“Drunkard in the Courtroom” Contributed to http://www.TheDamienZone.com, By Ann: Be sure to read her blog and her inside stories about what really goes on in a courtroom. Ann’s blog has a bird’s eye view. http://twoangelsofjustice.blogspot.com/
Endlessly grueling hours of studying contract law, property law, constitutional law, business law, statute interpretation, legal research and writing, and advocacy skills in law school proved to be a colossal waste of time when it came time to actually practice law. I didn’t know it at the time and I naively believed that my J.D. was going to save me from the major I had taken up in college. I majored in psychology and lived in a major city. In between classes, I would sit on a park bench reading and I would try to drown out the vocalized incoherent rants of the people pushing grocery carts filled with garbage and having conversations with invisible beings. Sometimes I would look at them and wonder; what is the point of having an imaginary friend who agitates you to the point where you are verbally arguing with them in public? Personally, I would have a very agreeable friend…but I digress.
Today I represented a man who was charged with public drunkenness. Before I met him, I looked at the file and wondered why the cops didn’t have anything better to do with their time. I mean this wasn’t a driving under the influence offense and so what if a man is drunk in public. I had quite the attitude as I traveled to court. In my head, I dressed the police officer in a burqa worn by the moral police in the Mideast and I played a game of imaginary wack a mole with the officer in place of the mole. My indignation lasted all of less than a second once I was confronted with the offender.
We sat in a room and he was clearly drunk. I don’t mean under the influence. I don’t mean buzzed. I mean drunk. Mean and nasty and perverted and DRUNK. I couldn’t explain anything to him. I did tell him that I think he’s drunk but with the care and caution and artful skill that only a person who lived in a city, studied psychology, and who talked a drunk friend out of driving can do. He smelled so bad that I got a little lightheaded. And he wanted a hearing. And he wanted to testify.
Nothing in law school could have prepared me for this guy. There is no mention of the drunken weirdo in the Uniform Commercial Code. I don’t know what to do so I tell the judge we are ready to proceed and I hope that he smells the guy to spare me from having to take any action. The judge takes the bench. He stops writing and asks the Officer- Officer have you been drinking? No, your honor.
Counsel, have you been drinking? I can’t find my voice, where the heck did it go? Finally, I push through my angst which is paralyzing me as bad as a waking dream and I mutter, “No, your honor.” And I try to stifle a laugh as the judge asks every person in the courtroom if they have been drinking. Ultimately, my client was put in jail to dry out before his hearing. But before he was taken away, he stared at me, giggled, and rubbed his privates.