I went to court today. I pleaded NOT GUILTY. I’m fairly certain i was the only one in the room who was genuinely NOT GUILTY. It all began last summer…
(I don’t know that guy, but i just spent 20 minutes looking for that Wayne’s World clip and that’s the best i could come up with)
I was stopped for my annual expired tag ticket. Of THAT, i was guilty as charged. But the officer informed me that i was going to ALSO receive a ticket for have a suspended license due to a lapse in insurance. Now, i suck at paying bills. Sincerely. However, i was sure that i still had insurance. Once i arrived home from being ticketed, i phoned the insurance company. Yep, i have insurance. They said to call the DMV. The DMV then says that the insurance company sent them an email that i didn’t have insurance. I call the insurance company. I call the DMV. I call the insurance company. I call the DMV. I call the insurance company. I call the DMV. I call the insurance company and they send a form to the DMV that i would imagine pretty much says, “You fucked up. Fix it.”
The issue was resolved. In September, i appeared in traffic court with all of my updated info. The DA takes a look and immediately dismisses the case. All is once again right in the world.
Last month, i was driving in Cabarrus County when an officer stops me and says, “Ma’am, your tag is flagged as a vehicle owner whose license has been revoked.” I explained that i thought the issue had been resolved. He was very kind, but said he still had to give me the ticket and i would be forced to hand over my license. I call the DMV. My exact words are unimportant, but i’m sure my tone very clearly relayed a message of ill will toward the DMV and all of their kin folk. They inform me that my license was revoked due to failure to appear in traffic court. Oh… you mean the traffic court that I JUST WENT TO??? They suggested i call the Charlotte Courthouse. At this point, i was sure that i was about to relive the DMV debacle . The courthouse, however, was DELIGHTFUL. After checking in their system, they admitted that it was their error. They immediately updated my driving status and i was able to get a new license the very next day, but i still had to appear in court in order to have it dismissed.
Fast forward to the present. (sorry… i don’t have a sound clip for that)
I’ve never been to REAL COURT before. No one told me, “Hey, don’t sit over to the left, because then you’ll be directly behind the guys in orange scrubs with chains around their ankles.” I sat to the left. I would have appreciated that warning.
Some of you probably know this drill, but i was winging it. Following the example of all those called before me, i responded to my name with “Not guilty. No attorney.” Well, that wasn’t so bad. We are then told to approach the clerk desk when our name is called. I was the third person called. I was sandwiched in between “Possession of a concealed weapon” and “Possession of heroine with intention to sell”. Everyone before me pled guilty, so i didn’t really have a reference for my situation. The judge, in her black robe and string of pearls, says,
“Carrie Cranford you are charged with driving with a revoked license. How do you plead?”
“Do you wish to be assigned an attorney, or will you be representing yourself?”
“Well, i just…”
“DO NOT TALK TO ME ABOUT YOUR CASE, MISS CRANFORD!”
“DO YOU WISH TO BE ASSIGNED AN ATTORNEY, OR WILL YOU BE REPRESENTING YOURSELF!?”
“…i’ll… be representing myself.”
….and trying not to cry. How was i supposed to know that wasn’t the time to show my papers? There were no instructions, there was no tour guide, and that man at the desk downstairs was sure as hell no concierge. A little information would be helpful.
The clerk then had me place my hand on the Bible and my actual thought was “WE’RE STILL DOING THIS?!” I’m repulsed by using the Bible as a tool to threaten with, which is exactly what that tradition is. It’s ridiculous and just one of the many examples of how our court system is living in the Dark Ages. But i did it.
I got to sit back down for another half hour. During this time, i was able to make many important observations.
1- The heroine business is HOPPIN’ in Cabarrus County.
2- The man in the painting behind the judge looks very familiar. For fear of being charged with “Possession of a concealed phone”, i fought the urge to try and sneak a pic, but here is an artist’s rendering of the painting:
3- I had a revelation. I’ve been here before. That one time in the 6th grade when my “Academically Gifted” class was studying law. Obviously, i retained that like a charm.
4- You shouldn’t steal a high chair from McDonalds. That take you to court for that shit.
5- Anorexic people shouldn’t drink alcohol. Maybe your blood alcohol level would not have crossed the limit if you had topped it off with a burger.
Long story short (too late), I finally got to show the DA my paperwork. I had to wait for someone to run downstairs and check the record to make sure “there was no alcohol involved”. Although, i can’t say for a fact that “there was no alcohol involved”. For all i know, the clerks over at the Charlotte courthouse were noshin’ it up on some bourbon balls behind that glass divider when they screwed up my criminal record. When the DA’s lackey returned, they called my name for the fourth time. The young DA looks at me as though instructing a 6 year old and says,
“I’m going to dismiss this case since you do have a clean record. Know that that is the reason that this is being dismissed.”
Um, if i had a previous record, would she have allowed me to be sentenced to a year of probation because of a courthouse error? And would that judge have let that happen? Because i felt like that’s pretty much what she said to me and that’s absolutely despicable.