That’s right folks! The two tickets I received back in January were thrown out after a rather intimidating court experience.
So, I got up early Wednesday morning, dressed in a really nice suit, gathered the “evidence” needed to prove my innocence and headed over to Judicial Annex in Lawrenceville. The place was pretty empty and I spoke to a clerk right away. She informed me that traffic court didn’t convene until 1pm, so I headed home.
About 12:30, I go out there again, only this time, there’s a really long line. When I finally get to the clerk, I’m told to go upstairs to courtroom C. Upon finding the right place, I open the door to a small-sized courtroom. Taking a seat in one of the pews, I wait to be called.
Before the judge arrived, this short lady with short brown hair verified the charges to be heard for the day. She looked and acted like a district attorney, but I’m not sure if that was her official title. In addition to verifying the charges, she also tried to guage how long each hearing would last. The right to privacy in traffic courtroom must be slim, because I was able to hear all the charges levied against the people sitting around me. Frankly, it made me a little nervous. DUIs, driving without licenses and driving without insurance were just a few of them. Surely, me and my piddly charge were in the wrong courtroom I thought, but no such luck. Immediately the DA (let’s call her that for now) tries to get me to plead guilty to my charges. I tell her my defense. She tells me that it won’t hold up against the law. Seeing the defeated look on my face, the DA suggests that I stay and talk to the judge anyway.
The judge finally arrives. The major cases are up first. Each verdict handed down makes me more and more tense. The first DUI defendant gets a hefty fine, probation, and house arrest for 30 days. The first driving-without-license defendant gets a hefty fine as well. The third defendant doesn’t even show up and a bench warrant is issued for his arrest. (I forget what he did, but whatever it is, it requires a mandatory court appearance.)
“Tyrese Howard!” the bailiff bellows. I get up from my seat and take my position in front of judge, my little manila folder tucked under my arm. The DA reads the charges and tells the judge that my defense is that I’m a student (which works for the violation I was charged with). The judge gives me a reproachful look and I immediately claim that I have proof. She asks to see it and I hand my folder to the bailiff, who gives it to the DA, who gives it to the judge. She looks through the documents and asks me a few questions about the date when I started school (which she mistakenly thought was January due to the switch). After clarifying, there’s an uncomfortable silence. I nervously put my hands in my pocket and immediately receive this light tap on my shoulder. It’s the bailiff. He whispers to me to leave my hands by my side where he can see them. More uncomfortable silence. Panic courses through my body, causing my hands involuntarily hide in my pockets once again. I quickly take them out after receiving a look from the bailiff.
After what seems like an eternity, the judge says dismissed and tells me I’m free to go. I’m so stunned I’m unable move until the DA hands me back my documents. I high tail it out there after that. Halfway down the stairs, I realize that I haven’t clue what just happened. I go back to the clerk for verification. She gives me this “duh” look and says, “Yes sir. You’re free to go.”
Now that the whole ordeal is over, I’m making an effort to drive much more carefully because I never want to step foot inside a courtroom again that unless I’m on the jury.