March 12th, 2003

duke-juggle

Court Appearance

Adding insult to injury, I was ticketed for my car accident in January. The officer told me that, by law, he was required to ticket somebody. Since I was the only one who had stopped, and my car had not collided with another vehicle (just a very unforgiving wall), I was the unlucky one who got the ticket.

The ticket said "speed too fast for conditions". I don't believe I was really at fault though. I was going with the flow of traffic, the same speed as everybody else. If that was too fast, then everybody should have gotten into accidents, right? The only reason I lost control was because I was swerving to avoid another car. Another car which was trying to occupy the same lane as me. Another car which didn't even bother to stop. Had I not swerved, at least we two vehicles would have collided, and possibly others -- the accident could have been much worse.

So I entered a plea of "Not Guilty" and set a court date. My court date was this morning.

I awoke this morning still feeling pretty sick and miserable from my cold, plus nervous. I dragged myself into nice clothes, jotted down the court's address, and jotted down a list of points I wanted to make when I spoke.

The court was crowded at 8:30 this morning, and I seated myself quietly in the back. There were a bunch of small claims cases which occurred first, and she didn't mention anything about traffic. I nervously exited the courtroom to double-check that I was in the correct place. I was, so I sat back and listened to the drama unfold in the first one.

I felt like I was on a talk show. A 32-year-old woman was making a claim against her parents. They had recently thrown her out of their home, because she wanted to move in with her boyfriend. The parents didn't approve of this boyfriend. She had a joint bank account with her father while she was living with them, and he had decided to keep all of the money in it. She wanted it back. There was much gasping, shouting out of turn, and dramatics.

The girl had bright blue fingernail polish, and she was wearing jeans and her winter coat. Her boyfriend sported a long mullet. I felt out of place in my dressy black wool jacket and slacks.

The whole thing came down to a verbal agreement, and each party claimed the agreement was different. Everybody agreed that the girl had earned the money, but her parents claimed that she had agreed to live rent-free with them and follow their rules, and if she didn't she would forfeit everything. She just wanted the money in the joint account, as it was hers. The mother kept raising her hand, as though she was in school. Finally she loudly exclaimed (several times in a row), "I will gladly take a lie detector test to prove we are right!"

The judge explained that they don't use lie detectors in small claims court. Finally she got everybody to shut up, and she said the girl should be given her money, and she made everybody leave. I was surprised to see that there were no cameras trailing after the rumpled party, since it felt like daytime television.

A few more cases went much more quickly. Each time a new case was called, my stomach lurched, I was so nervous. I had my notes clutched in my sweating hands, and I tensely surveyed the courtroom. Finally, it was my turn.

I approached the bench, and the judge told me that the police officer who had issued me the ticket had not show up. The ticket was dismissed, and I was free to go.

Just like that! All that tension and worry for nothing! At least I got to watch the mullet-drama, so the morning wasn't completely wasted.