Today was my day in forest preserve court. Yes, they actually set aside a special courtroom just to prosecute criminal picnic behavior. The presiding judge made fun of almost everybody's name and gave instructions so fast that they were almost unintelligible. "Hendricks? James Hendricks? Is Jimi Hendrix in the building?"
"Ifyou'reguiltysay'Here'andstepupifyou'repleadingnotguiltysaynotguiltyandi'lltakethosecaseslastanddon'tforgetthatthecourtcostshavegoneup. . . "
For those of you who missed my play by play of last December's tete a tete with the forest preserve dipstick posing as a member of law enforcement, here's the shorter version:
Mrs. Linklater pulled into a virtually deserted forest preserve picnic area to use one of their garbage cans on her way downtown to have lunch with friends. Nothing worse than handing over your car to the valet parker with a pile of fast food bags on the passenger seat. She put her car in park, left the engine running for warmth, removed her seat belt, and began tossing empty bags of Micky D's, Wendy's, Dunk 'n Donuts, Brown's Chicken and anything more than a couple of weeks old into one of Cook County's shiny silver forest preserve cans.
After cleaning her car, she moved it about a car length away from the can, put it in park again, left the engine running, and started putting on her make up before heading downtown.
A forest preserve squad car pulled up alongside her and said she had to park perpendicularly. And do it now. He didn't say, "Next time, please park perpendicularly." Mainly because "perpendicularly" has too many syllables. His point was that Mrs. L had to rearrange the position of her car right then. To make a long story short, Mrs. L took exception to the cop's orders, since she was just using the garbage can. Oh, and putting on her makeup. He took exception to her exception. "Make up your mind. Are you using the garbage can or putting on your make up? Driving or parking." She accused him of harassment. He demanded to see her license and proof of insurance and informed her she was looking at three tickets.
She got tired of jawing with him and told him to go ahead, write the tickets. He only wrote two. Her car was in park, but the engine was running, so he gave her a citation for not having her seatbelt on. She also didn't give him a current insurance card, so he cited her for that.
In the courtroom, she showed the judge that she did have insurance, so that ticket was immediately dismissed.
Even more surprising, the seatbelt ticket went away almost as quickly. Apparently the cop knew while he was writing it that the seatbelt ticket was bogus, because he didn't put the whole date on it. Only the month and the year. He must of known that Mrs. Linklater would show up in court prepared to rip him a new body part for being such a jerk, complete with a word for word account of their conversation. It's worth noting that the cop did put the complete date -- month, day, and year -- on the proof of insurance ticket. So he knew what he wasn't doing.
Mrs. L discovered the mistake herself about five minutes before she was called up in front of the judge. Thinking she'd missed something she asked the person sitting next to her to read her the date on the seatbelt ticket. "It says 'December, 2008.'" "But what's the date?" "It doesn't say the actual date, just the month and year."
Of course, Mrs. Linklater didn't put two and two together until she was standing in front of the judge. He leaned over and asked the prosecutor, "What's the date on this ticket?" The prosecutor looked at the ticket and said, "December, 2008." The judge barked at her, "What day?!"
Mrs. Linklater piped up, "December 4th, 2008."
The judge looked at Mrs. L like she was lint and said, "SHUSH."
"No date. This case is dismissed unless you have something you just have to add, Ms. Linklater." I could tell by the sarcasm dripping off his puffy lips that telling my compelling story about what the dumbass squirrel and tree cop did was lost to posterity. Except for this entry.