Rants & Essays
Bunch of Practical Jokers
If witnesses of crimes can have it tough in court, so can
the victims. Bre Stevens, a former law student, recently experienced how the
real-life justice system works.
It began in a line at a coffeehouse when she reached in her
tote bag for her wallet. It was gone.
Behind her was a well-dressed man standing too close. They
made eye contact, and he bolted for the door, jumped in a car and sped
A couple of days later police caught the thief, and Bre went
down to the station and identified him.
It turned out that he was more than a casual pickpocket. He
had been released from prison only a few weeks earlier and had a six-page
A few days later Bre skipped classes to testify at the court
hearing. To get there she had to go through a metal detector at the courthouse.
"My bag was full of books, stuff I use in class and my cellular phone."
The stocky female deputy sheriff who ran the metal detector
peered into the bag and told Bre that she couldn't go in with a telephone.
"So, I asked the deputy if I could leave it with her. She
"I told her I was the complainant in a case and had to get
to court. She said: 'That's your problem.'
"So I walked around until I found a policeman behind a desk
who said he'd hold my phone for me.
"I went back to the metal detector. But this time the deputy
said: 'You have food in your bag. You can't go in with food in your bag.'
"I told her it was only a candy bar and I wouldn't eat it in
"Then she said: 'Well, you got all those books. You can't go
to court with all those books.'
"I tried to explain that they were textbooks and I wasn't
going to read in court. I was the complainant, and if I wasn't there the crook
"That didn't matter to her. So I asked if she could at least
phone the state's attorney and tell him I might be late. She said: No, I
don't have to do that."
Once again Bre went to the policeman and he agreed to watch
her bag. Then she scurried back to the metal detector and said: "Okay, now I
don't have anything with me. Can I puleeze go to court?"
But as Bre stepped forward, the machine beeped. The deputy
gave her a hard stare.
"I told her that I had a metal rod in my leg because I had
an accident and had 22 breaks.
"But she said: 'Nope, you buzzed so you can't go
Bre pleaded with the deputy to use a hand-help detector to
establish that the beeping was caused by her leg, not by a concealed
"My wand is broken," the deputy said, "and the guy who's
getting me a new one is on his break now."
Bre told her that was ridiculous, as well as inefficient.
The deputy responded: "Listen, missy, don't be giving me an attitude."
"I told her: 'Frisk me.'
"But she wouldn't budge. She said I wasn't getting in if any
part of me beeped."
That's the way it ended. Bre left that day, not knowing what
would happen to her case.
Sometimes you wonder if judges and court bureaucrats are a
bunch of practical jokers.