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"This is the most exciting day of my life...and I was pulled on stage once to dance at a Bruce Springsteen concert."
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Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Justice For All, Digits For Some

So yesterday was my day in court for the fender bender I had back in October.

First the bad news... besides the accident itself that is. Tried as I might to convince her otherwise, my principal would not let me come in late and instead made me take the entire day off. I know. Poor baby. Taking the whole day off. Only when there's so much to do and you can't do any of it, a day off isn't as welcome as you might imagine, but that's another post for another day.

Now you might recall there were no witnesses to the accident, however a co-worker of mine was a witness to the officer's handling of the events. So she insisted on coming eventhough I told her she didn't have to. The kicker being SHE was allowed to take part of the day and I wasn't. My principal rationalizied that she needed less coverage considering what she was missing. Whatever. Beggars can't be choosers.

I arrived at court early considering I've been through this game before, a game, by the way, I've become far too hip to playing as of late. Only depending on who you're playing with, the rules change slightly. Since I work in this town normally I pretty much know the rules. The rules are there aren't any rules. It's a free for all. A crapshoot. Expect the unexpected. Surreal. Picture Disneyland only without all the magic and talking characters.

Of course I got there early enough, but early don't amount to a hill of beans in this neck of the woods. No sign in sheet + no order = NO FAIR. So after being the second person to arrive, we got word that we had to line up if we wanted to talk to the prosecutor. Suddenly I went from second to thirty-second in under 60 seconds. I felt like Nancy Kerrigan after she lost it all at the 1994 Olympic games.

Finally, it was my turn. I went in and talked to the prosecutor. Instantly I knew that this was not a man to be afraid of. Why? Well, because he decides to break the ice...with a joke.

"Branagan? Let me guess. You're guilty of impersonating an Irishman."

Then he gets to the business of actually...taking care of business.

He looks at the charge and then takes out a copy of the accident report. As soon as he sees the name of the officer who wrote up the ticket he begins to roll his eyes and make NO ATTEMPT to hide his emotions toward the man. I can't really do it justice with a picture here so I'll have to settle for a semi-translation with words: "HE'S AN IMBECILE."

Now he didn't elaborate as to why he didn't particularly er, trust? this officer's judgment, but let's just say he made it clear that he did not. He didn't even need to ask my side of the story as the rendering the officer of the scene of the crime spoke for itself. Basically, he drew the accident as if I had turned and more or less AIMED for the car in question. The prosecutor said he highly doubted that was what happened, but that he was very familiar with the intersection and that without an eyetwiness camera, there would be no way to call it. In short, his opinion was that no ticket should have been issued and that it should be dismissed.

Well like, duh. That's what I'd been saying all along!

Only I wasn't in the clear just yet. Since I had decided to plead not guilty, the girl who was driving the other car was given a summons to appear. So I saw her sitting out there but of course I hadn't said anything to her. The prosecutor had to talk to her and make sure she didn't want to file a complaint outside of the ticket that he was about to throw out.

So the prosecutor asked me if I could tell her to come in for a minute. I told him I could...if she understood English because at the scence of the accident you might remember she was all "No Hablas Englais" in the officer's face. So I approached her with trepidation. I don't like to cop to stereotypes. I mean I work in the town with the population day in and day out. But this particular chick totally looked like she was gonna go Michelle Rodriguez in Girlfight on my ass. I'm just saying.

So she went in. She came out. I went in again. Apparently she didn't know why she was there. She didn't want to file any complaints, the insurance covered the damage to her car and she didn't have any braces around her neck to conjure up any mysterious injuries that may have occured after she left the scene, so it was all good. So the prosecutor said he asked her if she wanted to go home. She said yes. So he said so leave. Just like that.

Oh and her conversation with the prosecutor? According to him? In perfect English.

Motion to adjourn.

All that was left was to go into the court room and have it officially dismissed by the judge. What can I say? Just when you think that you're out they pull ya back in. Lucky for me I only had to wait for a few minutes and got to listen to a rather amusing testimonial between one defendant and the judge which ended with the judge giving his personal cell phone number to the defendant so he could "see how things go". I can't make this shit up if I tried.

Finally I had my moment in front of the judge. I could not make out one word the man with a mouthful of marbles was saying. Very pleasant man, just completely incoherent. It was what I would imagine having a conversation with Ozzy Osbourne would be like. I said thank you. I walked out. I paid nothing. I could have been dismissed. Otherwise I could be in contempt of court right now.

If only I had his cell number to double check.



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