Extra comment could land man in jail

Funkenpants wrote:

I'm not sure I'm understanding what you're saying here, but there's a difference between judging the merits of the case (in effect, whether one side adequately proves its claim) and making sure that the proceedings are conducted to a standard of behavior.

Nope. The second there are legal statutes - such as the existence of a penalty - involved, enforcing the standard of behaviour becomes a second, short-lived case. And inevitably, the judge hearing that case is biased, since it was him who saw reason to open it in the first place. Again, I understand the necessity of this in the courtroom situation, but I don't see how the same pragmatism touches a comment, not even a plea, written on a cheque.

NemesisZero wrote:

. . . enforcing the standard of behaviour becomes a second, short-lived case.

Hmm, contempt usually comes through an order issued by the court within the case. Where are you getting this second case stuff?

NemesisZero wrote:

but I don't see how the same pragmatism touches a comment, not even a plea, written on a cheque.

Because the obscenity-marked check was a submission to the court in connection with the case, and courts usually demand a certain level of decorum from litigants during the judicial process, including on paperwork submitted as part of the case, whether the litigants participate voluntarily or not.

The interesting thing about this and other such cases is that there seems to be no legal standard for contempt other than 'the judge got mad at you'. Wearing a pro-choice button in their courtroom? Contempt! Woman wearing pants in their courtroom? Contempt! Unpopular defendant in front of a judge up for re-election? Contempt! Rather scary when you think about the potential for abuse of power.

KillerTomato wrote:

Rather scary when you think about the potential for abuse of power.

Contempt!

Funkenpants wrote:
NemesisZero wrote:

. . . enforcing the standard of behaviour becomes a second, short-lived case.

Hmm, contempt usually comes through an order issued by the court within the case. Where are you getting this second case stuff?

Admittedly, it's based on my knowledge of the formal proceedings of the German legal system. An order is the standard form of legal communication within public law (where there's one 'superior' party), a contract is the standard form of legal communication in civil law (where both parties are peers). Seeing how the term of contract is virtually synonymous in German and Anglo-Saxon justice, I assumed the same for the concept of the order.
In any case, it's the judge's task to verify either's acceptability if it is called in question, a situation almost guaranteed in the heated atmosphere that produces a contempt order. See the conflict of interest yet?

Funkenpants wrote:

Because the obscenity-marked check was a submission to the court in connection with the case, and courts usually demand a certain level of decorum from litigants during the judicial process, including on paperwork submitted as part of the case, whether the litigants participate voluntarily or not.

Which brings us back to square one. Again, you point out that this is the way it is, and period. I can go on asking whether that's actually such a good thing, but three or five or ten posts from now, we'll be back here.

The father of one of my best friends (back in Michigan) was a state trooper for 30+ years, and has since retired. At some point a survey was done to figure out under what circumstances troopers were letting people off of tickets or writing the tickets for less.

While politeness, respectfulness and all that were way up on the list, the number one reason?

Women who started crying.

Same thing happened to me when I used to have to card people at the convenience store that I worked at on campus. Most guys with fake IDs just start getting belligerent and in your face. If they don't leave I'd threaten to call the cops on them, and about 1 in 10 times I did call the police. Women start crying and I would hand back the ID and tell them, "it's okay, just go."

NemesisZero wrote:

See the conflict of interest yet?

The judge has no interest to conflict in that situation. He doesn't see any personal gain. And should the judge exceed his authority the order can be vacated. There's also usually a procedure for the judge to make a formal reconsideration of the order after the heat of the moment.

Funkenpants wrote:

I can go on asking whether that's actually such a good thing, but three or five or ten posts from now, we'll be back here.

Sure. Though since this sort of thing as been part of our judicial system for a few hundred years, if it was such a terrible thing for all concerned I think it would have been changed by now.

Funkenpants wrote:

The judge has no interest to conflict in that situation. He doesn't see any personal gain.

Not having an interest in different from not being able to see any personal gain. A judge with a "I'll teach that punk" attitude is just one example.

Funkenpants wrote:

There's also usually a procedure for the judge to make a formal reconsideration of the order after the heat of the moment.

If the judge has no interest in the matter, why would the ruling change afterwards? If he was truly neutral, then the moment never would have been heated from his perspective.

CannibalCrowley wrote:

Not having an interest in different from not being able to see any personal gain. A judge with a "I'll teach that punk" attitude is just one example.

The difference is, it's the judge's job to maintain decorum and respect in the judicial process. What you're suggesting is like stepping out onto the field while playing a game, committing a penalty the ref sees, then complaining that he's got a personal interest in giving you a penalty. It's his job to render those kinds of decisions, not a personal thing. And when punks do pop up in courthouses, part of the job of the judge is to stop their punkiness.

CannibalCrowley wrote:

If the judge has no interest in the matter, why would the ruling change afterwards?

Typically because the litigant changes his behavior, says he won't do it again and basically admits he was wrong. The judge usually wants a change in behavior, not to get his jollies by randomly distributing contempt orders. Or if a lawyer can demonstrate some legal reason why the judge is wrong. It all depends on the individual case.

Funkenpants wrote:

What you're suggesting is like stepping out onto the field while playing a game, committing a penalty the ref sees, then complaining that he's got a personal interest in giving you a penalty.

No, what I see is a couple of opposing players arguing with the ref about a call and the ref gives one of them an extra penalty because he cursed.

CannibalCrowley wrote:

No, what I see is a couple of opposing players arguing with the ref about a call and the ref gives one of them an extra penalty because he cursed.

Makes sense to me. If he doesn't penalize that guy, everyone is going to start cursing out the ref. If someone wants to have a tantrum, best to do it over on the sidelines.

Funkenpants wrote:

Makes sense to me. If he doesn't penalize that guy, everyone is going to start cursing out the ref. If someone wants to have a tantrum, best to do it over on the sidelines.

I didn't say that he cursed out the ref, just that he cursed.

Courtroom Example:
I took a poop = okay
I took a sh*t = contempt

CannibalCrowley wrote:

I didn't say that he cursed out the ref, just that he cursed.

So ref says, "offsides," and the player says, "bullsh*t" and that's not directed at the ref?

Funkenpants wrote:

Makes sense to me. If he doesn't penalize that guy, everyone is going to start cursing out the ref. If someone wants to have a tantrum, best to do it over on the sidelines.

Maybe I'm lost in this argument, but the "sidelines" is exactly where this transpired. You don't give a check to the judge. After your case is heard you pay a clerk. And from what I gather from the article, he hadn't even seen a judge but had mailed the check in.

Crowley and myself agreeing on a topic. I'm not sure whether to rejoice or be afraid.

NemesisZero wrote:

Crowley and myself agreeing on a topic. I'm not sure whether to rejoice or be afraid.

Welcome to the dark side.

LiquidMantis wrote:

After your case is heard you pay a clerk. And from what I gather from the article, he hadn't even seen a judge but had mailed the check in.

Why would it matter where he sees the judge? It's what's on the paper that is causing the problem. And the clerks are working in the courthouse. Probably what happened is that the clerk gets the check, takes it the judge working on the case, says, "Look what the defendant wrote to you." If he didn't want the judge to see it, he shouldn't have submitted it to the court.

While politeness, respectfulness and all that were way up on the list, the number one reason?
Women who started crying.

Yup. It frustrates me a bit, because I am always polite, respectful, and have everything ready when the cop approaches. You know what that does? It makes it easier for them to just write the ticket and get done with it faster. I've had 3 or 4 tickets, never been pulled over without getting one. A friend of mine has been pulled over more than a dozen times, in several regions of the country, and has only been ticketed once. She cried most times, but not always. In some cases the cop struck up a conversation with her. I've never had a conversation with a cop outside of the cooler ones who busted up my college parties.

Stupid gender bias. Woof. *my luck, I'd get a homophobic cop who would beat the sh*t out of me*

Funkenpants wrote:

Why would it matter where he sees the judge? It's what's on the paper that is causing the problem. And the clerks are working in the courthouse. Probably what happened is that the clerk gets the check, takes it the judge working on the case, says, "Look what the defendant wrote to you." If he didn't want the judge to see it, he shouldn't have submitted it to the court.

I was simply playing your analogy. He didn't get up in the ref's face, he bitched from the sidelines which you said is the best way to do it.

I've only been ticketed once out of the 2 dozen times I've been pulled over. Everytime I get pulled over I am respectful and polite. The trick I think that helps is I have all my paper work ready, lights are on inside the car, window open and most importantly my hands are visible through the steering wheel holding the dash. Cops like that, swampy said so.

LiquidMantis wrote:

He didn't get up in the ref's face, he bitched from the sidelines which you said is the best way to do it.

Sending in a written message to the ref telling him his call was bullsh*t isn't doing it on the sidelines.

Funkenpants wrote:

Sending in a written message to the ref telling him his call was bullsh*t isn't doing it on the sidelines.

Maybe not, but he sent the message to one of the ref's lackeys, not the ref.

Anyway, I suppose I'm in contempt because I think it's bullsh*t that they're wasting time and tax dollars over this. But then I've never understood trying to get respect by strongarming either.

Story update.

The Article wrote:

Rob Militzer was given a choice: apologize for scrawling profanity on a personal check he sent to the court to cover a parking ticket, or have a district judge pursue contempt of court charges.

Militzer carefully avoided a bold "I'm sorry" by saying he regretted that the court took offense at the words "bullsh*t money grab" on the memo portion of the $10 check and agreed to write a fresh check.

In exchange, Berkley District Judge William Sauer said Wednesday he would dismiss the order asking Militzer to explain why he shouldn't be held in contempt of court.

So, yeah, the "humility" thing.

LiquidMantis wrote:

Maybe not, but he sent the message to one of the ref's lackeys, not the ref.

No difference between "you're an a-hole" and "tell your boss I think he's an a-hole."

LiquidMantis wrote:

But then I've never understood trying to get respect by strongarming either.

Have you worked in a courthouse? Some people who come through the doors aren't responsive to leadership by example.

Judging a society after its worse members will get you a people worthy of that treatment. We're talking about a computer programmer with a parking offense and an attitude, not a crack-addicted pimp here.

NemesisZero wrote:

We're talking about a computer programmer with a parking offense and an attitude, not a crack-addicted pimp here.

Why do you assume a crack-addicted pimp is a problem in the courthouse? And it's odd that you'd start distinguishing between litigants based on their choice of occupation. It's the attitude that counts, not whether he's a pimp or a programmer. Poor or rich.

Grayjedi wrote:

I've only been ticketed once out of the 2 dozen times I've been pulled over. Everytime I get pulled over I am respectful and polite. The trick I think that helps is I have all my paper work ready, lights are on inside the car, window open and most importantly my hands are visible through the steering wheel holding the dash. Cops like that, swampy said so.

True that. Except when there's a gun in the car. (Only for road trips where there are long stretches of no civilization, it's not like I'm packing heat when I go to the grocery store.) Then I don't have anything ready, I just have my hands on the wheel, and tell the nice officer when he comes to the side of the car: "There is a loaded glock in the passenger seat. My purse is beside it. I'd very much like to get out of the car and let you get my purse for my license and registration, or the gun...which ever you want." I know better, especially in Texas, to reach in the general direction of a weapon if the cop might feel threatened. I am many things, but bullet proof isn't one of them. ;)

Re: Crying - I've never cried to get out of a ticket. Probably because I'm not one of those ladies who can "cry pretty". You know the ones that can cry, and never even smear their eyeliner? Not me. If I actually make it to the cry level, I'm all sobby and blotchy and damp. Not at all alluring, really. ;)

I have joked my way out of tickets. Once, I got stopped with a bunch of my friends kids in the back seat and told the cop I was trying to outrun the noise. He laughed and let me go. I have smoked my way out of tickets. Once, when traveling around the country with a band of jugglers (really!), in a big yellow van with a wench painted on one side, and a dragon juggling balls on the other, and filled with 7 stoners, 3 cats, 1 snake, and more pot than a cheech and chong movie, we got stopped in Mississippi, and when I rolled down the window, and this huge cloud of smoke hit the trooper, he looked at me, and looked at all the hippies in the back and said "Y'all aren't planning on being in Mississipi for very long, are ya?" When I said that we were on our way to Florida, he said "I'll tell you what. I'll escort you to the state line, cause I can't even imagine what we'd do with all of y'all if I ran you in."

I've pleaded, I've begged, I've cajoled "Now, you know you don't want the paperwork that comes from towing this monster away and arresting me...", and most of the times it works. I think the cops just like the show. They're bored, I'm entertaining.

That said; I have been arrested for speeding. (Apparently he *did* want all that paperwork...) Going 3x the speed limit is apparently "reckless" or some such nonsense. Society and it's silly rules. I swear. Just because it was a school zone. (I kid...I kid. We were drag racing on the interstate, way out in the country where there's no traffic. Nobody but the idiots racing were in any danger.)

But as much as I may be willing to play with the nice policemen, I know better than to be anything but courteous and informative when seeing the judge. Judges have almost no sense of humor.

Oddly, I've never been pulled over. Nor have I ever received a parking ticket. I'm not any more or less law abiding than average, I think. I do probably drive less than most people. Still, what are the odds of avoiding it for more than a dozen years?

ChrisGwinn wrote:

Oddly, I've never been pulled over. Nor have I ever received a parking ticket. I'm not any more or less law abiding than average, I think. I do probably drive less than most people. Still, what are the odds of avoiding it for more than a dozen years?

You realize you're going to get pulled over tomorrow after posting this, right?

Oh yeah, and Duckideva for president.

Jolly Bill wrote:

Oh yeah, and Duckideva for president.

Just the foot, though.