Dream of: 17 July 1996 "Speeding Ticket"
I was in a court room where I had been appointed as the attorney to represent a fellow on a speeding ticket. It was the day of the trial, and although my client wasn't present (and in fact I hadn't even met him yet), the jury of six jurors had already been picked and was milling about the courtroom. I didn't particularly like the make-up of the jury; they seemed to all be conservative white people (in their 50s). We were all waiting for the arrival of my client, whom I imagined to be a thin man (in his early 20s). I thought he was also being held in jail for another offense, and that he would be brought straight from the jail to the courtroom.
I finally walked over to the judge – a portly man (probably in his 50s) – and asked him if my client was still in jail. But as soon as I had spoken, I realized that instead of to the judge, I had spoken to one of the jurors. I immediately put a finger to my mouth to signal the juror that he should not say anything. I didn't want him to tell the other jurors what I had said. But I realized I had probably destroyed my chances of winning the case. The juror gave me a semi-disgusted and knowing look, as if to say that it figured that my client would be in jail. It was a look that said that my client must also be guilty of the current charge which I was defending. I immediately realized I had made a terrible mistake. Not only had I been communicating with a juror, but I had told the juror damaging information. I had hoped during the trial to object to any mention that my client was in jail and keep the jury from knowing about it. But what could I do now? I didn't want to go to the judge and tell him what had happened. I thought I would just have to go on the way it was.
Everybody finally sat down and began waiting. I sat in the back of the courtroom and began looking through my papers. I realized I needed to talk with my client before the trial began.
I also thought about the prosecutor, who was a woman. I thought she probably handled this kind of case every day. But this was rare for me. I had had jury trials before, but never on a traffic ticket.
I finally stood and walked over to the judge, who was sitting at a beige-colored desk. He didn't seem to recognize me until I mentioned to him that he had appointed me to work on this case. But when I brought it to his attention, he said that he would be appointing me to more cases. I began wondering how much each case would pay. Up until then I hadn't even thought about how much I would be making; but now the question was in my mind.
Again we all waited. After waiting about another hour, I decided to go up to the judge and ask him if he would dismiss the case. I knew it was common in traffic ticket cases to dismiss the case if the police officer didn't show up. I thought this situation was similar since my client was unable to appear because he was in jail. But just as I walked up to the judge (who now seemed to be a woman in her 50s), she called out that we would all be taking a recess. Nevertheless I stepped up to her and asked if she would consider dismissing the case. She quickly refused and I walked back to my seat.
When I sat down, I began wondering why my client was in jail. I wondered if it could be for a drug offense. For myself, I wished I was defending a drug case instead of a speeding ticket. Since I didn't think possession of drugs should be illegal, I could heartily throw myself into the defense of a drug case. But a speeding ticket just seemed too trivial to get worked up about. Nevertheless, even thought I felt unprepared, I decided I would try to do the best job I could.
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