Criminal Court isn’t so bad.
Well, to be fair, I wasn’t at Criminal Court.
I was sitting in the trial hearing room where offenders are arraigned for their crimes.
It was rather fascinating, actually.
As my dad put it, you’re bored but at the same time you kind of can’t turn away.
We had been sitting in the courtroom (trial hearing room?) for about 7-9 hours at this point.
We had been told for about 5 of those hours alternately that my sister was coming soon or that she was still at the precinct; two things obviously at odds.
But at least it provided some interesting insight in to the legal system.
Of the cases heard about 20-50% were dismissed immediately with a sentence of “Time Served” or “ACD” or Adjourned Considering Dismissal, meaning that you were put on a sort of probation where your case would be considered dismissed as long as you didn’t get arrested for 6 months.
Offenses that fell into these two categories included: minor drug offenses, getting caught with a joint, throwing rocks at a window, “disorderly conduct” which can mean any number of things not serious.
Other cases which were more interesting were the “orders of protection”, which was also a large percentage of cases heard. An order of protection means that you can’t contact in any way the person who takes out the order against you, or face arrest. They were most often taken out against a boyfriend or girlfriend who was menacing, though sometimes against a landlord.
Since these were interesting, two stories:
The first was of a man who had a felony conviction, twenty years prior, a B&E that he had long sinced passed. He was a personal trainer residing in Brooklyn. One night, driving down at Atlantic with his wife and kids, a car rear-ended him hard at a stoplight. Considering that his young children were sitting in the back seat, he got out of the car to check on them. As he got out of the car, the driver of the car who rear-ended him got out too. The driver tried talk to the trainer who yelled at him that he didn’t have time to deal with this, that his kids might be hurt. In a panic over the trainer’s size and anger, the driver gave him his wallet assuming he was being mugged and drove off. The trainer, not wanting to deal with this shit, took his children to the hospital. They checked out fine, they were startled but nothing more. The trainer’s car was dented though and he still had the man’s wallet. As any normal person would do, after he took his children home, he went to his local precinct to turn in the wallet, which was recovered with all items intact–money included, only to be arrested. It turns out the man who had thought he was being mugged had gotten to the precinct first and had told a story of being mugged and threatened by an angry driver who he had gotten into an accident with.
The judge heard all of this and issued the order of protection on behalf of the wallet-owner, if for nothing else than to keep the peace, but made a provision so the trainer could contact him in a civil suit so at least the guy could pay for his car. He was released and the case dismissed.
The second story is shorter, but more colorful. A man came in on domestic disturbance charge who was also wanted for an order of protection. His girlfriend with whom he shares a child and lives with was lying with him in bed. At night, he started nudging her and beginning foreplay. She wasn’t having any of that and wanted to sleep. The man continued until she slapped him and told him to go to bed. At this point, he got out of bed, whipped out his cock and started peeing on her as he berated her, calling her a bitch and a “pee-on ho”. After some more threats, apparently the cops were called and the man arrested.
The judge heard all of this, issued the order of protection and denied him the ability to get his belongings back from her house, but that he could still see his son if he wanted.
After a long day at the courthouse, I had seen many cases. I had also spoken to a lot of people. My sister’s name was on the list to be arraigned, as it had been for many hours. My father, my mother and I had been speaking to people at the courts, at the precinct where she was arrested, at the precinct to be transfered to… We didn’t know what would we do once she was out, if she got out. For me, I just wanted to get out of the courthouse with my dad and I intact, hopefully in time to get drunk enough to forget this.
After a lot of phone calls, we heard she was at Central Booking, the same building as we were, and I went up to a cop to ask about her.
“Let me guess: Seth Rogen.” he said.
I guess no matter where I go get that.
“I guess you get that a lot.” He told me after I assumed an awkwardly embarrassed pose of denial.
“Better than Jonah Hill,” I replied. “When people call me that I just feel fat.”
“Well I wouldn’t be too offended by that one either.” He said kindly.
I asked about my sister and he told me that he’d seen me there all day and went to check the logs for her. He told me she’d been seen before dinner break.
“I told her Seth Rogen had been waiting for her all day.”
I thanked him and soon she was up.
She was tried side-by-side with her boyfriend, smiling in a faux-fur coat, her boyfriend’s blond-greasy mohawk drooping to the side as if out of batteries.
The judge, a woman, was hard on her and the ADA was asking for 500 dollars bail, a sum I was not sure my father was willing to pay. We hadn’t hired a lawyer as part of sending a message to her. Not paying bail would be pushing that theory to a place that would be harder to go.
Even though my sister was delinquent on a previous charge for which she hadn’t done community service, the judge gave her a stern talking to, assigned her more community service and deigned her ROR (Released on your own Reconnaissance) until her trial-date for third-degree-assault, a misdemeanor.
The great disappointment of the evening her seeing boyfriend get off, the charges against him lessened, by claiming that even though he wasn’t a New York City resident that he was dependent on my sister and living at her parents’ house.
“That was fucked up. They tried to pick a fight with us.” My sister told us as we left the court room.
“Yeah, they started it.” Her boyfriend quipped.
“Shut the FUCKUP!” I yelled at him.
“You shut the fuck up!” My sister replied.
“I’m going to wait outside.” I told my father and did.
My sister was soon outside bumming cigarettes from the other recently arraigned.
Her boyfriend didn’t have a Metrocard so she tried to ask my father and I to pay for him which we both refused.
She went back up to the turnstiles and came down with him, claiming someone else had paid his fare.
My father politely told him at some point that he wasn’t welcome in their house, or as far as he was concerned, in his daughter’s life, to which he mutely nodded.
He gave my sister bus fare for him to go home when she left soon after arrival.
I drank with friends that night. The upshot, I guess, was that unlike most nights I didn’t have to do too much juggling to find many of my friends in one place.
Everything just sort of came together.
We drank– six packs. Went to a bar. Played an embarrassing game of pool.
There were girls. They were cute enough, I guess. One friend called them “thick”, but honestly I didn’t mind too much.
I remember one of them talking to me about one friend being “flawless” and another girl telling me about a song that was named for her.
To be honest, I had one beer, two, three last night too many and I’m glad for a lack of specifics.
I woke up with a hangover and eventually, a sandwich.