This is the Criminal Courts Building, aka CCB. It has been the venue for famous trials, the most celebrated one being the OJ Simpson Trial. That trial was a big production. Though there has not been a trial as famous as the OJ Simpson trial at CCB recently, the edifice still serves as a venue for daily productions. I find it interesting that several trial attorneys, one of whom is a prosecutor, have said to me that the Law or the courtroom is not about truth.
I neglected to ask them what then are they about. For sure, the CCB building produces shows every day and I was privy to quite a show on Wednesday when I arrived for my progress report and hearing.
Yes, I wrote that garbage about inner growth and development in the previous post. Sure did and with all of the self satisfaction I could convey about my state of mind. Of course I never thought I would have to exercise that higher road of attitude and growth after the hearing. For sure the motion would be granted--after all it had been agreed to by all parties. Or had it? And when? After all, my attorney informed me that he only call the DA on the day before the hearing. Of course, they had over six weeks to get together to discuss this and and reach agreement in areas where there was none. If there was an objection surely a give and take compromise by both could be reached. But a 24 hour before court hearing phone call, there was not too much margin to handle any unforseen contengencies. Suddenly things did not feel so certain that Wednesday morning as I prepared to go to court and meet my fate. Suddenly an uneasiness lingered in the back of my mind, an unsettling feeling that things were not resolved as they should be.
Perhaps I was in denial. I wanted the end to be now. I had the nagging feeling that something was amiss but I prepared early and in detail. Nails were clipped and filed and shoes polished. I had no conflict preparing so meticulously for court. After all I was exercising a bit of discipline and was producing my own presentation--ME.
The Criminal Courts building is one of the constants in Skid Row life. Everybody on Skid Row knows where two buildings are if no other ones--CCB and the nearest County building--which in this case is on Fourth St. The CCB building is visited so much that if there were jungle foliage between Skid Row and The County building, it would all be dense, with the exception of a trail carved out by so many people going to court. Sometimes people go to court and do not return. That is seldom as most people decide the will not risk that and do not go to court at all. Eventually a bench warrant is issued for them and they are arrested and returned to jail or prison.
So On Wednesday, I walked that trail to CCB, no longer as certain of the outcome. Each step I took, the building seemed so increasingly ominious. But onward I went and
to my fate and to observe the Wednesday morning show. I had a feeling the production for the day would be exceptionally interesting.
I was not disappointed.
After making sure my appearance was up to standard--clean shaven, white shirt, blue club tie, gray suit and brown loafers--I made my way to CCB. In my early court appearances, I would get there at 8:30AM but the lines were always crowded. My attorney is always late so I decided to arrive there around 8:45 when the crowds die down. Sure, I may miss the first call of cases but they know I will be there.
I have been in that court room so many times it is like I am part of the family or production depending on the day.
This time things were a bit different when I walked in. There seemed to be a tension in the court room. It was crowded and usually that is not the case. However it was the second day after a Holiday--court backlog. The seeds of anxiety were were planted.
The judge came in and started calling cases and mine was called. Suddenly I saw the DA, who escaped my notice when I arrived by sitting in the corner, raising her hand to speak to the judge. She basically said that my attorney was there earlier but I wasn/t. Now I was there and he wasn't. I detected a bit of irritation in her voice. She obviously did not want to be there. The anxiety seeds were germinating rapidly as her attitude was not a good sign of things to come.
Then the courtroom show started. Having been in that court room many times over the last 2 years, I have come to know the judge's courtroom habits pretty well. I sat there and watched him and it appeared that he was irritated;the subtle rolling of his eyes towards a new clerk gave him away. Most did not see this but I was watching him very closely as this day was very important to me. He kept asking the clerk why certain files were on his desk. Then a couple of attornies walked in and said they were ready for court but they could not get a response from the judge. The the judge did something I have never seen him do before, or any other judge. He stood up walked over to his clerk and asked him for a date stamp. He grabbed one and started stamping his files. After doing that he turned to his new clerk and instructed him on how to stamp his files, where to stamp them and so on.
Oh my god, Walter. This is not looking good here. The judge is not pleased because his court is not running smoothly this morning and the new clerk is aggravating the situation by mismanaging the files. Do something to make sure all of this has as little impact as possible on you.
I got up and walked out of the courtroom determined to find my attorney who was somewhere in the building dealing with some other cases. I called his office and his secretary told me which court rooms to search as my attorney had to make court appearances other than mine that were in CCB. I searched around and in the third court room I found him.
"You were late he said. You have to get there early. The District Attorney was bitching and moaning about why we had to wait for you. And she is not going for any part of the motion. She said 'make him finish the classes'. Go back down and wait for me. I will be back down there in a minute."
Dam, I was afraid of that. Dam Walter, it looks like it is going to be one of those days. Just go back down there and wait for him. Shit.
So I went back downstairs and stood in the hallway for a minute. And the show got better. A black man was standing in the lobby about five feet away from me. Suddenly five police officers walked up to him, surrounded and handcuffed him. "What did I do?" was his question that went on deaf ears. They escorted him to the stairway where they were taking him to holding cell. His female companion kept yelling for him to call her collect so he could get out of jail later that day.
I went in the court room waiting for my attorney. When he got there, the DA was fuming she wanted to leave. Hearing some commotion, I turned and saw my attorney and the District Attorney arguing.
Oh my god, please no. not this. Dam, Walter you might as well forget it. The judge is pissed. The DA is pissed. Now she is arguing with my attorney and nowt about the case. They are fighting about not returning phone calls and waiting to be heard in front of the judge. This is Murphy's law unfolding right in front of my eyes.
They called my case and I rushed to the table to get the whole thing over with. In addition to the show my attorney and the DA were providing, I had alread seen a man arrested. That had never happened in my experience in that building. furthermore I had to watch a preliminary hearing in which it was clear the defendant was guilty. He was wearing jail house blues and that brought back flashbacks of the time I was in their custody. I saw the public defender that was able to get me released from jail. She had been on maternity leave since August. It was good to see her but seeing her added on to memories of the past and I wanted to move forward. Naturally feelings of the past and all of that pain fell on me like a never ending waterfall.
Oh God, just get me out of herein one piece.
We were ready to start my case. Or so I thought. The show had not finished. In fact it just got better. My attorney and the District Attorney were still arguing.
God, I don't need this. Michael, stop fighting with her. Please
Suddenly the judge's voice boomed over the loudspeaker "STOP BIKERING. IF YOU ARE GOING TO BICKER, DO IT ON YOUR TIME." I saw this coming all morning. The judge was already frustrated with delayed cases and poor file management with his new clerk. All of the attornies had excuses. The DA was pissed and my attorney was waging a never ending battle with her as if she had no bearing on my case. This was not a good way to begin the court proceeding. Well guess what, it got worse.
The judge began " Mr. Melton has attended 33 classes".
"36 classes, your honor," burst my attorney.
"DON'T INTERRUPT ME", shot back the judge, staring at him with unflinching eyes. The court room was shocked. Usually this type of admonishment was for the defendants, not the officers of the court.
OH no Michael. The judge is already pissed off. Jesus. Dont say anything else . Please
And of course, my attorney did not stop. He went on about something or another and then the judge told him "That is neither here nor there.:
"It IS what it is!!!" shot back my attorney.
Oh God, Michael. If you keep talking I might end up end jail. Why don't you and the District Attorney go outside and continue your feud and let the judge and I handle this.
The judge heard my attorney's arguments for granting the motion of reducing my felony to a misdemeanor. The District Attorney opposed the granting of the motion just like my attorney said. But she played dirty. She lied.
The show was about to get better. "After all your honor, he has a criminal history". That was a flat out lie. I had no criminal history whatsoever and she knew it. It was a bold face lie, an assumptive fact, that she threw into the game as a dirty tactic, to implant something on the judge's mind to influence his decision--just to get her way. Then she said it again. I reacted after all of this circus and told my attorney that she was lying. He said it didn't matter because the judge had already denied the motion. That part was true. But I was fed up with people saying lies about me during this two plus year time span. And the lies and the prisoner in the jump suit and seeing the public defender again reminded me of all of that.
Eventually the subject of the end of my probation came up. I was surprised that the probation period was over next July, in 2009. I thought it would be over in
2010. And the judge has scheduled for me to be in court on February 27,2009.
He turned to me after the attorney circus was over and he said, "Mr. Melton, please make sure that you pick up that completion later before the court date." The judge had said he was sympathetic to my situation. However his hands were tied. He was in effect saying, "Mr. Melton, I can not do this for you right now. If you were to mess up and do something wrong then I would have my ass in a sling."
Well, I walked out of the court room and, of course, was glad to get the hell out of there. I was glad the show was over. Of course, I walked out of there thinking the worse. That was not the worse of it. I had to live by the words I wrote regarding this inner growth. Of course, none of that made a damn bit of difference to me when I walked out of the court room. I had to find some one with whom I could vent. I vented for a while, ranting and raving about this and that. I got it out of my system and then realized that I had lost nothing. I did not get what I wanted but I got what I needed.
I do not have to worry about waiting. The end is end sight. It is one thing for me to talk about it but is quite another for the judge to talk about it. Then it hit me, it really is almost over, in more ways than one. So instead of worry about each class as I am now near the end, I can concentrate on learning how to improve my sharing with you. I did not waste time being down, I started experimenting with my writing. I used the italics as a way to share what was going on in my mind as the show unfolded in front of me. It was something new. Now I have experience at it. I must improve on it.
This will be the first time that I will not have to be in court in a couple of months since this time last year. So much has changed, and indeed, in the end, I have grown. Dont sweat the small stuff. Things may seem so life and death, and some do not see that that is not the case. They can be so close, so very close, and
and yet, fail to see it and then do something that ruins everything that they haver worked toward. Perhaps the use drugs. Perhaps they do not go to court on the next date. They give up. So what do I do? I shall do what I have been told to do since I arrived here. "Keep doing what you are doing, Walter. It will work out for you."
"Keep focused." It has and it will continue to yield results.