The Courts of Man are for People Too Stupid to Take God’s Plea Bargains
Before I posted the entry I wrote last night, I asked God if I should do it, and it seemed that I had his approval. Having put it up, I might as well continue.
Today I went to the Richard B. Gerstein building, otherwise known as the criminal courthouse. This is a depressing concrete Sixties structure that could pass for Soviet architecture. The online docket said my sister’s trial was scheduled for 9:30 a.m., in courtroom 5-4, before Judge Migna Sanchez-Llorens. I don’t have any idea where my Florida Bar card is. If I did, I could have used it to circumvent the line of impatient people going through the metal detectors. I found myself shuffling forward among people with face tattoos. Individuals who talked too loud and made gestures which, among polite people, would nearly be considered assault.
I found the courtroom, and I asked where they kept the docket. I had forgotten. It was sitting beside the door. My sister was on page 19. The paper docket is more complete than the one they put on the Internet. It clearly stated that she had failed PTI, or pretrial intervention. That meant there were two remaining options: trial or plea.
I went into the courtroom and noticed, as I have in the past, that it resembled a church. The seats were pews. There were pulpits facing the bench. There was even a tacky stained glass wall behind the judge.
It was dark. I have no idea why they keep the lights so low. It’s as if demons work there and can’t stand the light.
The people looked grungy, as always. They look pretty grungy in civil court, but in criminal court, they look even worse. The lawyers don’t try to dress well. Even the women look baggy and frazzled. Their hair looks like they combed it while driving to work, and it has no shine. Their skin is dull. The men wear suits the way I wore a suit when I was a kid and my mother forced me to go to church. They don’t take pride in their suits. They wear them simply to be allowed to work. They throw them on and add cheap, boring ties that aren’t tied well, and their reward is the privilege of speaking in court without being cited for contempt. That’s all they’re shooting for.
The judge is a fortyish lady who looks like she hasn’t slept in days. She seemed to squint, like someone who works in a haze of irritating cigarette smoke. She was polite and quick, but she rarely smiled, and there was nothing even remotely social about her dealings with the attorneys. Pure business. Get them in; get them out. Get it done. Go to lunch. No jokes. No teasing. Some judges manage to bring a little life to their courtrooms, but it seemed as though that idea had not occurred to Judge Sanchez-Llorens.
I’m not faulting her. She seemed to do a fine job. I’m just characterizing her style as I perceived it.
A girl I went to high school is a criminal judge. I haven’t seen her at work. I’ve often wondered what it would be like. In high school, she was one of the girls who took nothing seriously. She sat across the room from me in Latin class, with her friend Maria. Giggling at the socially awkard teacher and waiting for it to be over. Perpetually bored. Not the kind of person you would expect to see in a judge’s robe. Sometimes people get serious when they realize they have to make a living.
The people in the pews looked really bad. I saw young men who apparently thought sagging was a good way to impress a judge. I was surprised the bailiff didn’t tell them to pull their pants up so the rest of us didn’t have to see eight inches of boxer shorts. He snapped at people for talking, but the ghetto lingerie show didn’t seem to faze him.
I saw one girl in hot pants. No kidding. I mean shorts that ended about an inch from her crotch. There used to be judges who would send attorneys home for wearing expensive dress shirts that weren’t white. Now people show up in hot pants.
I looked around, and I thought, “This place is the gate of hell.” As far as we know, there are three levels of human existence. In hell, people have no liberty, and they live in constant defeat. In paradise, they have liberty and satisfaction, and they live in victory. On earth, things go both ways. If you can get God to bless you and protect you, life is pretty good, for the most part. If you live under curses, you end up in court, and you get a little foretaste of hell, which should wise you up. You’re subjected to great anxiety. You may be physically restrained. You may end up confined to a box in a building that smells like urine, much like the unsaved people who are confined in the afterlife. The people who work at the courthouse will try to help you minimize the defeat, but if you don’t listen, you’ll descend deeper and deeper into misery.
It seemed like a church dedicated to Satan. We are taught that Satan rules this world, and that means he’s a big part of government. Blessed people go to God’s churches. People who rely on themselves and the government end up in Satan’s municipal and federal churches. Christians plead their cases before God. The non-blessed plead their cases before judges.
No wonder the atmosphere in courthouses is so depressing. You don’t end up in a courthouse until Satan gets a grip on you and pulls you there. A courthouse is a place where people go to lose their liberty, their children, their jobs, their money, their spouses, and even their lives. It’s not a place where you want to be.
It reminded me how badly I want to avoid going into courthouses in the future. I’m so grateful that I have been spared. I’ve done stupid things and gotten away with them. I’ve nearly done stupid things, and I’ve changed my mind or had my path changed for me. I could have been just like these people. At the mercy of the moderately bright girl who giggled in Latin class, instead of the all-knowing God who created the galaxies.
I was there for several hours, and when my sister’s name was finally called, it turned out the defense had filed for a continuance. The defense attorney wasn’t there, and neither was my sister. I had wasted my time. I got up and went home. I was so glad to leave; the whole time I had been there, I had felt as though I had been the one on trial.
I heard no mention of a plea, and the trial is still set to take place. The date is February 4.
It’s starting to sink in. She may be headed for at least three years in the penitentiary. If she can’t shake the battery charge loose, it will be eight years. No probation. No time off. I don’t think they permit concurrent sentences for crimes with mandatory minimums. Maybe they do. If so, she might do only five years, even if convicted of both crimes.
She has a misdemeanor trial tomorrow. I don’t think I’ll go. I’m weighing the pluses and minuses.
I wondered: should my father and I have sprung for a better attorney? The answer is no. She chose her attorney, and she can afford to make a change if she wants. The attorney she’s using now is working for nothing, and that’s probably why she chose him. I would be happy to provide cash for a different lawyer, if she transferred some assets to me, but there is no way on God’s green earth that I’ll spend my own money while she has a dime to her name.
My advice to everyone is to live right and get under God’s protection. The courts are inept and slow, even when judges do their best. And like defendants say, you can beat the rap, but you can’t beat the ride. Court is a miserable experience even if you “win.” It’s like the WOPR said: the only way to win is not to play.Stumble it! Save This Page