Friday, May 22, 2009

Traffic Court

I sat in the trailer which acts as the temporary Manchester General District Court yesterday morning and fumed. I had to take off of work to come into this hell-hole and act as a witness to the accident where my truck was nearly totaled.
And, let me tell you... this was a scene out of Night Court.
I'm going to skip the plethora of cases I had to sit through and get to one of the real gems...

There were two older black folks - one man and one woman - sitting on either side of the court-room in wheelchairs. She was dressed nicely while he was... not. He was missing his teeth and kept drooling/spitting into a towel that he had draped across his jeans. When the case was finally called, each person's handler got up and rolled them to the front of the court.
Apparently, they lived in a nursing home and he liked to torture her... he'd hit her chair with his, slap her in the face over and over, taunt her, block her rolling path down the hallway, etc. When the judge asked him his side of the story, he lifted his head and I THINK he stated:
"Ah aimenent guht nubbthin t'say. She a lahruh. I aimenent ne'r duhn nubbthin ter," and then dropped his head down again. The judge pleaded with him to not engage in the behavior again or else he'd have no choice but to send him to the city jail.
It was vaguely sad, yet damnably amusing...
And then around 12:45pm (nearly 90 minutes after the session began, The Case was called.
I stepped up to the front of the court and stood alongside the officer as the judge began to explain the charges against the girl. I never got a good look at her at the accident but while everything about her screamed Hood Rat, she was actually kind of cute... and then she opened her mouth to answer the charges...
"Nah Gitty."
The judge sighed and explained what he had in the notes of the case (location of the accident, the makes and models of the vehicles, etc), and then asked if she'd like to add anything.
"Ah gitty of hittin' him, but I AIN'T gitty of NO rrrreeckless drivin'!"
There was a pause as he stared at her and then looked to the officer:
"Officer, please give me the details."
The officer explained the further details of the accident and was quickly interrupted.
"Ah AIN'T gitty of NO rrrrreckless drivin'!"
Another long pause.
It was almost a deliciously awkward pause.
I basked in it.
Wallowed, even.
The officer cleared her throat and added, "Your honor, her exact quote to me at the scene was 'I was listening to music on my cell phone and I couldn't stop."
The judge nodded and looked to me. "Mr. Spidle, do you have anything to add?"
I kind of smiled and said, "No, sir." You've been damnably patient with everyone that's come through here this morning and you showed amazing leniency on everyone who showed you the bare amount of respect, Your Honor. In this case, you didn't have to give her the rope, she brought her own. Fire away, Your Honor!
"In that case, I find you guilty of reckless driving."
The galley cheered, I wept in vindication, and they dragged her kicking and screaming off to prison while her loved ones looked on with a mix of shame and hatred.
Or the last three people in the court room waited for their names to be called as I strode out of the court and she went off to pay her fine in the clerk's office.

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