Municipal Court

Status
Not open for further replies.

JHZR2

Staff member
Joined
Dec 14, 2002
Messages
51,316
Location
New Jersey
I was in municipal court yesterday. I had never been in court of any kind like this (I had been in small claims to sue someone once). I was in to plead not guilty to a minor traffic ticket that had circumstances that were arguable. What I saw surprised me. The people in court was at least 75% women (Id have figured 50/50), and mostly hispanic (not the local demographic). Not indicative of the makeup of our small town. But the way the people dressed and acted was the most surprising. I came in a suit and tie. Most people were wearing either sweatpants or jogging suits. The judge said upfront to NOT put your hands in your pockets. A large number of the people going up had to be asked repeatedly by the judge to pull their hands from their pockets. The people were shifty, obscenities were used in regular conversation with the judge. A really unprofessional look all around by the visitors. The man brought in handcuffed in an orange suit looked better groomed than many of these folks. Quite an eye-opener. But the sweatpants in court really surprised me. Maybe municipal court is just a laughable entity and I am naive, but it sure seemed like the people coming in were very disrespectful. What's your experience?
 
My experience was just the same. People were very disrespectful of the judge and he kept having to stop them. There was a spanish interpreter. Very pooly dressed people. Lots of peoples names called that had not come to court. Sad where our country is headed.
 
I was in a court in Atlanta to answer to a traffic ticket. The people who were there represented the local demographic (mostly black and white) and they seemed to be nervous, fearful, and/or depressed. I was there in a dress shirt and khakis, and saw other people dressed like me. Some had more casual attire. And I didn't sense any blatant disrespect to the judge.
 
Originally Posted By: spasm3
People like that don't respect themselves, therefore they respect no one else either.
I'm sure that's true of many of them. I think at least some of them just have a different idea of what respect means.
 
That's pretty common in municipal courts. There will almost always be a disproportionately high number of minority defendants. I've noticed that often it is hispanic defendants who know little to no English who are in the jump suits. I am guessing it is much harder or impossible for them to get bonded out. As for the dress code of the rest of the defendants, it's a reflection of their additude, and they often pay for it during sentencing. Usually a few people are dressed up and make a point of being polite and respectful to the judge. They also tend to get better sentences relative to their charge. The others don't see the value in being polite and respectful. They would rather wear a bunch of baggy clothes they slept in to court so that everyone knows how hard they are and that they don't give a [censored]. Giving the judge a reason to throw out any sympathy is a stupid idea. FWIW, I'm not saying everyone should wear a suit and tie, but even a homeless person can tuck in their shirt. The judge doesn't expect you to wear Armani, they just don't want a bunch of people who look like gang bangers in their courtroom.
 
Originally Posted By: JHZR2
I was in municipal court yesterday. I had never been in court of any kind like this (I had been in small claims to sue someone once). I was in to plead not guilty to a minor traffic ticket that had circumstances that were arguable. What I saw surprised me. The people in court was at least 75% women (Id have figured 50/50), and mostly hispanic (not the local demographic). Not indicative of the makeup of our small town. But the way the people dressed and acted was the most surprising. I came in a suit and tie. Most people were wearing either sweatpants or jogging suits. The judge said upfront to NOT put your hands in your pockets. A large number of the people going up had to be asked repeatedly by the judge to pull their hands from their pockets. The people were shifty, obscenities were used in regular conversation with the judge. A really unprofessional look all around by the visitors. The man brought in handcuffed in an orange suit looked better groomed than many of these folks. Quite an eye-opener. But the sweatpants in court really surprised me. Maybe municipal court is just a laughable entity and I am naive, but it sure seemed like the people coming in were very disrespectful. What's your experience?
O yes. My girl friend (ex) years ago was getting a criminal law degree, and she would drag me to court all the time. She liked going to traffic court over criminal because no matter what court room you choose, your going to see at least 5 people flip out at the judge and at least 1 that needs to be carried out by the police. I swear, if they allowed it, we really would have brought pop corn and sodas!
 
Originally Posted By: 01rangerxl
That's pretty common in municipal courts. There will almost always be a disproportionately high number of minority defendants. I've noticed that often it is hispanic defendants who know little to no English who are in the jump suits. I am guessing it is much harder or impossible for them to get bonded out.
That, plus the fact that the ranks of the poor (who are vastly more likely to commit crimes) are mostly populated by minorities.
Originally Posted By: 01rangerxl
As for the dress code of the rest of the defendants, it's a reflection of their additude, and they often pay for it during sentencing. Usually a few people are dressed up and make a point of being polite and respectful to the judge. They also tend to get better sentences relative to their charge. The others don't see the value in being polite and respectful. They would rather wear a bunch of baggy clothes they slept in to court so that everyone knows how hard they are and that they don't give a [censored]. Giving the judge a reason to throw out any sympathy is a stupid idea. FWIW, I'm not saying everyone should wear a suit and tie, but even a homeless person can tuck in their shirt. The judge doesn't expect you to wear Armani, they just don't want a bunch of people who look like gang bangers in their courtroom.
Well said. I think a lot of them just never learned that respect gets them anywhere, especially when it comes to the kind of respect that a judge expects. When it comes to poor folks who fall into crime, that wouldn't surprise me given their circumstances. Look up Lisa Delpit's idea of "codes of power." It's a great way to make sense of phenomena like this.
 
I've only had jury duty once (knock on wood) but people were generally well-dressed. There were a few people that looked like they had rolled out of bed. I watched a trial once and everyone was well-dressed. But the demographic in central Vermont is different than New Jersey, I suspect.
 
Yep,lots of people have no sense of self preservation.I have only been in traffic court once ,that was detailed in a thread(a good tax commissioner is the title) here. I have been called for jury duty several times,but I never get picked as I am a correctional officer.I observed that the criminal and civil court attendants were better dressed than the traffic court people.Half of the people in traffic court looked like I would be seeing them in the count line at work. One of the times I was at court I observed a young black guy who was suing an insurance company in a traffic claim.I knew his mom and I thought his chance at a good settlement was poor.Part because the county I'm in has a rep as giving small settlements.Part because he was dressed in gangster style,had plaits in his hair and was slouching.Basically looked shifty.Not a way to impress a judge or jury.Esp in our area where juries usually have a high proportion of little old ladies. Perception has an impact on reality.My 2 cents.
 
Was shooting the breeze with the cashier at my new, PT job at a tire store. She remembered me as the sole interviewee (out of six or eight) who wore a suit. I mostly remember getting stuck trying to go out the "in" door. LOL Around here, traffic court is in a regular courtroom on Mondays. "Better" stuff happens later in the week. I can imagine the judge and bailiff still hung over from the weekend. I fought a ticket in my same suit that landed me the job (and several funerals and weddings) and got the cop to drop the charges. Was for an inspection sticker, and I explained that the car was only on the road for three days, and the first appointment I could have gotten with my mechanic was still a couple days out at that time. "Winning" a traffic case here generally means getting a second chance with the police for them to take pity, and drop charges in the courtroom.
 
Well, you may not like the way they dress but, their experience (and I'm guessing that this wasn't their first time to the rodeo) was probably that they got the same treatment in a suit that they got in sweatpants. The judge had probably seen many of them before.
 
I had to go to small claims court on my former employer's behalf in South Dallas. The plaintiff showed up in a Mickey Mouse nightshirt, pink fuzzy slippers, and pink curlers in her hair. The defendants were all professionally attired. We lost. Judge [name omitted for my legal protection] wouldn't even let us testify to defend ourselves. She walks into court exactly how she had rolled out of bed 20 minutes earlier, perjures herself, and the "honorable" Judge says, and I quote, "I don't have time for this, give her her money back." I'll probably get sued by the former judge now for defamation of character. But it's the honest truth. Nightshirt and pink fuffy slippers = win in S.Dallas. On the flipside of that, I went to court in Grand Prairie to get a front license plate ticket dismissed. The judge was harsh with people that came in t-shirts, shorts, flat billed hat on and at a 45° angle. Seemed like he was just dispensing guilty verdicts and resetting court dates for a later date with a strong warning that the defendant come properly attired. I didn't wear a tie duh I know I'm going to eat this $250 ticket for wearing a collared shirt and khakis. Nope. Showed him the photo of my car with a front plate on it and, "Case dismissed. You may pay the $11 dismissal fee on your way out."
 
At my local court, where I went to answer for an unpaid parking ticket, the guy before me killed a very pregnant woman's unborn baby. He robbed her and kicked her in the stomach. She miscarried. It was a tear jerking affair. Needless to say, I was shocked. Not only by the criminal, but also by how tough and forceful the judge was. I had a "bad feeling" about my situation after this. However, I said I was guilty with explanation. "Lets hear it" was the response. So, I explained that I was putting myself through college, earning $4 per hour and I simply did not have the money to pay. I got out of there by paying the fine and late fees! And, off I went, happy for that day to be over...
 
Yes, the level of self esteem is quite low. I marvel at the fact that a lot of people can make the day. Of course despair is the driving force behind politics today. John--Las Vegas
 
I've been in traffic court more times that I like to admit, and I've never worn anything other than casual attire. Of course, I'm not going to go in resembling a homeless person or wearing cut offs and flip flops, but I don't see the need for anything formal. The baliffs in my district would likely refuse entry to anyone inapporpriately dressed. IMHO how you interact with the judge is most important. Don't evade question asked and wait until instructed to tell your side of the story.
 
The general public is lucky I'm NOT a judge. Back about 10 years ago when I went to court to stop child support on my son, who was 18, out of school and working, my ex came to court wearing shorts. She left straight for work.....but...she knew the court date was coming. The court clerk came out and told us that the judge will not see us because my ex had on shorts....so I told the clerk to please see that the judge would because I had to take off work and drive some 80 miles to court. Anyway, she came out, said that the judge would see us first and when she walked in....he stopped her at the door and told her to stand behind the railing. Then he reprimanded her for knowing she had a court date and not going home to change. He flat told her.."Shorts are not acceptable in my court!" I would be the same way if I were a judge. No way I would allow what you saw in that court room.
 
First it's the uneducated illegal staff at the hotel and now it's the hispanics in sweatpants at the courthouse, when can we expect to see the next negative post about illegals duh Uploaded with ImageShack.us
 
Last edited:
Over here depends on which county you are in, you see all sorts of different people: Middle class / near up scale neighborhood: lots of drunk drivings, red light or stop sign violations, truckers going through non truck route as a short cuts, etc. Typical residents unfortunate enough to be caught due to budget shortfall. One county (Fremont) do not even give out court date anymore because of over crowding. Most people think they can get a court trial and get a reduced fine or tickets thrown out. You can pay your fine, go to traffic school and pay your fine, or sit in line at 4am to be the first 40 out of 200 to be lucky enough to get a court time. IMO this practice is "unconstitutional" (although I think this term is overused these days). Low income / high crime neighborhood: mostly uninsured drivers who are minority, many couldn't speak English.
 
Last edited:
Originally Posted By: Malo83
First it's the uneducated illegal staff at the hotel and now it's the hispanics in sweatpants at the courthouse, when can we expect to see the next negative post about illegals duh ]
And what exactly is so bad about a description of my day in court? I saw what I saw, apparently many others see similar things. If I had just said it was 75% women, and they were wearing sweatpants and jogging suits, would you be happy? What would your next gripe be? I can't help it if the demographic of the court attendees does not match that of town. It is a valid observation. Sorry it is the case. Do I need a picture to validate, or would you then gripe because you can't handle that I'm stating a true observation. Nowhere did I imply anything about the criminal nature of these people. You seem to love to read into the post far more than what was a simple observation. So no need for you to bring other threads into this one. Even if you love the concept of people blantantly doing illegal things here. Would you have approved of the judge walking into court and saying "you're all OK, go on your way" when she walked in?
 
Status
Not open for further replies.
Top