Thursday, March 8, 2012

on a brighter note

Dad seemed better tonight.

I called the Justice Court a couple of weeks ago to find out how to pay my ticket. My five-miles-over the speed limit ticket. Ninety bucks. That's $90. Just less then $100. Who makes these laws?

I asked if there was any way to reduce the fine. The clerk said the judge might let me perform community service. For $10 per hour. Really? Nine hours? I mean, I know, community service is valuable and a good thing and all, but nine hours means a lot more to me right now than $90. That was my initial reaction but I kept it safely tucked inside my head. I told her that probably wouldn't work for me since I work full time and attend school full time.

She said sometimes the judge gives credit for good grades.

Then she said, "You're not in high school, right?" Uh, no, not in high school. She suggested I come in and talk to the judge.

I hesitated. Really? Do I need to see one more adult male roll his eyes when I ask for the student discount? (Maybe I haven't posted that story--the one where Jack asked me to go with him to buy something so he could get a student discount and then thought it was hilarious when I asked for it and was mocked with eye-rolling disbelief by the 60ish-year-old salesman? I won't be shopping at that place again.)

The clerk assured me it was all good. So I made an appointment to see the judge.

After filling out forms, after sitting through the video that described my rights and my choices about waiving those rights, after having my purse searched, after being wanded, I was allowed to go sit in the courtroom.

I felt like a total criminal sitting there with that kid who drove without a license ($195 fine) and the guy who parked in his own driveway and got a parking ticket (reduced to $10 because the judge agreed it was a crazy law but he couldn't change it).

I listened as the judge sentenced my fellow speeders--four of us were cited from the same two-block stretch of road. Three of four were in the five-mile-over club. The other one was cited for 56 in a 40 on that same road (he looked fast just standing there). He asked if he could obtain a plea in abeyance--which it seems you can buy for an extra $75 if you want to keep the points off your record--but apparently that is not an option if you have too many other tickets.

When it was my turn, the judge asked if I had watched the video (yessir) and did I understand my rights (yessir). How did I plead? Guilty, sir. Had anybody talked to me about a plea in abeyance? No sir, but I heard you describe it to the others (my fellow criminals) and since this was my first speeding ticket, I didn't think I needed to worry about points.

Was I ready to pay my fine? Yessir. Although his clerk had told me he sometimes reduced the fine for good grades.

He said he reduces the fine for improved grades so I would need to complete another semester after this one, show improvement, and report back to him.

Oh, sir, I guess that won't work for me since this is my last semester in college.

Then came the part that was like being in a movie:

[Judge looks down while writing something.] [In a casual tone] What are you studying?

[Pause. Pause.] [Judge looks up.]

[Looking directly at him.]

"Legal Studies."

He smiles. The court reporter smiles. The bailiff smiles. The court clerk smiles and may have given me a thumbs-up. (Or probably not.)

There is applause in the courtroom. (Maybe not.)

A chorus of angels from Glee begins singing. (In my head.)

How soon can you provide a copy of your diploma to me?

Graduation is April 26 and 27, I think it takes six weeks for the school to mail out the diplomas.

Tell you what. If you'll send me a copy of your diploma by June 15, I'll waive your fine. Okay?

Thank you, sir.

Go ahead and roll your eyes at that Mr. Smartypants salesman.


Lisa B. said...

this story is sweet! just what I needed. yay you! you and your good grades and your fortuitous field of study. well done.

Amelia said...

Woo hoo! For the Win!

Anonymous said...

This is SO wrong, sis. Because you're going into a similar profession, they WAIVE the fine??? Sounds like the woman I worked with who had a cop husband. Got pulled over for cutting across an empty parking lot; got a ticket..."How DARE he!!!"...we laughed...but the judge waived it, after she provided proof of cop husband. Call me a fool...but I just don't get it.

Joey said...

There is no justice...not in this life. I never have been able to get out of a ticket. Do you remember when you got pulled over that one time on State Street and the guys who were tailing us drove really fast past the cop and he was almost knocked over by the car's momentum. He let you out of the ticket. Of course, he was shaking at the time and said that was one of his worst fears..getting killed on a traffic stop. But, yes, you got out of the ticket that time, too.