Once again I was faced with a child care dilemma and a traffic court appearance. My 7 year old can become quite impatient when doing something as boring as sitting in a courtroom.
So I came up with a plan to bring one of his favorite candy treats and give it to him only after court and only if he behaved.... Sounds like a good and simple plan.....
We arrived at the court house and surprisingly find a non reserved parking spot. Parking has always been a bitch there. So in we walk through the security screening area. It's a short jaunt from there to the department where traffic cases are heard. As we neared the hallway where the courtroom is located, all I can see is a sea of people (uniformed and not) standing in this tiny lobby area.
NOT A GOOD SIGN. I manage to squeeze down the hall and peer into the courtroom and see a temporary "sit in" Judge presiding. He's still on the 1:30 pm arraignment calendar. The 2:00 pm court trials didn't begin until 2:45 pm. The Judge who usually presides will many times have us out of his court room by 2:45. It always seems when the regular Judge takes a day off he always stacks up the traffic cases.
Here me and my 7 year old sit and he's becoming restless doing things like swinging his feet and kicking the seat back of the seat in front of him.
I look over and here I see him look back at me and roll his eyes! I wonder where he learned that from?... So around 3:30 I hear "Officer Two Wheel" I'm thinking, "Finally!" I stand up from my seat only to be told by the temp Judge that my traffic case has been moved upstairs in front of a criminal court Judge.
So my 7 year old is asking all the way up the stairwell "How come", "How much longer", "I'm tired", etc, etc. So before we walk in to the courtroom I tell junior I'll let him hold on to his candy treat, but not to eat it until we are out of the court house. In retrospect, what the hell was I thinking!! Giving a 7 year old his favorite treat and telling him not to open it!!!!!!
We take a seat in the courtroom and my traffic case is called shortly afterward. Myself and the defendant approach the bench and stand in front of the tables reserved for the prosecutor and defense. Now courtrooms are pretty quiet to begin with even when someone is speaking.
I'm giving my testimony as to the events which resulted in the ticket issued to the defendant when I can hear behind me, "Humph!" My first instinct was to turn around and give him the "eye" but I thought the Judge might take offense to me turning around while testifying.
So I continue giving my testimony and I hear a second and even louder "HUMPH!" I had just finished my testimony and turned around to look at my son, only to see his arms crossed on the seat back in front of him and he was giving me the "eye"!
I wink at him to try and bring his frustration level down and he replied with another "Humph!" I direct my attention to my front and continue to listen to the defendant when I hear the sound of candy wrapper being manipulated by his small devilish hands.
If I can hear that crinkling candy wrapper sound, I know the Judge can hear it too. I even saw the court reporter look toward my son as he was prematurely unwrapping that candy treat.
The Judge had some clarifying questions for me and after all was said and done, he found the driver guilty. The next unfamiliar part of having a traffic case heard in a criminal court is they didn't know how much the fine was supposed to be and had to call down to the traffic court to find out.
The defendant left the courtroom ahead of me. I turned around thanking God that I didn't receive a stern admonishment from the Judge for my son's behavior. Let me tell you, Judges have a way of talking to you to make you feel like a little kid again getting your ass chewed by your dad.
My son and I are walking down the aisle between the chairs when I heard the Judge say "Officer, can you hold up a minute?" Like I'm going to tell this guy who wields some tremendous authority and power second only to the person who rules behind St. Peter's pearly gates and say the word "No".
I turn around and replied "Absolutely your Honor." I'm expecting to get the ass chewing of my life for my son's antics in his courtroom. And now follows the short dialog between Your Honor and me;
Judge; "Is that your son?"
2WT; "Yes he is."
Judge addressing my son; "What's your name son?"
My son; "2WT Jr."
Judge; "How old are you?"
My son; "Seven"
Judge; "Come on over here." as the Judge motioned my son to come behind the bench next to him.
I watch my son walk around the bench and stand next to the Judge. The Judge got up out of his chair and directed my son to have a seat. Of course my son jumps on this opportunity and climbs up into the Judges chair. The Judge handed him his gavel and asked him, "Do you have anything to say to your Dad?"
I watched my son look at me as the Judge told him where to swing that gavel. My son stared straight in my eyes and said loudly "GUILTY! GUILTY" and pounded that gavel. Myself, the Judge, court reporter and bailiff all had a good laugh about that.
Needless to say I was very relieved that it wasn't the impending ass chewing I thought.
Before my son jumped out of the Judges chair, I watched the Judge reach for something behind his bench and handed a piece of candy to him.