Miscellaneous Stuff

The People vs. Captain Napalm or Captain Napalm Goes to Court

As most of you may know, last month I had a run in with the law at approximately 3:45 am at FAU that resulted in two tickets—one for no proof of insurance, and one for lack of a valid license plate on the car (okay, so it was eight months expired), which required me to attend court.

Only it wasn't until after I was supposed to show up did I realize I was supposed to show up. But I was able to get a rescheduling without incurring penalty fees, and I sent in my $5.00 and Proof of Insurance to the court.

The day before I'm to go off to court I get a dire warning from the court that I have still to prove I have a valid registration for that car. It was so dire, they had checked every available box, including:

Your driver's license is under threat of suspension
Your driver's license is suspended
You will be arrested if you are caught driving
You will be arrested if you attempt to drive
You will be arrested if you even think about driving
You will be simply arrested to save time

“Well,” I think. “I'll take care of that when I get to court tomorrow.”

At 9 am (am I masochistic or what?).


I wish I could report that my court appearance turned into an overhyped, frenzied media “Here's Channel 7 News” circus, but alas, I'm stuck with attempting to make this an overhyped, frenzied media “Rick Sanchez here …” circus.

[For those of you who live outside of Florida, Chennel 7 (a local Fox station) News makes “A Current Affair” and “Harcopy” seem respectable. Rick “So I hit a few people while driving drunk. I've got money” Sanchez is one of the more sensationalistic reporters at Channel Seven.]

I was able to make it all the way to the Delray Court House and walked in the main entrance at 8:50 am. I walked through the security check point, turned down the 8x10 Glossy Xray Package of My Insides, and got directions to Court #1, where I was scheduled to put in an appearance.

I walked upstairs to find a rather long line of people waiting to get into the court room, which looked very much like the People's Court.

“Misdemeanors and Traffic Violations please line up.” said what I suppose was the bailiff, I don't know. The line moved fairly quickly and soon I was next.

“Last name? <smack smack>” said the Offical Paper Shuffler.

“Conner.”

Rustle rustle. “Okay.” She pulls a folder from the large box in front of her, and sets it next to the box. “You can head <smack smack> inside now.” Why do all bureaucrats chew gum?

I step inside, remembering the sound advice I learned from extensive watching of People's Court. Always address Judge Wapner as “Your Honerable and Most Venerable Judge, More Nobler than Ito.” Always have every conceivable document in your possession, even if it doesn't appear to have a direct relationship to the case. Never chew gum. Never say “Nice Dress” to Judge Wapner.

And most importantly, don't get hysterical.

I sat down near the rear of the court with a good view of the Judge's seat (he wasn't there yet). As the minutes passed, more and more people kept wandering in. A woman sat down in front of me, wearing rather hippyish clothes and the name “LISA” tatooed to her upper arm. Can't say if it was her name, the name of her mother, or the name of her lover. Didn't want to ask, as I was afraid she might punch me out.

At about five past nine, I felt a tap on my shoulder. I turned around to face a little old lady with an exquisite “Eva Gabor Wig—Lavender™” and a “Free Lizzy Borden” tee-shirt.

“Excuse me,” she said, giving me this rather maniacle look. “Is there anyone we can …”

I leaned expectantly towards her.

“… talk to? Hmmmmmmmmm?” Her eyes widened even more.

“Sorry, I'm new here.” I turned quickly around and started to study the “LISA” tatoo.

During this time, some random clerks would call a person to the front of the court. A discussion would ensue and sometimes the clerk would say “Okay, your case is dismissed” or “Okay please sit back down” or “Sit over there so you can talk to the Public Defandant” or “Guilty! Off with 'is 'ead!” I was beginning to wonder when Judge Wapner would show up.

At 9:15 am, my name was called. I wandered away from the Tatoo lady and “Lizzy Borden” and made my way to the front.

“Do you <smack smack> have a valid registration for <smack smack> the car in question?” asked the clerk, leafing through my file.

“Yes, right here.” I pulled out the registration.

“Well. <smack smack> There it is. <smack smack> Guess we have no case then. Dismissed. Walk over there—” and pointed down the long table to another clerk, “— and she'll fill out the proper forms.”

So I walked over there. She filled out a form and gave me a copy.

“Is that it?”

“ … ”

I waited.

“Yup.”

“Oh. Well, what about this?” And I help up the dire warning I got the day before.

“ … ”

“Abou—”

“Juss take it downstairs to the Court of the County Clerks Office and show them that thar form.” She pointed to my court dismissal paper.

“That's it?”

“ … ” <blink> “Yup.”

So I left court.


So, here it was, 9:17 am. I walked down stairs and ended up in front of a large singular column made out of concrete. In front of it there was a sign. I read it.

This column was part of the original Palm Beach Court House when it was built in 1923. It was removed durring the recent expansion of the Palm Beach Court House and placed here, as a symbol for the Court to Uphold the Law.

I looked up. All it was holding up was air.


I walked into the Court of the County Clerks Office. I was expecting to spend the next few hours here (like I was expecting to spend the next few hours in court), but it was strangly empty. I walked over to the Number Ticket Machine™. I took a number. Eighty-six. I walked over to one of the benches and sat down.

“<Bzzzzzzzzzzzz>umbe<crackle> <pop>ghty-si<snap> <bzzzzzzz>ndow<crackle> even,” the overhead speaker spit out. I look up. Window #7 is in front of me. I walk over to it.

“Yes, I got this—”

“Number.”

“What?”

“Number. Your number!”

“Oh.” I hand him the number through the little slot in the bullet proof glass.

“Okay. Now what is your problem?”

I explain to him the dire warning I got, plus the dismissal form. The clerk tapped lethargicly on the computer terminal. “This warning is for another ticket.”

“Yes, the proof of insurance, but I forgot to include a copy of the registration when I sent in the proof of insurance.”

“Hold on.” The clerk then takes the dire warning and spends the next few minutes wandering aimlessly about behind the window. Apparently he finds what he's looking for and wanders back.

“Okay. That's that.” The clerk then tears up the dire warning.

“That's it?”

“Yup. You can go now.”

“Really?”

“Yup.”

“Really and for true?”

“Do you want me to fine you?”

I got the message and left.


I walked outside into the overly bright morning. I looked at the time. 9:23 am. It took me 33 minutes to have two tickets overturned. No money spent. Well. There it is.

If only the OJ thing was as quick.

About

It was May of 1995, some night, around 3:30 am when I'm trying leave FAU when I'm pulled over about 20 yards from the exit. I had been dreading a moment like this because the car I was driving had expired tags. Nine months expired to be precise and I knew that wasn't good.

Even worse, I had neglected to put my proof of insurance card in my wallet.

Even worse still, the car wasn't in my name, and the registration was no where to be found either.

You see, the car belonged to my Mom, but she no longer needed it, having died the year before. And her car was much better than my car at the time, so I was driving her car.

Due to the above, the officer issuing my citation checked the “Proceed to Court. Do Not Pass Go. Do Not Collect $200.00” box.

Between then and the above court date a month later, I managed to find my proof of insurance, get the car transfered into my name, and registered.

Luckily, the outcome was good.