Tuesday, February 23, 2010

My first experience in traffic court

A client was going to traffic court today. That’s all I knew.

Then I got a call this morning from a client’s friend who apparently was taking the client to court. He was frantic, He had no idea where to park for traffic court. And he had no idea where traffic court was. And he begged me to meet them to go to court together.

Let me say this: I had no desire to go. Clients scare me. They have cooties.

Let me say this, part two: This is a relatively new client with what could be a fantastic case. And this is the traffic case related to the accident that we are representing him for.

Let me say this, part three: In 27 years of life, I have been to traffic court only once. When I was 16. Protesting a parking ticket.

But I went.

I got there before the client (it helps when your office is 5 minutes walking time from the Courthouse). The eye candy was damned near irresistible: two attorneys, real upstanding looking gents (read: scumbucket) yelling at each other about one trying to steal the others client. Outside. The. Courtroom.

I stood for a few minutes waiting outside the courtroom until I decided to go talk to the prosecuting attorney. “Hi there. I have no idea what I’m doing…” [This said to an attorney that looks about 10 years younger than me.] “…I have a copy of the police report and I am here on this case (I point to the Defendant’s name), I represent the victim. I’ll be honest, I’ve never been here before and I have no idea what I am to do with a complaining witness.” The kindly prosecuting manchild walked me through it: “The judge will call the case, you will say ‘here’ and we’ll hopefully get a plea out of the defendant.”

That sounds simple.

I went back outside, found my client and his friend wandering aimlessly and ushered them into the Courtoom. I let them know I talked with the prosecuting attorney and what to expect. This was hopefully going to be a routine in and out. My client was really nervous and wasn’t really saying much, but his friend was just in awe of lawyers. I’m not saying that facetiously, more in the holy-cow-someone-respects-my-career-path sort of way.

Throughout the call, his friend continued to marvel at watching the court: “This is just like Law and Order!!!” (Not so much.) “I can’t wait to see you in action.” (I’m going to stand up and sit down, much like a Catholic mass.) “Is there going to be a trial?” (I sure hope not.)

They called the case and before I got out of my seat, the Defendant entered a guilty plea.

And now I can go drive the ambulance to the ATM demand the policy limits from the Defendants insurance company while presenting the guilty plea as Exhibit A.