So Now You’re 62
My friends often ask do I miss my court-reporting career. My answer is yes and no. I was proud of taking down testimony at 260 words per minute. My first job was in Beloit. On a regular intake Monday thirty prisoners cuffed and chained sat in the jury box awaiting their hearing. To me, it seemed like baptism by fire reporting criminal and juvenile cases. There were such high stress times as murder cases and malpractice. There were sad, emotional times of child abuse, and death. There were some very funny moments for such serious subject matter.
I vividly remember a courtroom scenario that the Judge, the jury, and myself began laughing out loud. The final arguments were being presented to the jury. The prosecutor had finished, and the defense attorney had begun his final statements to the jury before deliberation. Curious to me was a mousetrap sitting on defense counsel’s desk near the corner edge. Props for closing arguments? That’s new, I thought to myself. Defense counsel in his blue pinstriped suit began.
“Members of the jury, my client is charged with possession and delivery of cocaine to an undercover informant.”
Trying to address all jurors, he moved from one end of the jury box to the other, and then leaned into the desk. Snap, the mousetrap went off and was now attached to his suit coattail. Everyone in the courtroom roared with laughter. Defense counsel interrupted stating at some point he was going to use the mousetrap as a visual for his defense that the defendant was entrapped into this crime, it seems this time had arrived.
There were also times of bizarre conduct in the courtroom. Prisoners were brought to the courtroom, dressed in orange jumpsuits, shackled to each other. The very prim and proper clerk called the next name on the list, Samantha Jones.* The courtroom bailiff unlocked her handcuffs, and she walked to the bench in front of the judge, where she promptly unzipped her jumpsuit, and stepped out of it, bare naked.
All of a sudden, the judge was pounding the gavel, yelling, “Miss, put your clothes back on right now.”
As she was not so inclined, two bailiffs quickly aided her.
Danger in the courtroom, why yes, there were such moments. Public defenders were often called upon to represent indigent defendants charged with serious felonies. In some cases their handcuffs remained on through their hearing. Sitting next to each other at defense table, defense counsel was giving his reasons why the defendant should be released on bail. The defendant raised his arms, wrapped them around defense counsel’s neck, and pulled his cuff chains tight to his throat. No problem, the bailiff immediately tazes the defendant, whereupon they both fell to the ground chairs and all. Of course, the defendant was held without bail.
Humor in the courtroom helped me cope with difficult scenarios at work as it does in my everyday life.
I worked with great colleagues, felt the satisfaction of work well done, After thirty-three years, I am now enjoying retirement with good friends, hobbies and interests. It is a different lifestyle, but a good one.
By Patricia “Golden Girl” Lynne