offered to plead to failure to maintain a lane, but I’m sure may have guessed as much if they thought about it.
I don’t mind spending a day in the magistrate court for a small case like this – although we really did not expect to have a trial today, and of course there are bigger cases that need my attention, CW was relying on me to take care of him and it felt good to do it. Sometimes, we say the magistrate court is our playground – it’s good sometimes, and it’s refreshing, to get on our feet in a courtroom with a jury in a case where the potential sentence does not involve years or a lifetime in prison. And, the Easter bunnies were a nice touch.

One Response to “Angry police and Easter bunnies

  • Suspect Zero
    9 years ago

    The funny thing is I have a goooooood idea who that officer is just by your post….

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