12 April 2010

Bubonic Bob
& The a Smart Judge

Bubonic Bob was back in court a couple weeks ago. Bob earned his nickname from the fact that no matter what punishment a judge or prosecutor offers he has a condition which will preclude it. On the other hand, none of these conditions have yet stopped him from going into the local S-Mart and trying to leave without taking his items through that pesky checkout line. Most recently, his conditions also hadn't stopped him from writing a bunch of bad checks to about 7 local stores. I didn't see the original trial, but somebody gave Bob a break because his prior record should have gotten him at least 6 months. Instead he got 10 days in jail and 30 hours of community service. And therein was to be found the problem. It had been over a year and Bob hadn't done a single hour of his community service.

Probation officer testified that Bob had claimed that knee and back problems kept him from doing the usual trash pickup. Probation Officer had told Bob to bring in some sort of letter from the doctor proving his ailments. Bob put Probation Officer off for over 9 months - nary a medical record in sight - and finally Probation Officer decided to violate Bob. Since that time there'd been two continuance granted by the court so that Bob could get the paperwork and bring it to the court. Probation Officer wants either jail or at least that Bob be forced to do his community service.

Then Defense Counsel calls Bob. Bob has the magic ticket held triumphantly in his hands. He gives it to Defense Counsel who gives it to the judge. Prosecutor has to ask to see it. I couldn't see it, but from Prosecutor's reaction it was probably the same thing we see all the time from a doctor who writes something to get a patient to quit bothering him: a general letter which states there is some problem, but doesn't really state that it is serious or how the problem should limit the activities of the defendant.

Bob testifies that he can't do the physical labor of picking up trash because of his knee and back problems. On cross, Prosecutor points out that the letter doesn't say that. Bob counters that the letter says he shouldn't over-exert himself because of these problems and that the doctor told him that meant not being on his feet for over 20 minutes. Prosecutor asked why Bob hadn't brought the letter in when Probation Officer asked for it. Bob counters that he couldn't afford to pay the doctor for the letter - "No matter why you go to see Dr. Smith, it costs $750 just to get an appointment." Asked why he couldn't do community service where he could just answer phones Bob counters that his man-ear would only allow him to do that for an hour at a time. Asked why he agreed to community service Bob states that he didn't; he just agreed to do some jail and the judge stuck the community service on the order after he'd already gone to jail. Asked if he had any problems just doing jail time Bob states that the problem with that is that they won't let him have his pills for his "sugar", blood-pressure, and back pain _ "The last time I was in for a week and it took 3 months to things back to normal, cuz they wouldn't let me have my pills." Then the judge and Bob have a conversation about whether Bob smokes or not. Bob bobs and weaves a bit, but then claims he quit a year back because he's got "OCP" (I think he actually meant COPD - I've not met anyone who stopped because of river blindness). Watching Bob testify is watching a maestro in action. He may not be the most educated guy in the room, but he's mentally agile. There's an answer for everything and for everything there's an answer.

You can just see by the demeanor of Probation Officer and Prosecutor, they think that Bubonic Bob is going to skate yet again. Bob himself is looking rather smug. He's answered all the questions and his bastion of diseases is going to yet again serve him well. Then the judge weighed in.

"Mr. Bob, there's a tree in front of this courthouse. Probation Officer is at this courthouse on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. On each of these days of the week, you shall come to the courthouse and report to Probation Officer. Then you shall go down to that tree and sit and count cars. From 9 to 12 you shall count the cars which turn left from Broad Street onto 16th. From 1 to 4 you shall count the cars which turn right from 16th Street on to Broad. At the end of the day you will turn over the paper with the number of cars to Probation Officer. You will repeat this until you have completed all your community service hours."

Brilliant! I mean, I wouldn't want it for 99.999% of offenders, but it's something Bob will have a hard time getting out of medically and it will drive him nuts just sitting there all day (the tree is in the middle of a big lawn where nobody goes). Do I think he'll actually count cars? Nope. He'll make up numbers. However, I also think that he "misremembered" when he told the judge he quit smoking a year ago. Basically, the judge sentenced Bob to sit someplace where he can't talk to anyone but is in clear sight so that he can't smoke and prove that he lied to the court.

Maybe I'm just happy because I thought Bob was going to get away with it again. And, when I think about it rationally, Bob probably got off too light. Still, this is the coolest sentence I've seen in a while.


Anonymous said...

I LOVE it! Good for the Judge!

JB5 said...

Your judge must have been in the military before. This is the type of thing we make Soldiers do when they are given non-judicial punishment but just can't do any other work.

Something mind-numbingly dull, but takes their time since they cost everyone else their time.