If I stand before one more judge who wags her finger to excoriate me about ignorance of the law I swear my next column will be written from Philadelphia’s Graterford Prison.
I was appearing before this non-virtual-reality “Judge Judy” at the behest of an Assistant District Attorney whose hide I will beat raw in near-future vituperations of our criminal, criminal justice system.
The ADA, who didn’t do her legal job as a problem solver from the outset, had — much more quickly than a bureaucrat usually takes to shuffle and reshuffle stacks of soon-to-be wastepaper — withdrawn all the felonious charges my mentally challenged ex-wife filed against me. But not before I was a guest of the city. At the same time her office suggested I attend to a two-year-old bench warrant – which I had absolutely no knowledge of — from something insane my prevaricating-ex had then alleged. The ADA’s recommendation came with the admonishment that: you know, in case one of our city’s finest wants to get in some easy overtime and pick you up.
So there I was in a community court, whose purpose is to unclog the constipation of Philadelphia courts, waiting all day to get something dismissed that should have been discharged at the crack of dawn. But, of course, the judge obviously ruled that her union contract enabled her to get the court underway well over an hour late.
At last, I was called. The court clerk misspoke my middle initial as an ‘L’ instead of and ‘I’. I corrected him, as everybody was instructed to do all day long if they misstated your name for the court record. But the suddenly prissy Judge must have been suffering a migraine relapse of the dreaded Black Robe’s Disease. She began verbally pummeling me. A flurry of assaults on my integrity and sanity.
Believe it or not, I stood there patiently, realizing that as a erstwhile journalist I used to consider walking into a court of law much like walking into a cathedral. But now it’s more like walking into a casino. And I got some voracious vampire with stock options, reminding me what my ex-wife would look like if she ate too many grapes and tasty-kakes, dealing me bad cards.
Finally the court clerk spoke up. With fear in his beady eyes and the shaky voice of a rattling rafter he explained to the Judge that I was only doing what had been instructed. It was slow to register on Her Honor, who had been continuing her screeching harangue in the squealing pitch of an incoming fighter jet.
“Oh,” she exhaled, unapologetically. “You’re forgiven, then.”
Where’s my machete when I need it?
And I came even closer to re-detonating Hiroshima when this Judge Judy, whose jests and half-wit weren’t even amusing to her cabal of courtroom acolytes and sycophants, conveyed me the options to plead: guilty, not-guilty or no contest — which means I can settle on a fine for something I didn’t do and knew nothing about. I emphatically said not-guilty.
At which time the rotund Beelzebub informed me I would have to return again for an actual hearing – before her and the dreaded Middle Age plague of her Black Robe.
From what manhole do these misanthropes crawl?
Look, I know someone has to act as Judge. But couldn’t we get folks who act better – like from Hollywood. Or Bollywood. Or even Pornowood. Afterall how does a judge train to act stoopid? Go to law school? Uh-oh, that’s swimming in the shallow end of the gene pool. I mean, how difficult can law school be when lawyers have to practice all their lives, and still not get it right?
And so three weeks later, there I was again before this three-foot-high, three-foot-wide (squared) “Judge.” If she had a flat head to hold my beer she would have been the anthropomorphic love of my life. And around noon, as I am finally approaching the bench, she laments to one of her clerks that there is no one there to testify against me.
At long last she starts wagging a finger to upbraid me for not appearing two years ago at my hearing. And as she is about to deliver the fatuous rebuke that “…ignorance of the law is no….” I have had enough.
More than enough.
As Popeye tooted: I can’t stands no more.
I know you can’t win in these situations. You can’t argue with folks who buy ink by the barrel. Or judges who can’t fit their egos in front of one circus mirror. And most poignantly, you can’t argue with fools because all they do is drag you down to their level and then beat you with experience.
“Your honor, please,” I uttered with firm resolve. “Don’t deliver that banality. It’s beneath the court.” I was practically gagging. I then asked if she could recite the 10 Commandments; the basis of our laws; what G-d gave Moses to deliver to mankind.
She paused for a moment. And I rescued her. I said that not only she couldn’t recite them but probably 95 percent of the 200 people in the courtroom couldn’t either. And, honestly, neither could I. But, gesturing at Her Majesty, I offered that if YOU don’t know the basis of our law – the 10 Commandments, how am I suppose to know the 10 billion man-made laws? Yes I am ignorant of the law. But it is excusable. There are too many to remember – even if my ex-wife is still trying to figure out how to spear chuck them all at me.
She gazed at me with smoldering disdain – a seeming flicker in her oversized reptilian tail.
I viewed her with the confusion of a puzzled poet.
She bored a burning squint at me.
I leveled my eyes squarely, figuring what-duh-heck. Graterford Prison here I come.
Her coterie held its collective breath.
Finally and begrudgingly she hissed: “I guess I’ll have to dismiss the charges then.”
As respectfully as a dog pisses on a fire hydrant, I thanked her. I still don’t know what the charges were. Then with one foot almost out the court I noted: “You know,” Your Honor, “the dissident Soviet writer Solzhenitsyn once said that in American law we find legality more important than justice……I am glad today you have proved him wrong.”
When I say I hope I never see this “Judge Judy” again, I can only trust she takes that personally. For we do, indeed, often get the judges we don’t even know we’re electing, dictating laws that have little to do with justice. Quite honestly, all judges certainly aren’t stupid, they’re just stupidly elected.
And dats yDrewIS on DIS penal colony.