Thursday, May 22, 2008

My Day in Court

"Your honor, I plead Not Guilty because the driveway was too big. It used to be a single driveway and now it's double. Here, I have a photo."

The defendant approached the bench. The judge took an offered photo.

"Let it be entered into the record that the defendant provided evidence of a photo of a double driveway in front of a large house. There is a large NO PARKING sign across the driveway. Is that your car parked in front of the driveway? But you are pleading Not Guilty to parking in front of the driveway?"

The crowd, all defendants as well, tittered. We'd all entered the JC courtroom scared of the judge and the system, but so far the judge had been simultaneously stern, sympathetic, and amusing. He'd let the first defendant, a wheelchair-bound senior citizen with a breathing apparatus, off when she'd said she'd had to go into some office and get foodstamps. He hadn't let the guy off who bluffed that his summons had been sent to the wrong address so what was the court going to do about the fact that this might not even be him? (Nice try, had you not just claimed slow meter and admitted to the offense.)

I was confident about my case. I'd gotten a ticket for parking in a "No Parking, 6 am - 10 am, Mon-Fri" space in front of my home. On a Sunday afternoon. If I'd known where the ticket writer was that day, I'd have given him advice on learning to read. I'd taken a digital photo of the sign and printed it out (at, um, work on the fancy printer, sorry, boss).

"Let it be entered into the record that the defendant has submitted a... camera phone with an image of a curb with no yellow or red painted on it. Not Guilty. You are free to leave."

I hadn't had so much fun in weeks. It had been inconvenient to have to leave work early and go out to Journal Square, but this was better than going to the movies.

"Marie Jaa-vins?"

I approached the table. With confidence. I couldn't be more in the right. I quietly rubbed my pocket hippo for good luck. In one minute, I'd be sailing out the doors to catch the Latino minibus back to my part of town.

"Ms. Javins, you are here on two charges. How do you plead?"

"TWO? I'm Not Guilty on the one—here's the sign—but what's the second?"

"December 2006, parking on Sixth and Monmouth without a permit."

Shit. December, 2006? WTF? What was I doing there? Would I have parked there? Isn't that a permit-free block? What year is it? Did I live here then? Argh, I don't remember!

"Um, how much is the fine?"


Ah, to hell with it.


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