Today, Steve and I had to spend some times in small claims court, thanks to a former customer of his that has gone off the deep end two years after the job was done. Anyway, I made a few observations while I sat in the back row of the courtroom as we waited for the judge to call the case.
I thought that we would only hear cases that involved small claims issues; one defendant, one plaintiff, no attorneys to muck it up, arguing over things like who side of the fence a tree fell on. What we heard were cases for temporary restraining orders, evictions, mortgage issues, and a few attorneys–mucking it up. For the most part it was average “joe’s” who wanted satisfaction and believed they would find it in the halls of justice.
The other preconceived image I had before walking into court was the notion that people, in general, actually understand what it means to be in a courtroom. It’s not your living room, kitchen table, or a coffee shop; where you can speak as loud as you like, show attitude to the officer stationed at the front of the room, keep your baseball hat on, or lounge in the back row as if you’re on your living room sofa. I mean really, the number of young men in the room who didn’t even have the courtesy of pulling their pants up over their bums as they approached the bench! Honestly, I was appalled by what I saw and heard.
The bright spot in the experience for me was the judge. On the door outside courtroom 2-D was an associate judge’s name, but that is not who was introduced when “order in the court” was called. I looked up the judge’s name when we got home; I was surprised to find it was actually the Chief Judge of the District Court.
My only other court room experience having been in family court when we were fighting for custody of our grandchildren, would not have led me to believe a judge would actually take the time to “educate” the people in front of her. She was patient, clear in her words and her wish to understand any and all pieces of the puzzles that she was being asked to put together. Although our case was continued, due to the plaintiff not being ready; I want to thank the judge. The care, consideration, and comprehensive approach she took with each case was truly admirable. (I hope she’s there when we go back in two weeks!)