My Day In Court – Verdict Pending

By Binyomin E. The summons was forthright. You must appear together with a lawyer on Aug. 17th, or a bench warrant will be issued for your arrest and your bail bond will be forfeited. I’ve been stuck in my legal situation now for a few years, so I would like to lie and say that I took that carbon copied legal notice in stride. The truth however is otherwise.

As acquainted with and numb to stress as I profess to be at this point in time, receiving that anticipated legal notice was still nerve-racking nonetheless. The stress mounted with each quickened heartbeat as, although I knew Aug 17th was still three weeks off, my lawyer still needed to be paid thousands of dollars more in order to put in an appearance on my behalf.

That Aug. 17th, quickly came and just as quickly left. The lessons learned yet endure. I jotted down my feelings and thoughts that accompanied me on that day. Perhaps bear them with me.

Amazingly- they left me out of the news!

There was this photographer in the courthouse yesterday, along with some reporters. They caught us on the way out, as we came around a bend towards the parking garage. There he was- a pony-tailed, pot-bellied brute- around 6’3 and weighing in at no less then three-hundred pounds, shooting away with this digital camera that just kept on clicking- all the while a twisted grimace on his lips. It was on auto fire, probably on the action setting. I was well dressed in my suit, hat and a nice tie. If I should come across that picture one day, I would like to frame it With all this attention- what can I say. It’s a bit of a letdown- no coverage this morning- not even in the Jew-bashing press. Oh well.

You can share the following with whom you wish, as it might bring its intended metaphoric point across to those on the synchronized frequency.

I sat in a smaller size court room, though it had the usual regulation arrangements of any conventional courtroom: the judge’s bench, the witness stand, and of course the jury box. Yesterday however, only the bench was used for its intended regulation use- by the judge of course.

I sat in the second of four wooden pews of the spectator’s gallery, amongst about fifteen other less glorified population. We however were not spectators this time! Rather, each of us was there to enter our own individual plea. We, all represented by an attorney, or as the judge liked to refer to those “besserer” creatures- “counselor!”

The jury’s box however was the first fixation for my attention as I walked through the just unlocked courtroom doors at 8:57am. No, this was not a trial, just a hearing, and so there was no jury sitting it that area. Sitting in that exclusive and trial-often area of apprehension- in that separate area known as a jury box, were six hardened inmates brought down from the county jail. Attired in tan jail uniforms and unabashedly resplendent in shiny silver handcuffs- they too awaited to enter their own plea.

I was immediately grateful to Hashem that I was able to sit amongst the yet free and not amongst those in todays “jury box,” already shackled and condemned. I would still go home after this hearing. That was a comforting thought. Although – the four foot gringo sitting next to me in the spectator’s gallery smelled like last night’s stale beer or tequila or whatever!

I looked around at the others in this courtroom; all shapes and sizes and various ethnicity represented. One individual had his hair glued back with way too much junk in it- another wore a pink shirt and was yet wearing his sunglasses, which I thought highly unusual for a court room. And these were just the lawyers.

I am thankful as well that my own lawyer is a bit more formidable in years and dignity than the others, and carries himself with an air of respectability. He seems to be well known within the legal system, and I am appreciative of all this.

There was some quiet hubbub amongst all the legal professionals, the prosecuting staff, court reporter, lawyers and other individuals sitting or standing in all the various areas, all talking amongst themselves; this during the time that all who entered the court room were seated.

Shortly thereafter, just at 9:00am, a uniformed officer announced in his loud burly way: “All arise for the honorable judge …..!”

Immediately everyone fell into place! All those many professionals fell silent in mid-sentence and swiftly moved to the side of the wood paneled courtroom. A stifled hush descended upon those assembled, greeting the confident stride of the gentleman in black robes. All of us who were sitting sprang instantly to our feet.

I was taken aback by the fact that even all those flashy lawyers- even that grubber shtick with his slick hair- immediately showed deference to a higher authority. We remained standing until the judge said matter of factly: “good morning – be seated.” Everyone sat down at once; you could hear a pin drop. There was a thickness of seriousness in the air- as you could vividly detect that even the “chashuvim” in the courtroom seemed to move only after thinking about it first. (I can’t imagine who was Mechanich that fellow next to me!)

The judge then proceeded to call out the first defendant. Everything so formal and official- although I wondered- what’s really going through this judges head- what would he really like to say to some people here. What color is his shirt really- under his black robes?

The procedures were routine- When your name would be called out, you were to stand up and say- “here your honor.” At that time, after one calls out “here your honor,” one’s lawyer interjects and proceeds to undertake and underscore his defendants position and do his job. Of course the judge is referred to in third person. “Yes your honor.” Or, “does the judge object.”

My lawyer did an outstanding job in proclaiming my plea of: “not guilty,” amongst the other things that needed to be represented on my behalf.

In any case, as I sat there I couldn’t help but be introspective- though my thoughts were interrupted as one guy with two earrings in one ear (a bit lopsided if you were to ask me!) told the judge that his lawyer was not yet present- and the judge responded- “so noted for the record!”

These were my thoughts-

We all sit together in Shul on Rosh Hashonah. We know the cardinal reality since time of yonder that we are being judged. We know our judge has no thoughts- yet knows ours, and wears no robes; only Purity and Kedusha.

B”H I’m of a K’hilla that shows deference to a higher authority and my fellow congregants are Mechunich to recognize before whom they stand while in Shul. They act accordingly. So except for the surprise that Goyim can show respect in a courtroom, my “tzusthel” between a mundane American courtroom, to a Shul filled with Kedusha on Rosh Hashonah, was really unrelated.

But then I surprised myself with a deeper, more eerie thought.

We all feel comfortable in Shul! After all, no one is sending out a warrant for our arrest if we don’t show. No pressure really. We all sit together, quite comfortably, throughout the year, and even on the Yom Hadin we tend to be quite relaxed. If we might think for a moment about the significance of our imminent judgment by the King of all Kings, we comfort ourselves as we look around and think: “We’re all in this together. Everyone here in Shul is being judged.” It’s a comforting thought.

But do we know- can we know- who amongst us finely attired- we defendants in Yom Tov’s bright white Shul might be sitting in a separate box already- wearing a jail uniform and shackled in handcuffs. Do we know- can we know- who might not yet have a lawyer- who might not yet have a defender there on time to help and protect him, and help to fend for him. Might the Great Judge of all Judges respond and Chas V’Sholom record “so noted for the record that you have no lawyer that you have no defense??”

It was a scary thought- even more scary then being amongst those Araylim.

Yet it was an uplifting experience. As in retrospect I realized:

Hashem gifts us with the opportunity to arrive at Rosh Hashonah after growing closer to Him through an entire Elul. We embrace Tikias Shofer confident that our striving for perfection during these days will be rewarded by the Judge of all Judges, and we will emerge Zakay, and be inscribed for another healthy happy year.

Nofluh Nuh B’yad Hashem- Ke Rabbim Rachamov.

Dear friend, take advantage of this great gift we, the Am Hanivchar are so blessed with: A Father in heaven that loves us and only wants to judge us favorably with great mercy. And it is HE who judges.

Just “nem un” the thought- give effort to be prepared- with your lawyer- your defender- Tshuva, Teffila, Massim Tovim- so that we will all be Zoche to sit as one in Shul- V’Yaosu Chulom Agudah Achas. and truly be able to look around and be able to think and comfort ourselves- that yes- I’ve strived- We’ve all strived- for perfection- Lasos Retzoncha B’Laivov Sholaim- and will continue to do so- so that we can look around and be comfortable with the knowledge that none of us are shackled- and that we will all be inscribed for a healthy and happy new year.

Ksiva Vchasima Tova.

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10 COMMENTS

  1. Remember, we are truly defenseless based on our actions. The least we can do is show deference to the judge who decides our fates. Not feeling afraid or just going through the motions of yom hadin without realizing the severity of our situation and the power of the holy one who sits in judgment of individuals, family’s, nations, and economies is the biggest chutzpah of all. If we accept that we are being judged and then beg for mercy we then have a right to rely on his rachamim and be confident that he will do for us a Ness.

  2. I am wondering I’d this “story” actually took place or is the author’s way of making Rosh hashana “real”. Either way I am disturbed at the lack of middos he displays towards other people I’m society. This is not our way. Our way is one of Anivus. Of always finding a zechus for the other person, something I did not see here. Since I am posting aboit being melamed zechus I will try to be melamed zchus myself on the author and hope that perhaps he did not realize what he was portraying. As frum Jews we need to remember that the whole world is watching us and like it or not, they expect us to be better. Ksiva vachasima tova

  3. You forgot one thing. That judge that your talking about that judge that will decide our future …..HE IS OUR FATHER and a father will not rule against his own children without turning over every chance of a favorable outcome
    Amen v’amen

  4. You forgot one thing. That judge that your talking about that judge that will decide our future …..HE IS OUR FATHER and a father will not rule against his own children without turning over every chance of a favorable outcome regardless if you brought along your lawyer or not, he will act as your lawyer
    Amen v’amen

  5. … to me you sounded smug and I am willing to bet that you had your nose in the air the whole time. Not a fan of your not so subtle demeaning comments… “gringos”… “suprised that goyim can show respect in a courtroom”

    for someone who is trying to attain “perfection” I must say that you aren’t doing a good job

  6. What a bigoted article. You wallow in your own self-pity, claiming victimization by a jew-bashing press, then proceed to spout racist comments about non-jews. I don’t know what you’re accused of, but it’s clear you’re guilty of being a bigot.

Comments are closed.