The court day has come and past. Auntie Hannah was the first in line for the day. She wanted moral support, so little brother and I went for moral support. We showed up on time, only to realize that we were at the wrong building. Sprinting across the parking lot with little brother in tow, because I thought for some reason bringing an infant was a good idea.
Has anyone been to the county courts before, because we had no idea what we were suppose to do. There was a docket with like 11 pages, giving names and descriptions of what people were charged with and their attorneys. Hannah's was one of the few who didn't have an attorney...did we freaking need one? Hannah's eyes were getting bigger by the moment. Some of the charges people had were pretty extreme, I mean, we didn't see any murder charges, but some were pretty horrendous in my mind.
We thought someone would maybe come out and instruct us, but nothing. Finally, Hannah decided to go inside and sit in the courtroom. I sat out in the hall for a few minutes, then realized that Hannah wasn't come back out. There were people coming in and out of the room constantly. Finally, I peeked in the doors and thought we were in church or something. There were lots of pew/benches and a big spot for the judge. I decided it would probably be a good idea to have my other sister come and pick up little brother. After she came and picked him up I went back to the courtroom and started crocheting. Because crocheting is good to calm the nerves. As I'm looking around, I'm seeing all sorts of people; farmers, shady people, judges, prosecutors, clerks and INMATES in chains and stripes.
I mean really. Some people were there for speeding tickets, shoplifting, then there were others , by others, I mean things I don't like to name. It was kind of unnerving to be sitting there with some hardened criminals, listening to their crimes and sentences. Prosecutors and attorneys were walking around talking quietly as the judge dealt with his current villain.
Apparently, there is this water tower in Logan Canyon where you write your name and a girl got caught. The judge kind of reeled her a bit, but she was charged with $50 for the trespassing and then $500 for the graffiti. $50 for trespassing? We could handle that right?! Right?
Hannah was finally called up to the microphone and the judge thought she was another graffitier. (?) But, Hannah calmly explained that actually, we were going for a "good wholesome family activity," that required jumping off a bridge.
The judge laughed at her.
Then waved his arm dismissively and assigned her another court date and told her to call the Prosecutor.
That was it.
Does that seem highly inefficient to anyone else? For reals? She was literally standing there less than a minute. I decided then and there that I needed to find out how this really worked. (I mean, I took Business Law in college, can't be that hard right??!?!) The prosecutor was still standing there as court adjourned, so I put on my big girl undies and decided to talk to him. I explained in a rather shaky and small voice that there were four of us with citations and I was wondering how we could get this done in one day instead of two (highly inefficient days.) He said that he would talk to my Prosecutor and get all our deals worked out, but that I'd probably have to come back another day.
We were feeling pretty good after that. Still slightly annoyed that I would have to come back, but at least I knew what to expect in the courtroom. My court wasn't for an hour so we decided to get some lunch. After seeing how Hannah's court went I decided that no moral support, I had my crochet hooks.
As I sat through court, crocheting away, I listened to all sorts of weird things. Old men stealing bark from the stores, women punching husband's girlfriends...it only got more extreme. This time, there were 13 inmates in chains, three of them were women. Crazy right?!!? Once again the prosecutors were walking around talking to people and handing them papers. I eavesdropped (it wasn't hard, they weren't really whispering) on two girls and it looks like they were charged with trespassing at the water tower at were being cited for $50. (Things were looking better and better!!)
The prosecutor actually came and called my name out to the crowd ... with a paper!!! We stepped outside and he asked if I wanted a lawyer. (Did I need one?) He explained that he was the one prosecuting against me and that he was going to charge me $500 for the trespassing and 8 hours of community service. Usually, I don't keep my emotions hidden very well, but I tried very hard to keep an even face. Inside, I was kind of freaking out about the injustice in the world, especially, since I didn't even jump off the stupid bridge. Why didn't I JUMP?! But, then after explaining the community service, the prosecutor decided to drop the fine to $400...then somehow he dropped it to $300 with the community service. He then suggested I read through the papers and wait for my name to be called.
Feeling slightly deflated and wondering what it would have been like to jump, I started listening to a guy being charged with smoking weed. He was fined and then sentenced to 2 days in jail. Which, the judge asked him when he could serve his time. (Wait, what?) The judge then asked him his work schedule. I mean, they were accommodating his work schedule with his jail sentence? Finally, they worked out a day and he was told to show up at 11pm to start his sentence.
You guys, this is nothing like Law and Order.
It got even more hysterical when he called up the next "trespasser of the water tower." The judge sat there for a moment and said "I'm tired of doing these, when are people going to find out that there is a silent alarm up there?" Then the judge held up his hands and exclaimed
"Trespassers of the water tower: Crime of the Century!"
We all laughed.
The judge called all the trespassers up at once (I was excluded from this group) and had all four of them plead guilty together and fined them $50. He really was tired of dealing with this trespassing thing, he explained they don't normally group people together.
Next, they called my name. I walked up and the Prosecutor stopped me and whispered that he would drop my charge to $50 since everyone had that.
While I'm up there, I'm trying to appear confident and not like a crook. It was seriously nerve wrecking, I mean, just 10 feet away there were 13 inmates chained and listening to my ridiculous charges. The judge asked the prosecutor why I had 8 hours of community service and the last four girls didn't. (I wanted to know why too.) The prosecutor explained that he felt it was different and because the previous charges were kind of a tradition...etc. To which, I responded by saying, "Well, everyone else was doing it too." In the end, the judge said because I'd already signed it that I would just have to serve it. (I really don't mind, it's not like service it bad for anyone.) The judge went on to say that we should spread the word to not jump from that bridge. A few years ago, a boy drowned jumping off the bridge.
If only he knew that I never even jumped off that bridge.
So, in the end, $50 bucks (which I just realized today I hadn't paid yet..just paid it) and 8 hour of community service for not even jumping off the bridge.
Hopefully, you now have a good understanding of what really goes on in the courts, since this was a novel.