The Hawk-Mo Hotwire

Micro Entrepreneurism, Simple Living & Art

A model of inefficiency

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.

Awesome.

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?

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About mudly

Mud is main blog writer extraordinaire, picture guru, and the garden and adventure instigator. She loves to cook, but doesn’t much like following a recipe. She also loves typewriters, the color turquoise, and wearing tie dye with stripes. And she dorks out on permies.com while dreaming up and planning her next garden.

6 comments on “A model of inefficiency

  1. Meka
    January 12, 2011

    It sure does leave one to wonder doesn’t it! So do yo have another court date you need to go back for? You know…so you can get the full experiece and do it all over again!

    • mudly
      January 13, 2011

      I got my 2 minutes in front of the judge. It went something like this:
      Judge: Meredith Bailey
      Me: yes.
      J: You have waived your right to hire an attorney.
      M: Yes, thats correct.
      J: Write this down. Your next court date will be March 4 at 8:30 in courtroom 1D. You’re excused.

  2. Julie Gibson
    January 12, 2011

    and i’m wondering if you got a parking ticket because of the delays?
    i suppose that would be the icing on the cake! it’s just crazy all the way around isn’t it!?!?!?

    • mudly
      January 13, 2011

      Almost- I was figuring I would, to which I was going to write a letter explaining the ridiculousness, and then decided that given the ridiculousness of what I was already experiencing, the letter wouldn’t matter. So I took my chances and ran down to put more money in the meter while we were waiting for the judge. Of course, Murphy’s Law, while I was gone, she showed up and my name was called. Lucky for me, they gave me a second chance.

  3. susan
    January 12, 2011

    well put. funny that you mentioned the financial aspect of it all, by the time i retold the story to zig, i followed it with a similar analysis… hey, consider a shout out to the editor of the greensboro paper… there’s a section where those actually get published.

    • mudly
      January 13, 2011

      Brilliant mom! I just sent it over to Huffington Post – they post crazy news stories. Not a regional paper because I figure nobody really reads those anymore.

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This entry was posted on January 12, 2011 by in Everything All in One Place and tagged , , , .

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