Thursday, February 25, 2010, 07:12 PM
Posted by Administrator
Another day here in my cabin in Northern Wyoming. This morning, I walked over to Canada and gave a moose a hug. And, as I hugged the moose, I thought to myself "I'm going to put off my piece about Hindu marriage until next week so that I can say a few things about the other judge who hated me."

Just to be clear, there have been, over the years, judges who didn't hate me. One, Mike Miller, would stop court every time I walked into his courtroom and announce "Mr. Smith, I can't see anything because of the glare coming off your head." or "Mr. Smith, have you lost even more hair since the last time I saw you?" If this wasn't an expression of love, I don't know what is. And, after messing with me, Miller couldn't very well hurt my clients. And, he didn't. But, I digress.

Before Judge Miller, there was another judge who I dealt with a lot named Don Adams. Don did not think much of insurance companies and, as I believe I have written before, he didn't believe much in giving people points on their driver licenses just because they got a ticket.


Back in the day, there was a town called South Bay. Drivers coming from the West Coast of Florida had to drive through it on their way to Miami and the South Bay Police gave pretty much every one of them a ticket. No doubt South Bay made a lot of money from the tickets but, on the other hand, these drivers wouldn't slow down. The ticketed drivers would plead "not guilty" and get a court date and drive 80 miles to the Belle Glade courthouse figuring that the judge there would certainly agree that South Bay was a speed trap and that they had been unfairly ticketed.

Here is what Judge Adams would tell them "I always speed through South Bay and I never get a ticket." And, just so that you know that it wasn't only Adams that didn't get tickets: I sped in South Bay in those days every time I was there. I believed I was part of the Judge's test. ...And I never got a ticket either.

One day a Miami man came to court with a lot of South Bay tickets and a bad driving record and in danger of having his license suspended. At around the same time, a girl named Betty...she was a small African-American girl of around 12 or 13 began who began hanging around the county building. I don't remember why she was hanging around...school project? Someone she knew someone who worked there? I don't remember.

Anyway, Betty had a medical problem and needed a samll medical device that cost around $500...that her parents did not have. Someone brought this to Judge Adams attention at around the same time that the problematic Miami man stepped up to the courtroom microphone. And, here was the deal the Judge gave him: Pay for Betty's medical device and we'll drop the tickets. The man took the deal. Betty continued to hang around the courthouse.

One day, Betty told me that her father had been forcing her to have sex with him. I asked her if she wanted me to call the police. She did. She lived in South Bay.

And, while I thought the South Bay Police did a great job of giving out traffic tickets, I, nevertheless thought I should call the detectives in the Sheriff's Office about this one. (Not that South Bay PD wasn't equipped to make arrests...they did have a 55 gallon oil drum filled with cement with handcuffs chained to the top ready to help them hold onto their prisoners.)

Betty's father was arrested and he hired a lawyer named Brice Bream to defend him. One day, shortly after the arrest, Brice Bream..who I vaguely knew... called me on the phone...and, sounding very irate/condescending said...in sort of an annoying/lecturing voice, in more or less these words: "There must have been some other way of handling this instead of calling the police."

This surprised me because...though while at the time I was doing mostly criminal defense work...I still believed that sometimes you've got to call the cops. How did Brice Bream think I should have handled it? Asked the father not to have sex with his daughter and suggest counseling? Okay...but it wouldn't have worked. Tell the mother and have her fix it? The mother denied that anything was happening...mothers frequently choose the husband over the kid...they need the paycheck more than the daughter. (I am not suggesting that kids do not accuse. Of course, note that Brice Bream wasn't saying that his guy was innocent...just that I shouldn't have called the cops.)

I was a little surprised when, years later, Brice Bream became a judge. It seemed to me that Judges ought to think calling the cops is sometimes a good idea....for BAD crimes, at least..and incest with your daughter is a BAD crime. So, I thought, if you believe I shouldn't have called the cops, I've got to believe that you shouldn't be a judge.

In the years before I retired and moved North, I never appeared much before Judge Bream but the few times I did, he visibly stiffened when I walked into the courtroom. He was always civil to me but there was always tension in his voice and he never could seem to make eye contact with me. And the strangest things was that when he looked over at me, standing in front of the courtroom ready to speak, he would press his head...hard... back into the headrest of his Judge's chair. Within the confines of the chair, he was trying to get as far away from me as possible.

I don't think that he has forgotten what he said to me.......or, that in response, I pretty much told him that he was an idiot and an ass. But, I figure that 20 years later, he probably now agrees with me.

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