Monday, October 1, 2007

Night Court

A little over a month ago I had the pleasure of being pulled over by a police officer on the way to work and given a ticket for driving with an expired license. As soon as he pulled in behind me I knew I was going to get a ticket for something but I had no idea it would be for my tag. I never received the renewal notice this year, so naturally I didn't think anything about it. I'm not harping on the cop at all; he was just doing his job and it really is something I should have noticed (it had expired 3 months before). I went later that day, paid the $28 to have it renewed, and have been waiting until this afternoon for my court date.

Now it's been almost 20 years since I was last in court (for a speeding ticket) but have they changed the rules at some point? I was expecting to go into the courthouse, find my name on the court roster telling me where to go, and then sit in court waiting for my name to be called. That's what I had to do last time and I while I wasn't eager to sit there for hours or be there at all, I was kind of looking forward to watching the court process and hearing about other people's cases before I was called on. Instead I get there and am immediately herded into a line of at least 50-75 people that stretches around the "lobby" and through the snack room. Through the course of chit chatting with the other degenerates like myself in line I found out that for most minor infractions like expired plates, speeding tickets, and misdemeanor possession of marijuana, all you have to do is pay at the window and you're free to go. No sitting in the court room, no talking to a judge, just pay the city off and leave. There were lawyers standing near the front of the line helping people and instructing them where to go and what they would need to do before they made it to the window.

I understand how the courts should be reserved for bigger things and have no problem being able to get my ticket taken care of in 20-30 minutes instead of hours on end. All I had to do was show the lawyer my updated registration and I was free to go, I didn't even have to talk to anyone at the window. Hopefully that counts as "showing up for court" and I won't have the cops looking for me for failure to show.

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