Well, here’s another day I thought for sure I would go to trial, and here’s another day that I’ve been completely disappointed. Yes, the trial has been delayed again, and the only two people who were surprised were me and the judge.
I was grateful for the extra hour of sleep I’d gotten. Court was at 9:30 today, and when I arrived, I was surprised by the backed up line to go through the metal detector. Why? Someone in their infinite wisdom decided to close down one of the machines. We were packed almost all the way to the door.
As I pulled everything out of my pockets and balanced it all on my legal folder, I heard someone say my name behind me. I turned to find my cousin, Keli. She, like myself and many other members of my family, has had a few run-ins with the law in the past, and I wondered what she was in for. As it turns out, she was called for jury duty. As we made our way through the line, we quickly discussed my case. I told her about the violation of my Fourth Amendment rights, and I also told her about my feeling that the State of Illinois wanted to make an example out of me, especially since they need the money they’d get if they found me guilty. She wished me luck, and on the other side of the metal detector, we went our separate ways.
Once again, they asked me to remove my belt. I don’t know how the rest of you feel about this, but every time I unbuckle my belt in public, I feel like a pervert. Even as I buckle it back on, it makes me feel a bit slimy.
Still, the down escalators were not working. The up was, so I rode up to the top floor, to my courtroom. Once again, it was not crowded in the slightest. Maybe ten people were in there, tops.
The first thing I noticed was the judge; he was in a good mood. Jovial, in fact. As people were called, and they neglected to say HERE, he joked with them about it. This is unheard of in Ferguson’s court. Maybe this was a good sign. Maybe he would treat me fairly, after all.
I sat down and went into people-watching mode. There wasn’t a lot of weird shit to mention this time, although one woman went up to the judge with her hat on, and the bailiff did not ask her to remove it.
I did notice one thing this time. The thought had probably occurred to me before, but this was the first time it coalesced in my head. No one was ever found not guilty. Each and every defendant went away with a guilty verdict and sentence. To the best of my knowledge, no one ever plead not guilty, either.
Has anyone ever pled not guilty on a DUI? Am I the only one willing to roll the dice?
The arresting officer showed up, glanced toward me, and sat down. His foot immediately started tapping away, and I wondered if he had restless leg syndrome. Or was he nervous? For some reason, he kept looking over at me. I pretended not to notice. My entire body was still, and although I felt my guts churning nervously, I did not let any of it show. My hands remained motionless in my lap.
Center stage, the judge let a guy go with 90 days court supervision on a charge of driving without a license. He also warned the defendant that if he gets caught driving a car again, he will be sent to jail.
The bailiff brought out a guy in a jumpsuit and chains. I don’t remember the guy’s name, but he left quite the impression. You see, he’s enrolled in classes at COD, and he has every intention of becoming a psychologist. The problem? He was in for drug charges. I think it was for cannabis, but it was never specified. The judge started giving this guy the third degree until he confessed to wanting to be a psychologist.
“If you were the State of Illinois, would you hire someone with a drug conviction?” the judge asked.
I know what answer he was looking for, but the humanitarian in me thought I would definitely give such a job applicant a chance. What if the guy is trying to become a better person? What if that was the kind of thing he did in the past and no longer wanted to do? What if he just wanted to leave all of that crap behind? What if . . . .?
The defendant wasn’t smart enough to come up with these responses, and I felt bad for him. Because the judge had a definite black-and-white view of things, and shortly afterward, he sentenced the guy to more time in DuPage lock-up.
And then, the judge ran out of things to do. He took a break, and everyone scattered. I pulled out my book and started to read. Elmore Leonard’s RIDING THE RAP. If you thought FX’s show, JUSTIFIED, is awesome, you should read the books. Givens is even more interesting in paper format.
During the break, Don arrived, and he shot the shit with the other attorneys. Apparently, Don has been on Johnny B’s show several times, and he was discussing one of the cases he talked about on the radio, something about stolen Super Bowl tickets.
(By the way, the woman with the hat ran into a snag no one else had, and I thought it would be of interest to note. She tried to get a public defender, but she didn’t qualify. So the judge asked her what she wanted to do today. Meaning, did she want to hire a lawyer? I guess she didn’t want to go through the effort, so she pled guilty. I wonder what it takes to NOT be able to get a P.D. What if you can’t hire a real lawyer? I’m sure you can defend yourself, but what good is that going to do?)
The judge returned, and before long, I was called. Dutifully, I called HERE and approached the bench. Right off the bat, the prosecution told Ferguson that she and Don had discussed an issue the previous day. Apparently, since we were challenging the roadblock stop, we needed not only the arresting officer but also his superior. And guess who wasn’t in court that day? The sergeant was stuck doing some kind of training thing.
Which, if you ask me, is bullshit. Imagine if I told the court that I couldn’t show up for my date because I had some kind of training thing to do with my job. Would that have been tolerated? And how hard must it be to get out of training . . . TO GO TO COURT? What kind of hard-ass must the chief of police in Lisle be to not let one of his officers go to testify in court because they had to go to training?
The judge seemed to agree with my point of view. “This thing’s been kicking around for too long,” he said. “We’re rescheduling for April 26th at 9:30 am. There will be no training on that day, and no one is taking a vacation. Is that understood?”
Ferguson looked at the officer. “You will let your chief know, right?”
“Yes, your honor.”
“This has to be wrapped up. Your chief is in charge of when training has to be scheduled, am I right?”
“Make sure your supervisor is in court with you on April 26th. No excuses.”
Don then interjected, “Your honor, I just want you to be aware that since we’re challenging the roadblock, there are a lot of unusual circumstances that need to be discussed, and not all has to do with the motion to quash. It’s more complicated than it looks.”
“I’m aware of that.”
“We also appealed the summary suspension to the Illinois Supreme Court.”
“Noted. Until next time.”
Don told me to wait outside, and as I left the courtroom, I wondered about that appeal he’d just mentioned. That was news to me. I guess the appellate court didn’t go for the motion to reconsider.
Outside, Don told me that they’d just sent the appeal to the state’s supreme court, but he warned me that they might choose not to hear the case. “It’s a one-in-fifty shot,” he said. I decided not to ask what he thought the chances of them overturning the appellate court’s decision were.
He then presented me with a bill for $25. I’m not sure, but I think that’s what the filing fee was for the IL Supreme Court. If so, it’s cheaper than the appellate court by $125.
We then went our separate ways. This time, the elevators actually worked, and on my way down, I considered what had just happened. There is no possible way that I won’t go to trial next time. I know I’ve said that before, but this time, it really seems like the end of the line. The judge is getting fed up. He wants this case behind him.
I know I’ll be there next time. Will both of the officers be there, too? What if one of them isn’t? Would the judge be so annoyed with everyone involved that he’d dismiss the case? Maybe that’s wishful thinking, but these days, it seems like wishful thinking is all I have.
TO BE CONTINUED TOMORROW!