Friday, December 19, 2008


I never wrote about my exciting trip to the court house a few days after my conflagration with the forest preserve cop. That's because the weather has been taking up most of everybody's time. Often we get a warning about four days in advance about a storm coming through that will destroy life as we know it, only to have it miss Chicago by 200 miles. I've lost count of how often this has happened.

The latest early warning panic -- "The snow is coming; the snow is coming!!!" -- promised to tie up rush hour on Thursday afternoon with up to a foot of snow on the north side of town and promises of a devastating ice storm on the south side of town. We were warned to get out of Dodge by 3:00 PM or our sorry asses would be roadkill.

Oh, great. I was supposed to go to a party that didn't start until 5:00 PM. Now the weather was going to wreck everything. Thanks to the weather worry warts, the festivities almost got canceled because a storm was [supposedly] about to attack.

Thursday morning arrived and the weather sluts started to back track. Okay, we're getting a storm all right, but maybe not exactly when we thought. All of a sudden it looked like the killer ice and deep snow wouldn't get here until 7:00 PM. After rush hour.

Good. Now the party didn't have to be canceled, just rescheduled for an hour earlier at 4:00. But wait, the Chicago meteorologists weren't done playing with us. At noon the stormtrackers changed their prediction once again. Uh, hmm, guess nobody has to worry until after 10:00 PM. But, really, scourt's honor, we're still getting a storm through here.

Meanwhile, at 3:00 PM I was driving around under a sunny, clear sky, listening to the insane ramblings of a bunch of doomsayers who were, as usual, wrong. I got home last night, after the party, at 10:00 PM and there wasn't a single snowflake in the area. BUT IT'S COMING!!!!!

This morning I woke up, looked out the window, expecting to be buried in the storm that passed by. Haaa. There were maybe four inches on the ground. Send the rescue dogs.

But this entry was supposed to be about going to the courthouse.

After I paid the forest preserve cop $75 to get my driver's license back, I read the fine print on the paper he gave me to sign.

I noticed there was a box marked with an "x" that said I couldn't leave the state without a judge's permission. That box undid the whole point of getting my driver's license back.

So I called the courthouse to find out how to get a judge's permission to leave the state in case I had a hunger for some cheese in Kenosha. Or wanted to go to a basketball game in South Bend. Or get some cherry pie in Michigan.

Something told me that having to have a judge's permission to leave town was kind of a dumb rule for a traffic offense, but lately, you can't count on the government here in Illinois to make a lot of sense.

The first person I called at the courthouse said I could come to court on Monday and take care of everything. She also confirmed that there was a law in Illinois that required me to get permission from a judge to leave the state. "For a traffic ticket?" "Yes, it's the law." She also said that the judge might be able to hear my case at the same time, which sounded wrong because the cop wouldn't be there to defend himself.

Just to be sure I called again on Monday and talked to another woman who said that my ticket wasn't in the system yet, so I would have to wait seven to ten business days before I could see a judge. She also confirmed that I would have to come in and see a judge to leave the state. "For a traffics ticket?" "Yes, sorry about that."

I'm not sure why, but the next day I called a third time. "I know my ticket isn't in the system, but what if I have to get on a plane? This paper says I have to get a judge's permission to leave the state." So the latest woman on the other end of the phone said I could come in any time from Tuesday through Friday [not Monday like the one lady told me] to room 136 and they would get me in to see a judge so I could travel. Even if it was just a traffic ticket.

I went to the courthouse the next day. In the security line I loaded my coat pockets with all my change and other stuff, thinking it would just be sent through the x-ray, like at the airport. Nope. I had to take all the stuff out of my pockets and put it into my purse instead. And wear my jacket through the machine. Why? "Because that's the way we do it here."

In room 136, I waited with a number for about fifteen minutes, while thirty-five [I counted them] employees walked by the counter and couldn't be bothered to help anyone. Finally, my number was called and I told the woman that I needed to see a judge so I could leave the state.

"You don't need to see a judge to leave the state. Not for a traffic ticket."

"It says here I do." I pointed to the "x" on the paper.

"Well that box is checked automatically. It's for prisoners who are bonding out. We use this form for traffic tickets too, because we don't have anything else."

"So I can leave the state even though this form says I can't."

"That's correct."

"I'm just wondering, would it possible for a judge to hear my case today anyway?"

"Yes, but only if you're pleading guilty."

"I have to plead guilty to have my case heard? But I'm pleading not guilty."

"Well, then, we'll see you on your scheduled court date. Can you still come on that date?"


So, let me get this right. I didn't have to get a judge's permission to leave the state for a mere traffic ticket.

Unlike what I was told.

Also, even though it was true that I could have my case heard, that was only possible if I were planning to plead guilty.

Unlike what I was told.

And I could come to court from Tuesday through Friday, but NOT Monday.

Unlike what I was told.

As it turned out, I didn't have to come to the courthouse at all.

Unlike what I was told.

Who are these people and how to they get their jobs?

And I have readers who wonder why I'm so rude.


Claudia's thoughts said...

They got their jobs because, I suspect, they are all related to the judge.....

Remo said...

Claudia! I'm shocked at your apathy towards the fine people who run our criminal justice system. They aren't related to the Judge.

They slept with him.

There's a difference.

It's so cool to work for the government. We don't have to care. We don't have to act like we care. We don't have to act like it bothers us that YOU care.

Your tax dollars at work.

Chris said...

So do you now have charges pending for battery of a civil service employee?

Mrs. L said...

Good catch, Chris. I wondered if anyone would notice that I was this close to another uh, brush with the law.