“I’m the Criminal”
I was in the middle of jury selection when a young man entered the courtroom. Since I had ordered all witnesses excluded during jury selection, I interrupted the proceedings, and asked, “Excuse me sir, are you a witness in this case?” He replied, “No, I’m the criminal.”
The defense attorney asked me to declare a mistrial and excuse the entire jury panel. I declined, since his own client was the one who may have prejudiced the jury.
The Dumb Honor Student
There is “book smarts,” and there is “street smarts.” I have known many people, including a few judges, who are brilliant, but who lack common sense.
I presided over the case of a young woman who was on a full academic scholarship to an ivy league college.
She came to Laguna Beach to party during spring break. She tried to get into a night club using a false driver’s license, because she under twenty-one.
The doorman/bouncer immediately saw that the ID was phony and confiscated it. The girl demanded that he return her false license. Of course, he refused. So, the honors student called 911 to complain.
When the police arrived, they listened to her complaints. They examined the driver’s license, and verified that was falsified. Then they placed her under arrest.
The DA filed a misdemeanor charge of possession of false ID of age by a minor, and she ended up in my court. If she pled guilty, or were found guilty, of the charge, the DMV would suspend her driver’s license for one year. She would also lose her scholarship.
Since she had skipped school and paid to fly back to Orange County for arraignment, I thought she had learned her lesson and had been punished enough. Since it was a minor crime, I agreed to dismiss her case upon proof of four AA meetings, which she could attend back East.
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