All Rise

“I carry my crucifix
Under my death list
Forward my mail to me in hell
Liars and the martyrs
Lost faith in The Father
Long lost in the wishing well”

– Motley Crue, Wildside

Being a news junkie, a movie lover and an avid reader, I’m well aware that the world is fucked up. I don’t travel through existence with blinders on, staring at the world through rose-colored glasses, seeing only pink horses.

Most of you know what I do for a living.  I sit in a courtroom all day.  I watch as people of every race are called before a judge.  Some are there for speeding. Some drove while intoxicated. Some stole baby formula from Stop & Shop. And yes, some raped and killed. This is America after all.

Sitting in court you never get the full story. You hear buzz words that tip you off that someone did bad. Did really bad.

Some of those buzz words are “assault”, “restraint”, “risk of injury”.

The buzz words get your attention. Then you listen as the bonds are called. More than likely, when the judge orders a high bond (anything over $50K) that means we have a bad person on our hands.

Usually the court appearances are brief. Unless it’s a trial, the accused may only stand before a judge for 3-5 minutes before the case is continued. However, if I’ve heard the buzz words I put a star next to their name in my little notebook.

At the end of the day I take the list of names to the court clerk and ask to see the files.

The files are free and open to the public. Any joe-schmo off the street can walk into any court room in America and ask to see a file.

The files contain the details. And the devil is in the details.

The most important thing in any file is the arrest warrant. And believe me, when cops are putting together an arrest warrant, no detail is spared.

If some guy beat another guy to death with a baseball bat and then sodomized him with it, well, that’s in there.

Today I had to read a file about a man from El Salvador who allegedly molested a family friend when she was eight years old. I had to put the file down three times before I could get through it.

Like I said, when police are gathering evidence to be put before a judge as to obtain a warrant, nothing is spared.

At the end of the day when I was working on the story I had to ask my boss how specific I should get when listing the man’s alleged offenses.  It was no surprise to me that the most horrific details were left out. Seriously? Who wants to read that shit anyway?

Most of the time, I can simply write-up a file, insert name and file the story. I mean, come on! We all know the deal. Most crimes are all the same, day in day out. Same ole people doing the same ole shit, thinking the can get away with it. But they don’t.

I see the patterns too. Most people who commit crimes like burglary, do it because they are addicted to heroin. Most people who lose their license are alcoholics.  It’s just the way it goes. I’d say that pattern follows suit 90% of the time. If you don’t sell the drugs, you are the one robbing the house so you can sell the dvd player at the pawn shop in Hartford so you can score a few baggies. And, if booze is your thing, then driving is of no consequence. The first hour and half of each court day is spent on DUIs.

I’m used to that. The burglars and robbers, the drug dealers and the drunk drivers. They fill the courtroom everyday. Some go to jail, some don’t.

But it’s the brutal crimes that I can’t yet get used to. The rapists. The molesters. The child beaters. Those stick with me a little bit. And I’m sure there is some test study that can be done to prove my next point- but most people who are arrested for the brutal crimes are pretty scary looking.  Usually disheveled. Eyes wide as saucers. A blank expression on their face. Sometimes, as they are led out to the courtroom in shackles, they glance into the crowd. If their gaze finds me, (usually in the front row) I always look away. I admit it. I’m not brave enough to make eye contact.

Okay. That’s enough. Time to put on the rose-colored glasses and watch 30 Rock.


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