Saturday, April 17, 2010

Just What Was I Supposed To Do?

I was in court Thursday, proceeding to enter my first plea when the Judge handed the court officer the affidavit of complaint for my client to sign the 3rd page, which has to be done no matter what is occurring in the case. What made this different is that the Judge required my client to sign in 2 different places. I knew this wasn't right so when the court officer handed the sheet of paper to my client, I glanced to see where the Judge had indicated for my client to sign & this is what the Judge had done: he had marked for my client to sign that she waived her right to a preliminary hearing & bound her case over the to the grand jury & that she was entering a plea of guilty. The problem is: you can't do both!!! This Judge is no spring chicken people - he should know how to fill out a judgment sheet.

So, I asked the Judge if my client should be signing in both places. The Judge responded by saying something to the effect of: "Of course she is. She's entering a plea & I'm going to find her guilty, so what exactly is your question Counselor?"

Uh-oh. This isn't good. You cannot enter a plea of guilty on the same day that you waive your right to a preliminary hearing & bind your case over to a grand jury (or have a preliminary hearing & bind your case over). But, this Judge has a beef with me. I just haven't figured out exactly what. I have a theory though - age & gender.

So, I respond to the Judge by saying: "If Your Honor indicates that is the correct way my client is to sign the Judgment sheet, then I don't have a question."

To which the Judge responds: "Well, it is."

Her plea is entered & we proceed to enter the rest of my pleas that I have ready & for all of those, the Judgment sheets are also filled out incorrectly. But, I had already called the Judge's attention to it & got nowhere so I let it go. Once I had my pleas entered, I left the courtroom & found a few other attorneys & told them what had happened. The consensus was that I had done the right thing in pointing it out to the Judge but once he 'overruled' me, there was nothing else I could do. I also let the DA know what had happened but the DA that I work the best with wasn't there. I will let him know what happened the next time I see him if he hadn't heard about it by then. I just want everyone to know (& I want to be sure) that I did what I was supposed to do.

And as if that wasn't enough -
It was 5:25 pm. The Judge had waited until 5:00 pm to call up the jail docket. I had 1 client left & he had to have a hearing. The only people left in the courtroom were pro-se litigants. I was standing beside the bench, which is where we attorneys stand to let the Judge know that we have something ready for disposition. Instead of acknowledging me & letting me dispose of my case, the Judge kept dealing with the pro-se litigants. Every time he would pause, I would move a little or stand up or sit down or something to call his attention to me (because I knew I needed to leave!!!). After about 5 minutes, the Judge looked at me and said: "Crystal, I will get to you in a minute, young lady."
I turned around & told Steve (the other Public Defender) that I had to leave for school, handed my last case to him, & left. By the time I got back to the office, unloaded my files from court & actually got to my car it was 5:45 pm. Thanks to traffic on I440, I made it with 5 minutes to spare.

I have to say, there is nothing like pissing off a Judge but knowing that you haven't done enough for him to hold you in contempt.


  1. The trick is to figure out just what it is that you can do to make this judge more comfortable with you being in his courtroom so he'll be a bit nicer to you. Perhaps a kind note... or a box of cigars. LOL