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July 16, 2004

Traffic Court

Traffic court was packet yesterday, with 246 cases on the docket. The judge was moving at a breathless pace, with everyone else (the clerk, deputies, attorneys, and accused) hopping to try to keep up. I wasn't the only one sitting on the edge of my seat trying not to miss any of the action. Many of the cases were disposed of quickly with guilty pleas and fines, no-show witnesses (in which case the judge often dismissed the charge entirely), or traffic school as a "punishment" instead of a fine. As most people perhaps know already, traffic school is a great option if you just have a speeding ticket or something and it's your first one or your first in a long time. If you go to court on a traffic ticket, it never hurts to ask if you could take traffic school and see if that will help you out.

Watching traffic court has taught me that a "guilty with explanation" plea rarely helps any more than a "guilty" plea—the judge may listen to your explanation, but she's probably not hearing it, meaning it won't make your sentence any lighter. I guess sometimes it does, but most of the time guilty is guilty, and the judge doesn't really care beyond that. With 214 cases to dispose of, a judge doesn't have time to care.

Another thing I've learned is that you really really should know the potential penalty you're facing before you decide to plead guilty. I saw a guy yesterday waive his right to a lawyer, then plead guilty to driving on a suspended license, then get a recommended 60 days in jail (w/30 suspended, so only 30 to actually serve) and a year additional license suspension! The guy's head was spinning when he heard the state asking for that sentence, and he begged for a lawyer. The judge had mercy on him and decided to continue the case and give the guy a chance to find a lawyer before he got thrown in jail. That was very nice of the judge, but she didn't have to do that—the guy had signed a waiver of his right to an attorney, then he found he was helpless and facing a relatively huge penalty. (Thirty days in jail is no laughing matter.)

So those are my little lessons in traffic court: Just because you think your offense isn't serious, don't think the judge or the state will see it your way. Whatever your excuses, they probably don't care. Know what you're getting into before you go to court, or get a lawyer who does.

A final lesson that's really a reminder: You just don't want to get caught up in the justice system if there's anything you can do to keep from it. Perhaps it's as just as it can be, but that's not very just, so you don't want to take your chances. Keep your record clean, or your whole life could be sent down the drain b/c the law just doesn't have to care about your complex circumstances. It may care, but it doesn't have to. Is it possible that the two most merciless systems in our society are the justice system and the consumer credit system? You mess up a little in either one, you might be paying for it the rest of your life. Gotta love that.

Posted 05:59 AM | Comments (3) | 1L summer

Reality TV Peeps Should Blog

Last night Bravo aired an episode of Queer Eye UK, which is eerily like the American version—especially the opening trailer, which features the British queer eyes doing exactly what the American ones do in that little montage. Does it have to be so identical?

But that aside, the show's subject was a guy who wanted to become a television personality, so the Queer Eyes gave him a website to help him look more professional to potential employers. That's cool, but I think the queer eyes dropped the ball a bit when they didn't give their project a blog. Today, if you go to Barra Fitzgibbon's site, it doesn't look very up to date. The Queer Eye episode on which he appeared was probably filmed weeks or months ago, and it ended with the strong suggestion that his tv career was about to really take off, yet Fitzgibbon's website offers no updates about what has happened to his tv career since. I'm guessing that's because Fitzgibbon doesn't know how to update the site, but if it had been built around a blog, he could have been updating it regularly with ease. Next time, Queer Eyes, give your guy a blog!

More generally, I suggest to anyone who goes on a reality tv show who would like to "capitalize" somehow on the 15 minutes of fame it provides: Get yourself a blog! Fans of the show you were on—your fans!—might love to get to know you better, and to follow your post-show progress. I'm not talking some PR site where you just promote yourself relentlessly, but a real, honest blog where you talk about your life, and where part of your life happens to be that you were on a reality tv show. And even if you don't want to parlay your reality show experience into some sort of film or television or celebrity career, you could still connect w/fans and possibly have some fun w/a blog. With Fox set to kick off an all-reality-tv channel, I'm betting the reality folks w/blogs will be the ones w/the greatest post-show success.

Posted 05:52 AM | Comments (1) | meta-blogging tv land

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