Court Visit Essay

I attended a court session at Troy City Court, which is the 3rd Judicial District of NY State Courts. The public defender attorney present at court was Christopher T. Maier. I had the opportunity to go in ahead of everyone else and sit up in the jury stands where I was able to clearly see and hear everything that was going on once the court session began. I went to court on Tuesday, September 3rd, the day after Labor Day, which meant that court was closed the previous day. Due to the closure, there were an unusually high number of sixty-five cases this Tuesday morning. In the court room, there where several court officers placed at different locations around the court room. They were constantly reminding everyone to turn their cell phones off. This task seemed pretty difficult for some people to comprehend since they had to keep telling people multiple times to put their phones away. Before court started, there were so many people coming in and out of the offices on either side of the court room organizing and handing out papers to the attorneys; as well as and setting up files for the judge. Once court started, the cases were introduced by stating the name of the offenders and who they were going up against.

Some cases dealt with inmates that were brought in by the officers. The cases consisted of people of all ages, race, ethnicity and gender. The specific case that stood out the most to me was the case of a man who was charged with stalking a woman, but was also arrested over the weekend after being involved in a brawl. He was brought in with a man who, from what I could tell, was some sort of officer that was in charge of his case. While the judge was reading his offenses, the offender kept interrupting saying how everything was a lie and the woman who was accusing him of stalking wasn’t telling the truth. A couple months back a restraining order was placed on this man, yet he still didn’t obey it. He though, claimed that when he would see her around town and she would start yelling at him while he would simply try to walk away, but she would always keep going after him. The judge then said that no matter what she did, he needed to just get away from her as fast as possible even if it wasn’t his fault. The judge came to the decision to let him go, but to extend the order of protection as well. The judge came to this decision after consulting with the officer that was in charge of his case. The officer said that the offender didn’t give him any trouble and behaved while under his supervision, so he deserved to be let go under the order of protection. This offender was arrested in the first place because of his involvement in a fight over the weekend that ended in him suffering from multiple wounds and mild knife wounds. Since his wounds were fresh from the weekend he claimed that he wouldn’t be attending work until they were healed, so therefore, he needed an extension to pay the fine that he owed the court from his arrest. I left court right after his case was dismissed and he was released while I was walking down the stairwell so we actually ended up walking out together. There were two cases of DWI and public intoxication, one dealing with an underage male college student and the other dealing with an older male. The first case was a male around his 30s who was pulled over and was issued a DWI.

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His BAC was over .18% when he was pulled over and also was found to be drinking in his car. He requested a public defender. The other case was a college student charged with public intoxication, underage drinking and littering. He was caught walking around with a beer can in his hand and when finished he was spotted throwing the can on the sidewalk. The last case I found interesting was a case of domestic violence where the offender got into a fight which resulted in him endangering a child under the age of 17, breaking another individual’s cell phone, choking a female, and punching a 13 year old in the face. He was charged with harassment and then requested a public defender. He was brought into court with shackles around his hands, waist and feet. Previous to this fight, he had served three years in jail for other reasons unknown. He is facing fines that haven’t been paid since 2010, but the judge didn’t penalize him for how late they were due to serving time in jail. He was given an extension to pay his fines or he is to show up to court again and face more jail time.

There were some of the other cases of DWI, public intoxication, and domestic violence but I picked out the ones that were most interesting to watch and hear about in the court. I found that the majority of the offenders requested a public defender and then were required to go fill out an application which I assume asked about the individuals income and job situation. It was interesting to see how different people behaved before the judge. Some were very respectful and compliant, while others were rude and disrespectful. I defiantly learned quite a bit at this court visit, especially being able to see and hear all of the conversations that went on because I had the opportunity to sit so close to the judge.

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