jillian vs. the city of los angeles

I went to traffic court this morning!

See, about four months ago, I pulled a U-Turn in the middle of Lincoln, a high traffic six-lane street. It was turtle racing night at Brennan’s and I was trying to get to a parking space – and I didn’t know U-Turns were illegal.

Cops issued me a ticket, and then I forgot about it. Until I got the notice that I had missed my court date and therefore owed approximately $643.

Cue panic.

So I rescheduled my court date, and then spent entirely too much time dealing with Bureaucracy. Like an hour on hold with the L.A. Municipal Court, trying to figure out how to get my license unsuspended during the months I was waiting for court. And spending an hour going up to the court offices to get the paperwork, only to be told I needed a printout of my driving record from the DMV. And then spending a half-hour at the DMV getting that done. And THEN going back to the court offices, again, to finally get the paperwork.

Today, I showed up at 8:30, and learned that “swift justice” can actually apply once the process starts. At first, I was worried I’d be there all day. Especially when the sheriff’s officer presiding over the court, who was calling names to put us in random order, took half an hour to check everyone in. Then he put on a tape that reviewed our rights. Yes, a tape. In the sort of 1980-issue tape player we had in my Grade Two classrooms. Then he started explaining how court worked.

Then he informed us that the regular judge was out and the pro tem judge hadn’t shown up yet.

Fortunately, the end of all this bureaucratic clarification coincided with the judge coming in, and the process began. And almost every case was dealt with and arraigned in less than sixty seconds. I got out of court at 10am, paid my fine ($222, with fees on top of the original ticket – or the cost plane ticket I almost bought for home this weekend and didn’t) and skipped out to my car, finally free of the shackles of Los Angeles municipal court.

It was an interesting complete waste of a morning though. I’ve never been in a municipal court before. And now I know – turtle racing night gets expensive. Even if you don’t bet on the critters.

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