Wednesday, September 1, 2010


Setting: Juvenile Court.  I don’t even remember what my case was about.

Bailiff: ALL RISE!!

We all stand up, I button my jacket, and the Judge walks in.

Weighing almost 400 pounds, he looms over the courtroom from his high perch, staring like an owl on a tall tree, surveying his territory.  He is not the large, jolly type.  I have never seen him smile.  This judge and courtroom hold a particular place in my memory.  Years ago, this was the very first courtroom I appeared in.  He was the first judge I ever addresed as an attorney.  These are facts which I am sure he neither remembers nor cares about.

We are in his world now.

On today's menu for him are a mother and her teenaged son.  The prosecutor reads out the charges.  They don't appear to be anything terribly serious, so I tune out and review my case folder one more time.

A cell phone rings out.

The courtroom goes deathly quiet, and my heart skips a beat.  I grab my phone and look at it.  It takes a moment or two to register in my mind that my phone is off.  The sound is coming from the direction of the Judge's bench.

I glance up.  The judge is leaning forward, staring holes into the teenager.  "Do you need to answer that, young man?"

"No, sir," the teenager says in a small voice.

"Well, it must be important, since you kept the phone on.  It might be an emergency.  Are you sure you don't want to answer it?"

"No, sir.  I'm sorry."

"Please, go ahead and answer it.  You've already interrupted my court.  We'll wait."

"No, thank you, sir."

It did not end well.


K. Erickson said...

I believe they call that a "sentence enhancer", don't they? But not in the English grammar way.

Lawyer said...

I'm telling you, I felt so bad for the poor kid and spent the rest of my time there looking at my phone to make sure it was still set to vibrate.