I was presiding over my heavy high-volume misdemeanor arraignment calendar, handling around 150 criminal cases each morning. (According to our computers, I deal with 25,000-30,000 cases each year. A few judges call me “Big Lots,” for “high volume, big discounts.”)
I called an assault and battery case. The man standing in front of me looked very muscular, very fit, and very big. He had a Pacific Islander sounding name. He said he wanted to enter a plea of “not guilty’ and get his own lawyer.
At his request I continued his case.
I wasn’t ready for his response when I asked him if he had any questions.
“I am a starting player on the University of Utah football team. We are currently ranked in the top ten. The coach is not happy that I am missing practice because of this case. Is it possible for my attorney to appear without me being present?”
(As background, I have a facetious streak. I also like to tease people. Some individuals, except my wife and kids, think I am funny. However, being facetious and teasing people is not necessarily a good thing for a criminal law judge. It sometimes gets me into trouble.)
I answered the young man: “Since it is a misdemeanor case, your attorney can appear without you. I am going to release you on your own recognizance (O.R), with one exception. . .”
“You need to be aware that I went to law school at BYU. So, on the weekend of your game with BYU, I am going to revoke your O.R. status and take you into custody.”
Everyone in the courtroom laughed — except the defendant. He had a very worried look on his face. He had apparently taken me seriously.
I quickly interjected, “I’m very sorry, sir. I was kidding.”
(P.S. The “U” beat the “Y” that year. Maybe I should have taken him into custody to give BYU a chance at winning.)
(For other articles go to: http://www.londonedition.net)