Monday, July 13, 2009

Courtroom Chaos and Cash

By Insurance Guru

I recently accompanied a friend to a court appearance. The background story as to why she was there isn't really relevant to the goings-on that I witnessed that day. First of all, the court room was jam packed. Apparently, a recent holiday had led to some "over-booking". What the heck - even the airport couldn't beat this place for high, quality people-watching.

First person up to bat was an lady from Armenia. She spoke broken English but declined a translator. Accused of shoplifting, she was given the "misdemeanor speech" by the judge... "up to a year in jail or probation, a fine and other costs, blah, blah, blah. She plead guilty, got 10 days in jail to be served if she didn't complete the year's probation. She also had to pay a $500.00 fine and complete a shop-lifting diversion class provided to the city by Wescalpem Enterprises. Wait a minute....who doesn't know shoplifting is bad? How much of a kickback does the city get for this $250.00 class that my dogs could teach?

Batting second was a young man reappearing for a curfew violation back in 2002. No - that is not a typo. I would've apologized for wasting this young man's time, but no - the judge said he "hoped the young man was staying out of trouble". Excuse me? ...If all I had to show for my mis-spent youth was a curfew violation?

Batting third, fourth and fifth was a trio of Hispanic shoplifters that needed a translator. See same result as batter number one.

Number six was a DUI. This fellow had to pay $1500.00 in fines, serve 30 days in jail with work release allowed for twenty of those days. For the remaining ten days of the sentence he's on house arrest. Of course he had to pay 25 bucks a day for the ankle bracelet and pay for the DUI diversion classes provided to the city by Nobucksforu Inc. I'm pretty sure there were other fines and assorted costs in there, but I couldn't keep up.

Number seven was a young man accused of assault. The funny thing about this is that it had previously been dismissed... twice. According to the judge, the city had a year to continue to bring this up. So they did. There's probably some big bucks to be had from the Hitting/Yelling is Bad diversion classes.

The entire afternoon parade went on in the same manner and my friend's case wasn't heard. It was a standing room only day at court, but what an education in our judicial system.

After watching all this money grabbing going on, my friend "lawyered-up" the very next day. It was expensive, but let's give the bucks to someone doing their job. In less than two weeks time, all charges against her have been dropped without another visit to the cash court. We still have to wait a year to see if they've developed a "Fines are Cheaper than a Lawyer" diversion class.
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chupacabra said...

Funny, sad and scary- because it's all true.

Buck said...

It is amazing isn't it. We just love to "privatize" in this country. BTW: watch your local paper because eventually you'll see that the people running wescalpem and nobucksforu probably are related or have a cozy relationship with the judge and prosecutor. But what kills me is that not only do we have the "diversion" companies now, we also are having private prisons and I'm expecting to see private "courts" soon as more and more places push for "alternative courts" and "diversion courts." Which is what it sounds like you were watching.

insuranceguru said...

Buck - I always had a warm fuzzy spot somewhere in the sub-cockles of my heart for what I thought was our "American Justice System". What I witnessed left me angry and frightened. There is no place in the court system for one honest citizen without a lawyer.

insuranceguru said...

Perfectly put.