I arrived fifteen minutes early. There was no parking so I drove across the street, parked in my sons' former pediatrician's lot, then ran across the road, technically jaywalking, as there was no pedestrian walkway in sight. Seeing that one-third of the people waiting were lawyers made me nervous, so when my name was called to see if I was there and wanted to speak with the prosecutor first, I said yes. He turned out to be pleasant and after hearing my quick story, said he'd recommend a dismissal to the judge. I felt somewhat better, but still sat at the very back of the court room, against the wall.
The judge entered and after we all rose then sat, he spoke for ten minutes about the process, then he left. We were told the judge had to perform two weddings first and two young couples got up. They needed a Spanish interpreter, but in under 5 minutes, both weddings were over. It was very noticeable that one of the new brides was pregnant; they were smiling, so I smiled back and clapped for them. No one else clapped, a tough crowd. A woman in front of me made a derogatory remark.
The first four cases involved lawyers and requests for additional time, then came the interesting stuff. One young man was called up with his lawyer father, cited with jaywalking. Then the prosecutor told the judge there was another defendant, also cited with jaywalking. He was called up front. Then, I swear I'm not making this up, the prosecutor told the judge there was a third jaywalker, with an additional vehicular charge. (The guy next to me nudged me and said, " if you walk across the street in this town with someone, make sure the guy's name isn't Jay Walker." I thought it was quick thinking and pretty funny considering the circumstances.) The judge asked what the other charge was, something to the effect of obstructed view, so I was guessing maybe tinted windows? The young man said, " It was frost on my windshield, Your Honor." The judge shook his white head and said, "I'm dismissing all the charges; this is ridiculous."
The next case involved a man who had a bi-lingual lawyer, but needed the interpreter as well. He was charged with public intoxication, possessing an open alcohol container, and the more serious charge of urinating in public. His lawyer entered a plea of guilty for the first two, if the third offense would be dropped. The judge asked him for a statement. The man was contrite, ashamed, and probably afraid. It was no act, and I couldn't even see his face. He said he had felt lost and alone and made a bad choice. In Spanish, then interpreted. There was something heartbreaking about it. They set up his fine payment and my name was called.
The judge looked at me and asked if I was moeyz and what my address was. I answered him. The prosecutor was standing next to me when the judge asked why I was in court. "Moeyz is here today for the heinous crime of overnight parking during the holiday season, Your Honor." The judge asked how long I'd lived in the town and if I was aware of the overnight parking prohibition. I said yes, but that the summons stated two differing penalties and when I called the court, was told I needed to appear.
He paused and I thought he's been lenient too long; he's going to make an example out of me. Instead he asked the court clerk to get his reading glasses from his jacket pocket in another room. After putting his glasses on, he read the summons and said, "The car in question is a 1990?" I said yes, to which he responded, "You're lucky you didn't get cited for....something about junk and public nuisance." When I told him I kept the car in decent shape, he laughed and said the magic words, "Case dismissed!" Then I jaywalked back to my car and drove home.
the back story:
Amidst the chaos and calm of the recent holidays, I woke on December 28th to find a ticket on my car, which was parked right in front of my house. There exists a No Overnight Parking ban on any borough streets from November 15th to April 1st ordinance, specifically for the hours of 2am to 6am. That's what the officer wrote under OFFENSE. But the Ordinance Code No. was for parking on snow covered streets and hindering snow removal, so I was confused. Being the stickler for certain details that I am, I called the Town Hall and asked about the discrepancy. I was told I would have to enter a plea of not guilty, go to court and tell the judge my story. I admit to feeling torn about this advice because I WAS guilty of parking overnight on the road, but there was no snow, and the ticket was written at 5:20am. Plus if the officer had taken 30 seconds to check, he would have seen the car was registered to me, parked in front of my house.