Monday, July 14, 2014

Courthouse lock-down


Several years ago, I made the mistake of agreeing to appear for a colleague at a dependency hearing.  My client was the mother, mid-twenties, a bit unstable, some drugs, who was at risk of losing both of her children [different fathers, neither of which lived with her], especially since she had missed a few court-mandated counseling sessions.

My client brought her two children with her, along with her mother.  I felt bad for her mother, she was a grandma faced, through no fault of her own, with the prospect of losing her grandchildren.

The commissioner's name was familiar to me, and after about ten minutes of staring at her, I finally realized she was the adjunct professor who had taught my criminal law class many years prior.  She had been a STRONG proponent of the Socratic method, which meant she wasn't very popular with her students.

In the middle of the hearing just before mine, the alarm sounded.  WOP WOP WOP.  Loud and obnoxious.  Accompanied by flashing lights

We all gathered our files and turned to leave, but a Sheriff deputy positioned himself at the exit door and told us to remain in the courtroom.  So we all sat down again, curious why the alarm still sounded but we were specifically NOT allowed to leave.

WOP WOP WOP

About ten minutes later, we were informed that a man in the parking lot was threatening to shoot and/or blow up a car or two.

WOP WOP WOP

So, knowing we were stuck in court for the immediate future, the commissioner decided to continue with her calendar.

I shouted my entire hearing with WOP WOP WOP in the background.  I did succeed in obtaining an additional 30 days for my client to show efforts to keep custody of her children by completing her counseling sessions.  So something good came of this.

We were stuck in that courtroom for 45 minutes.  I heard WOP WOP WOP all day long and in my dreams for the next three days.

I've never again agreed to help a colleague in Dependency court.  It's the saddest courthouse I've ever been in.  I have a new appreciation for those judges, attorneys, and court staff who work there every day.


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