Sunday, July 17, 2016

Smokin' in the Courtroom

James Johnson was in court today.
James is a familiar character:  The Old Hippie who decided to try to change the system from the inside, so he went to law school.
Most of his dirty blond hair has deserted the top of his head, but that hasn't deterred the rest of the long locks from hooking up for the perennial ponytail.
The poor man has lots of allergies to lots of things, evidently.  He no longer seems to be aware of the volume of his snorting and harking.  In between said same snorts and harks, he blinks violently as if trying to hold back a tide of water from his leaky, rheumy eyes.
James is a mess, but he's a good guy.  Except maybe for that bit about the girlfriend.  He manages to work the fact that he has a girlfriend into each and every conversation. I understand that he wants us to know he has someone to love, but Lord!  It's been years!  We are no longer impressed that he has a girlfriend(s).  Mere existence of a relationship has been satisfactorily established.  Time to move on!
Today he was in court to try to have his client's $1 million dollar bond reduced.
Granted, that's a pretty high bail bond amount, especially for our small county.  But James' guy has a pending court case for bail jumping.  And he's currently in jail for trying to murder a cop.
Prior to the hearing, James flopped down onto one of the spectator pews just behind the bar.  We were going to have a probation revocation hearing before hearing his case.  The defendant's family hadn't come, so James was the only body in the cheap seats.
Julie, the District Attorney, and I sat at the counsel table while she signed some last minute paperwork.  The Judge was perusing the court files on the bench and the Court Reporter and I sat quietly, for once, waiting for the action to start. The defendant and his attorney held a whispered conversation at the other counsel table.
James gave a particularly loud and prolonged snort.
Having already broken the silence, he decided to throw out a conversational gambit.
"Julie - you and I were in law school together.  How is it you're able to retire this year and I've got to keep working?"
Julie finished her signature with a flourish then walked to the bench to hand the Judge the paperwork before turning to James.  "I can retire because I'm the DA, not a defense lawyer."  She said 'defense lawyer' much like one might say 'sewer dweller' or 'child molester'.
Then she grinned.  James smiled.  And blinked.
Then he snorted the snot back up into his head.
"Judge," he said musingly. "Did you know Julie and I once tried a murder case right here in this very courtroom?"
"Did you now?" The Judge tried to sound interested.
"Yessir.  First murder case y'all'd tried in 24 years!"
It was Julie's turn to snort.  "What have you been smoking, James?  That wasn't even close to our first murder in 24 years!"
"Really?"  James was nonplussed.
"Yes, really."
"Huh."  James appeared to ponder this.
"Well, did you win, James?" the Judge drawled.
"No sir.  Well, sort of.  My client didn't get life."
"He got sixty-six years!" Julie said, aggrieved.
"Well, yeah," James agreed.  He grinned up at the Judge.  "When it came out in testimony that my client went home to reload it sort of threw my self-defense strategy out the window!"
James' current client's bond still stands at $1 million.
Nobody beats Julie.
I'm gonna miss her.