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Sunday, February 19, 2012

"Ask the Judge" Column continues in La Prensa of SA, 2-19

Ask the Judge: More comments in Court that make you say, “Huh?”
By Judge Steve Walker

As I shared last week in this column, I have heard my share of strange responses and stories in my court over the past three years. On a nearly daily basis defendants and plaintiffs never fail to amaze me with their antics and outbursts.

I believe part of the problem lies in the fact that in the “‘People’s Court” many of the plaintiffs and defendants represent themselves in Pct. 2. From the financial perspective it may save you attorney’s fees in the short run, but more times than not, you would be better served if you at least seek legal advice before entering the courtroom to avoid more costs than necessary.

While it is expected that all business done in a court is to be taken seriously, it doesn’t always play out that way. I hear numerous conversations and explanations of the cases in the courtroom that inexplicably turn so hysterically comical and ridiculous, it takes all your will power not to burst out laughing.

On numerous occasions in my court I must remind the people before my bench that if they act like “third graders” they could be cited for contempt and spend up to 72 hours incarcerated in the Bexar County Detention Center downtown.

Someone once asked me what the difference between third graders (which I taught years ago) and some of the people who come to court. I usually reply, “Third Graders are better behaved that many of the adults who come in front of my bench.”

Over the years I have seen numerous defendants who plead “not guilty,” admit in open court that they did commit the offense. When I ask them why they admitted to the offense after pleading “not guilty” many respond, “I am an honest person.” Huh?

Recently one defendant pled “not guilty” to speeding in a school zone but quickly admitted that they were speeding before they got to the school zone and not in the school zone. Huh? Speeding is speeding where ever you are caught going over the posted limit.

I remind many defendants in my court when speaking, “be careful what you admit to in open court, it will and can be used against you in court.”

Lastly, as always, if you are due in court, be sure to show up to court on time. It is in everyone’s best interest.

Justice of the Peace, Pct. 2 Steve Walker is a Vietnam Veteran and a former Journalist.

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