welcome to the courtroom

The subtle signs of tension are there. A muscle jumps in his cheek, his hands are

clasped behind his back. The man stands beside his attorney, completely still, as the judge


The silence in the courtroom stretches on until finally the judge breaks it.

He would scratch the order for the man’s arrest.

A lecture followed. The burden of keeping up with court dates rested squarely on his

shoulders and there were to be no more excuses about lost letters or missed phone calls.

The next time he didn’t show up for scheduled court date, a warrant would be issued for

his arrest and he would find himself sitting in the Cleveland County jail.

Next up, a man in a yellow jump suit that made him look jaundiced.

A fidgety woman with pockmarked skin and sharp bones sat in the front row, eyes trained

on the main with the braided hair. Her young daughter, dark bangs covering her face, sat a

few rows back, head bowed over her seat. The prosecutor read from a file the charges

against him. How the girl said he had touched her, rubbed his private parts on her, poked

his fingers in her. Would the child’s mother like to speak?

She jumped up, stood in front of the judge, and tearfully, jerkily, asked that the man be

locked up for as long as possible.

The man in the jumpsuit pleaded guilty to a lesser charge and was sentenced.

The drama was played out, exhausted itself, and new characters took their place.

This time it’s a domestic violence case.

A man had shoved his girlfriend into a closet, beat her with the butt of his gun, fired shots

off into the house and threatened to hold her daughter hostage, the prosecutor said. The alleged abuser claimed he paid his dues to stay on the streets and had the cops in his

pocket. Witnesses heard the man threaten the woman. Bullets were retrieved from the

couch in her living room where they had gone through the floor and ricocheted into the


Now, the woman stands before the court and asks for the charges to be dropped.

It was all a misunderstanding, she says, nervously twisting her hands.

It didn’t really happen that way.

She doesn’t know where those bullets came from.

She knows him better than the prosecutors and judges.

They plan to have a relationship. They have a child together.

The prosecutor jumps up, spitting mad, the state plan to pursue prosecution.

If she doesn’t have to sense to do if for herself, then the state will do it for her, the

prosecutor said.

“Do you have a death wish, maam?” The judge asks.


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