Humor in the Court! (Yes, cops are funny too)

My apologies for the grammatical errors. There are way too many run on sentences, and I should have tried harder, but got frustrated and left it as is. Try to enjoy it and I promise to do better.

Today the post is compliments of events last night, and memories. Sorry it’s a tad long, but under my self-imposed 1,000 words; for long posts.

We had company over, and the conversation turned to one of my guests having to be a witness in a civil matter. They had never been to court before, and were apprehensive about the upcoming event. I advised them to try to relax since they were going to give testimony in a matter, not answering for something they had done. Knowing I was in police work years ago someone asked if I ever had a bad court experience. I could honestly answer, “No, but I did have some fun once.”

In my 24 years on the street I had to go to court very little, other than to represent the city in giving testimony. I remember one court visit that was actually enjoyable at the end.

“That’s not mine. It’s hers”

I had stopped a vehicle for speeding, the driver was very nervous and had no ID or license. During the interaction I had to ask him out of the car, as he exited I noted a plastic baggie on the seat that had been under him. Naturally, as I retrieved the item, He declares immediately, “That’s not mine. It’s hers”, pointing to his passenger. It was crack cocaine, which resulted in his arrest. He hired an attorney claiming it was not his, he claimed his passenger was the owner of the drugs.

Circuit Court on the County level is pretty stiff shirted. We called it “Circus Court” because the attorneys are parading around, expounding on the laws and tiny details doing their best to trip up the officers and swing the case in their favor. You’ve seen the crime shows I’m sure.

I even had some fun

On this day I had to appear and give testimony that the man was actually in possession and control of a controlled substance. I was a bit put off that I had to be there. I didn’t make bad cases, and being there simply so that attorney could try to get his client off an open-and-shut case was irritating. Of course him being a local attorney we were all familiar with his willingness to accept easy money. The case was short and sweet, I even had some fun and helped lighten the mood of an otherwise grim feeling courtroom and the Judge.

My case was called and I made my way to the witness box and sworn in.  I don’t really know what the client had told his attorney, but he must have lied. It soon became clear that the defense being presented was that the man did not have possession and control over the crack cocaine.

I will just hit the two funny parts sparing us of all the technical details of why was he stopped.

Towards the end we finally received the supposedly perfect defense line from his Attorney, “My client told you his passenger was the owner of the drugs, what led you to believe he was the owner of them, there were two individuals in the vehicle. What would lead you to assign ownership and control.”
Naturally I was amazed that this was the defense he was raising. I just simply said, “When he exited the vehicle I noticed he had been sitting on them.” This led to a low giggle in the courtroom as naturally the average person assumes you in possession and control if you are sitting on something to hide it. The Bailiff naturally had to gently chastise everyone.

‘You just can’t make this stuff up!’

The second and what I felt was the funniest part, was when the attorney approached me in the witness stand to begin his questioning. He had his recorder in his hand, a  small pocket sized cassette recorder (digital ones were not common around 1996). He looked at, fiddled with the buttons then with a slightly exaggerated movement set it on the square rail of the witness box facing me. Now there is a saying, ‘You just can’t make this stuff up!’ It was as if the interaction that day between the attorney and I had been scripted for a movie.

In his best Perry Mason voice he says, “You’ll let me know if that stops recording right?” just loud enough for others to hear so he looked sophisticated and in charge. I looked at the device and noted the little wheels of the cassette in the small window were not turning as he walked away. They also did not turn as I gave my testimony. Now the use of a recorder is two fold. One, it is supposed to intimidate me or whoever is answering his questions. Two, provide him with his own recording in case he had to appeal the case and not wait for the court recorders official typed record.

At the end of his questioning and closing he walked over and picked up the recorder and asked, “Did it stop recording?” to which I plainly stated (just loud enough for others to hear), “It never started”. This resulted in open laughter from the courtroom and the judge had a small grin as he banged his gavel. The attorney looked at me and remarked, “At least your honest” knowing he had gotten the short end of a technicality. This led to another small round of giggles.

He later told me that he had it set to VOX (voice operated) but apparently he had the sensitivity too low and it never picked up enough volume to start recording as we talked.

Sometimes it’s fun to get one over your adversary, remembering those times are even better!

Comments always welcome,

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