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So, yeah…court

We just got a piece of mail from one of the detectives working on our case and that reminded me that I never wrote about my Adventures at City Court.

If you’re new to the site, our house was broken into about a month and a half ago. We got a summons in the mail to testify against the burglar a few weeks ago. Since the husband gave the actual statement to the cops, he was supposed to appear but he had classes on the day that the hearing was going on and didn’t want to miss them. (His major is a little intense and missing a day of classes is generally not a good idea.) So I went in his place.

My mom was nice enough to give me a ride so I wouldn’t have to contend with lunchtime bus traffic. I arrived at the courthouse not really sure what to expect since I had never been to court before. But I walked in, got my backpack searched, went through the metal detector and indirectly gave the security guard a hernia when she handed my backpack to me (sorry, lady!). All that jazz. People were sort of just sitting around in the hallway and by piecing together information from the various handwritten signs taped to the wall I determined that we were all waiting to check in for the 12:30 hearings. There were about half a dozen, rickety old writing desks scattered about but those were all taken, so I slid down against a wall and started reading some stuff for class.

After a few minutes I looked up and everyone was shuffling into a sloppy line, so I followed suit. I ended up behind a woman who had two bootleg Coach tote bags that were filled with all of her mail, junk mail, catalogs and bills. She took each piece of mail out, read it thoroughly, and then carefully replace it in one of the bags. When the line moved forward she would replace whatever she was reading, straighten the tote bags out, then pick them up and move 6 inches forward before returning to the Giant Eagle circular that she was studying. This whole process of hers really started to get on my nerves.

But the checking in process was surprisingly efficient and I was soon sitting in an actual chair in the courtroom. I read some more but mostly did some people-watching. I later told Jwan, who works for lawyers and is in court everyday, that it’s very much a cross-section of humanity. I had worried earlier in the day that I would be under-dressed since I was wearing jeans, but my fellow citizens quickly assuaged my concerns. There were a few attendees in shirts, ties, and other business casual staples. There were plenty of people who just did not care and other folks like me who were somewhere in between.

One woman rolled past me in a wheelchair. She was missing half of her left leg and was wearing sweatpants, an old Tweetie Bird sweatshirt, and a dingy Ked. A crumpled pack of Kools rested in her lap.

Every single person there was irritated or depressed. Or both.

A woman came in and asked everybody there for our case to follow her out into the hall. It was very crowded and when I finally managed to shuffle into the hallway, I found myself pressed against a young man whose baseball jacket I had been admiring in the courtroom. The woman, who turned out to be the detective on the case, called all of the victims over and told the group of about 10 people that the burglar had postponed the hearing so that he could retain private counsel. She gave us the information for the next hearing and instructed us to call the police immediately if the burglar attempted to have any contact with any of us. One person asked if he could be pointed out to us so we would know what he looked like. The detective described him and mentioned that he was wearing a red baseball jacket.

So, I had been standing right next to the guy who had broken into our house. Nice.

Talking to the detective some more, I found out that he was responsible for a home invasion that happened a few weeks after our burglary and during that home invasion he beat the homeowner with a pipe. Another woman there told us that he had taken her dog when he had burglarized her house and beaten the dog quite severely.

That scared me. A lot. In the weeks after the burglary, after finding out that it was some random person and not someone we knew, I had felt much better about the whole thing. We had had some bad luck but he had simply wanted stuff and had no interest in harming anyone. But that wasn’t the case. He had hurt someone and cruelly attacked an animal. This new portrait of him was not as warm and fuzzy as the punk kid who needed cash.

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