All Potential Fathers, Please Stand Up

The counties in which I work may be small in population, but our courthouses are large in their history and stand rather regal in our rural towns.

courthouse 2We have over the last few years begun to designate certain days of the week for certain types of court hearings.  Monday, for instance, may be traffic day when all the traffic cases from parking tickets to DUIs are heard.  Tuesday may be the day that all the felony cases are before the judge.  Wednesday may be civil cases such as divorce or probate or small claims.  All the counties in my circuit have done or are perfecting this regulated system of scheduling court cases on certain days.

Of coucourtroom joke 1rse, we are a circuit in a rural area, therefore, we don’t have the volume of cases that a city or bigger town may have.  Everyone knows each other in most of the counties, and although things are run professionally, we are just friendlier with everyone from defendants to their lawyers.

That doesn’t mean we don’t have some high profile cases or some heinous cases or even some very busy days.  It does mean we have some downright hilarious incidences.

One such particular incident happened a few years back when we still had a variety of cases on the docket for that day.  There was a room full of people waiting their turn, watching the proceedings until their own cases were called.  courtroom audience

At the particular moment we were having a paternity hearing with the mother sitting at counsel table along with two putative fathers also sitting at the table.  The case had been before the Court on several other occasions since she had already named some men who had been dismissed from the proceedings for one reason or another.

She was a likeable gal, someone in the community the attorneys and the judge knew, a bit of a rounder perhaps.  She had several children but tried as best she could to take care of them. courtroom judge 2 Before beginning the hearing, the judge looked at her and ever so kindly said, “Ms. So-and-So, are there any other prospective fathers you want to name?” 

Ms. So-and-So turns around to the gallery and looks at all the men seated there.  She then says, “Yeah, maybe him,” and points to a gentleman sitting in the pew, waiting to have his case called.

courtroom surprised man

His surprised response — “I’m just here for a traffic case!”  — didn’t keep him from being asked to come up and sit at the counsel table to be a part of the putative father hearing.

His shock lingered throughout the hearing.

It was hilarious.court reporter laughing

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She Looked Real…

During my years as an official court reporter, I have seen and heard a lot of oddities.  One such oddity occurred as I was driving to Elizabethtown for work.   It was many years ago, but I can still remember it as though it happened yesterday.

driving down the highway

It was a sunny, summer day, and I was, believe it or not, running a tad late for work, so there was no dilly-dallying around to get on down the road.  Since I was totally focused on driving, it took me just a bit to realize the gal sitting in the car directly in front of me had not moved one inch.

When I finally started noticing my surroundings, what was going on in the car I had been following down Route 1, I began to notice that she was sitting up higher than the driver as though she were sitting on the console.  She was practically in the driver’s lap, she was sitting so closely.  And she was ramrod straight.  WOW!  What great posture that gal had.

This stiff-as-a-mannequin pose really caught my attention, and I began in earnest to see if she would at least move her head to look at the scenery.  But, no.  She didn’t even move with the pull of a curve.

Now, that’s odd.  I had never seen anyone sit that stiff and straight on the console of a car in my life.  She looked like a mannequin!

the mannequin girlfriend

But what in God’s green earth would somebody be doing with a mannequin sitting right beside them?  Maybe she was dead!  Oh, the thoughts that were swirling in my head!

I followed the driver and it all the way to the Karbers Ridge Road where the vehicle turned.  It was all I could do to say heck with work and follow the car.  Was the driver going to bury this thing sitting there?  Was it truly a mannequin as it appeared to be, this ramrod stiff, never-moved-a-muscle, gal-looking thing?

I will never know.  My sense of get-to-work-or-get-fired duty won out, and I kept going straight… with my neck craned backwards to see all I could see till they got out of sight.