Thursday 16 October 2008

My 'Day in Court!'

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Two weeks ago I accompanied an acquaintance of mine to the Court House in relation to a traffic charge. She is a young foreign woman who had nobody to go with her and so I was glad to go along to comfort and support her, just as my pastor Stephen supported me when I had to attend court seven years ago, but that's another story.

Well, we sat in the well-lit and bright hallway for most of the day rather than sit in the overly crowded and stuffy room full of the accused, the solicitors and Guards (Policemen). Eventually, we went in and sat agape, listening to the madness, I mean the different cases the Judge had to trawl through.

To cut a long story short, a young man stood up along with his interpreter. He was from Poland. There was a lot of to-ing and fro-ing between the Guard, the Judge and the interpreter. The Guard hadn't the paperwork in order and wanted the case to be put back for three months. The accused complained. This went back and forth at least four times, with the interpreter in the middle of course. It was suggested that the case be put back only two weeks. Again, the accused complained. You could tell that the Judge really wanted to sort the whole thing out and gave the accused plenty of leeway. Eventually the interpreter said, "My client wants to know what the charges are?'....

The Guard said that the accused had used abusive language and was drunk in a public place...

(Now, I am gong to have a little fun with this one, so stay with me here!)

Initially, I was bemused and wondered to myself what kind of abusive language this young Polish man used, when he couldn't speak a word of English and needed an interpreter, but then again, you never know...

Then I thought of the charge of being drunk in a public place.

Less than half an hour before this small drama was taking place, when I was in the hallway, a drunk came in to the Court House, into the courtroom and then back out into the hall where we were. He was young enough, in his late twenties. He was so 'plastered' that he fell on the floor just inside the moving doors (which were opening and closing, opening and closing) and rolled back and forth and side to side like a tortoise who couldn't get off his back, and in between all this he had a cigarette going from his mouth to his hands and back to his mouth again...

I looked around and saw a Guard who smiled at me and walked away. I caught the eye of a young Latvian man and indicated to him to help me. He nodded, so I went over to the man on the floor, looked him in the eye and asked him if he needed some help getting off the floor. I was quaking a bit but reckoned that he might not hit a well-dressed woman in a court house! Well, he said yes, so I told him he had better throw away the cigarette before he burned us both, which he did. As I reached out my hand to lift him, the young Latvian man crept up behind him and hoisted him onto his feet and we plonked him down on a bench, his feet barely hit the floor.

When I went over to pick up the burning cigarette to throw it outside, (just as well I wasn't done for littering!) another Guard came over and said that there was a car coming for the drunk, and he walked away!

Now, all this is ok, a bit strange..., but ok. What I found, and still find amusing, is what was going on in the next room with the Polish guy - the one who was being charged with being drunk in a public place!

And so, the story for the Polish guy ends with him saying he was due to fly out to Poland that day. On hearing this, the Judge decided to 'Strike' the charge and let the Polish man go! One happy man!

The drunk's girlfriend came along, mortified. She, her friend and her mum carted him out of the Court House and into the back of a taxi. My heart went out to them both. I followed them and spoke to her. I told her that I was once engaged to a good-looking fellah just like him, he was a nice guy too and good to me... but he drank and eventually, after drinking for 10 days and 10 nights, he died in a car crash leaving me six months pregnant...
I told her I would pray for her and she started to cry...
I have been down the path she is on, and I think I went further than she is at present...
I know her face, and I hope to meet up with her again some day and have a proper talk, tell her about the love of God.

As for my acquaintance, well, the Lord worked a miracle for her, BIG TIME, and all is well. The Guards, who were not generally having a good day, turned up trumps for her and intervened in her case, greatly to her advantage.

I have to say, having a good look at all the people in the Court room, on either side of the divide, I couldn't help but think about the Lord and how he came to save the people who were sick and not the people who were well; the sinners and not the righteous. The room was full of sinners, all already condemned. The contrast between the two groups - those on either side of the law - was stark. But it struck me that the chances of the Lord forgiving and saving the poor, drunk, thieving, lying sinner are higher than the Lord forgiving and saving the rich, proud, self-righteous, covetous (which is idolatrous) sinner,

of which I am the chief...

2 comments:

ruth said...

Wow. Courts are frustrating places, I think.

Once I had to go to court becasue I got a traffic ticket for not having my car inspected on time.

At the time, Shannon was two, DJ was one, and I was obviously pregnant for Laura. Shawn and I went together and took the kids, as we have no family here to leave them with.

I think the judge felt sorry for us. Or was afraid we'd be unable to feed our little kids or something. He reduced the ticket from $80 to something like $40.

Judges are much better than clerks. I find clerks to be pompous and legalistic without much (any?) understanding of the intent of the law.

Debbie in CA : ) said...

Powerful insight on many levels, Ruth. Thanks for reaching out to so many around you. Keep serving those cool cups of water to the thirsty, dehydrated, sick, sinners . . . I'll have another cup, thank you. Bless you.