Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Traffic Court

Today I got to go to traffic court as a result of the ticket I received in August. (See:

Okay, first of all, why didn't I know that this was really court? As in "All rise for the honorable..." type court. Couldn't someone have told me what I was getting myself into? I had been thinking that I would go to some place like the DMV, wait for my turn, explain my situation, and be cleared of any wrong-doing. Oh no, it wasn't like that at all...

Grace, Roman and I got to the justice building early. We passed through the security check point with flying colors. The guy behind the x-ray machine said, "It looks like you know the drill, you must have been here before." No, I have not been to the justice building before. I am not a criminal, thank you very much.

So next we headed upstairs. The letter I had said that I should go to department one at 1:00. When we got to the right floor I looked around and had no idea what I should be doing. There was a line of people with numbers waiting to talk to people at windows just like at the DMV. This looked just like what I imagined I was supposed to be doing. So I went and took a number before looking around some more. Then I saw a courtroom with a sign that said department one. A courtroom?? Oh no! So I walked over and looked at a sign posted outside the door. Yep, my name was listed right there. I went and sat down outside the courtroom. See, I was thinking that when it was time for my "appointment" someone would open the door and call me in. Kind of like a doctor's office. Again, I was so not prepared. Eventually, after I noticed a few people walk into the courtroom, I realized that I was supposed to go in and wait.

I dragged Grace, Roman, and my stroller in, and we found a place at the back. The room was full of people, and it was an actual courtroom, just like on tv only not so big. So not what I was expecting. Roman was excited. He kept yelling, "church!" We all had to rise while the honorable judge entered the room. They started having people come up to the front one at a time. Of course we were in alphabetical order and I was almost at the bottom of the list. So I sat there trying to keep Roman and Grace quiet. At one point a guy in uniform, (I don't know what to call him, bailiff maybe?) came and shushed my kids. It didn't really work though. Roman's a two-year-old boy, and not a very calm one either.

We sat there forever (it seemed). I got more and more nervous by the second. No, I really hadn't done anything wrong, but I wasn't sure if I had all of the right paperwork, and what was I supposed to say when it was my turn? Was I supposed to address the judge as "your honor"? I was completely out of my element. Anyway, the guy in uniform eventually kicked us out of the courtroom for being too noisy. He was nice about it though. He said he'd come get us when it was our turn. So we went back to sitting in the hall waiting for someone to call our name. Hey, wasn't this what I was doing before? That's also when I noticed the sign right on the courtroom door. It said, "No shorts, tank tops or halter tops allowed in the courtroom at anytime. No exceptions." Yeah, Grace was wearing shorts. Couldn't they have told us this before we got there? Are we just supposed to know?

So eventually it was my turn. I went in carrying Roman, and Grace hid in the back, ashamed of her shorts. I went to the front and the judge asked me how I plead. I said not guilty, and that was it. Next thing I know I'm in the hall waiting for someone to come talk to me. AGAIN. The public defender came out and asked me to explain the situation. (Couldn't we have just done this in the first place?) He said it happens all the time and asked me for a letter that the DMV sent to me. Ah ha! I knew I was missing something important! I didn't have it. It was in the car. And so now I have a trial date set for January so I can show them that letter. I really could have gone out to the car and brought the form back in, but that would have been too easy. At least now I know what paperwork I need.

As you may be able to guess, I am extremely frustrated. If at the beginning of this whole mess, when the DMV noticed that the VIN on my insurance didn't match the VIN on my registration, if they had maybe, I don't know, picked up the phone and called the insurance company and asked if maybe, just maybe, there had been some kind of mix up, then maybe we could have saved:
1. The time of the police officer who pulled me over and gave me the ticket.
2. Numerous pages of paper being printed and mailed from the DMV.
3. All of the paperwork going on at the DMV and in whatever department handles traffic citations. (You know there's tons.)
4. The time of the people working in the courtroom today.
5. The time of the people who will have to continue to be involved in this ongoing mess.
6. Not to mention my time and gas money for all this driving to and from court. I'm an innocent party in this, remember?

Okay, I do feel a little bit better now. :) By the way, it's really quite sad that this happened to me instead of Steve. Steve really would have loved it.


Meridy said...

I'm so sorry!!! Someone need to iron out that part of the system.

Can you send Steve next time?? ;)

Tyler said...

Wow! They threatened to revoke our car registration because the insurance company did not report to the dmv that we had insurance properly. We didn't have to go to court though. It's all a joke.

Allen Family said...

That stinks! Have Steve go with you next time. What a pain!

I feel bad that we will be in UT for Grace's party. Sorry we can't make it.

Emily said...

What a pain in the rear! I can't believe you've had to deal with such a lame-o mess. I hope it all gets fixed next time. I'm sure had you known what it was going to be like, you probably would have handled everything differently!

Kate said...

Deborah this is your best writing ever! So funny. I guess the frustration brings out your creative genius. And I have to say. . . Retards. (Them. Not you.)

Emily said...

yeah. what kind of system are our husbands getting into? i feel bad that you had to take your kids with you. if i had thought ahead, i should have offered to babysit. next time, you go (poor girl) drop them off or i'll come to them.

Jaime said...

What a disaster! I would of been angry and frustrated too! Hope the next round goes better! Good luck.

Kristi said...

You can't be serious? Our legal system cannot be that screwed - up really?

Becca said...

I've been to traffic court too, with Emily and Matt. It wasn't quite as bad as your experience (people were a little nicer about the kids) but I definitely 'feel your pain.' Sorry you had to go through that. When I was waiting, there was a man with a very large lower midsection. Matt said, in a very loud voice (he was probably about 3) "Why does he have such a big bottom?"

HammondFam said...

What a crazy day! When I told Tyler about this, he said there wasn't anything he could do to help because he thought it was a DMV issue. I know what it is like to go to court though...yuck! I got a ticket a few years back, and Tyler defended me in my "not guilty" plea. We won, but it wasn't easy, and the city attorney was a complete JERK!! I will ask Tyler if he has any advice for you to make the process easier for next time. BTW, if you need someone to watch Grace and Roman next time, I would be glad to help. But, I actually think bringing your kids is a nice wholesome touch in front of the judge! :)