Micro Entrepreneurism, Simple Living & Art
I got a speeding ticket for going 82 in a 65. I screwed up. I fully admit to being guilty and I am willing to pay whatever fine they feel is necessary to appease the law and fund the county. But I can’t. Instead, I had a mandatory court appearance today at 8:30 AM in Greensboro, NC. And as far as the law is concerned, I still technically live in Florida. That minor inconvenience aside, this is the scene at the courthouse today:
I arrive at 8 AM. I put enough coins in the meter for 2 hours. Going through security, I am offhandedly informed that court is an hour delayed today because of the weather – as if I should have known. Now, I considered this being a possibility, as it has been snowing off an on for two days, so I went online to try and check such things, no weather notices/delays/cancellations section on the website. I even tried calling the clerk of courts for traffic court – automated voice message that basically says they can’t help you with anything, you need to show up in court. One would think they could have just easily had a weather notifications number to call with automated message… Later I find out that the delay was broadcasted on the radio – as if that is really a viable form of communication these days. Especially when people are coming from who knows where to get there. A girl behind me was from Charlottesville, and a gentleman in front of me had flown in from Texas. Are you shaking your head yet?
It gets better.
I stand in the designated line for court room 1B, I am maybe the 30th person in line. By the time the doors open at 9:15, there were over 200 people, and they actually couldn’t allow some of them in due to fire marshal regulations. Go figure. A computer spits out the court date when the ticket is written, one would think it was smart enough to assign the right number of people to any given day. I understand that that might be asking a lot.
We file in single file and sit in rows in the order we stood in line. By 9:30 there are people moving behind some desk structure at the front, going through two boxes of files, no actual progress has been made. At the unprompt time of approximately 9:47, a man introduces himself as the DA for court room 1B and proceeds to give us a speech. The summary of it being the following points:
1. We were there today to fill out a piece of paper with our name, a checkbox for whether or not we would be hiring counsel or self representing, and our signature or an application for a public defender.
2. After we filled out that piece of paper we would be taken to see the judge who would assign us another mandatory court date.
3. Questions are not allowed.
4. Silence is mandatory.
5. Should you talk, dress inappropriately, or leave before your turn, you could be arrested.
6. Questions are not allowed.
Oh, and the judge, she was another hour late showing up. But somehow, I managed to get there early, driving nearly 3 hours from Floyd.
I laughed about it most of the way home. By the time all of that is said and done, its no mystery why the government is broke. How do those people: the DA, the judge, the various other characters, get up every day and go to work knowing that they’re accomplishing absolutely nothing?
Some MATH on the subject:
Say half those people would have gladly paid a ticket rather then shown up in court:
100 people x $200 = $20,000 + $5000 savings for half a day less of the horse and pony show + another $5000 for all of us to come back and argue (now that they are insisting on giving me a chance, I intend to do so) + $1800 2 months interest on both the monies paid and monies saved = $31,800 total estimated savings/profit for the county budget … all in a day! if only
My estimated penalty if I had a real job and if I actually had to drive from Florida for this fandango:
$400 for travel expenses to first court date (car/flight + hotel + food) + $400 for travel to second court date + $400 missed wages + $200 ticket = $1400 grand total … for a speeding ticket? Really?
Aren’t there more important things to be spending the precious time/money of the justice system on?