At some point during my time on the juvie team, I became the de facto spokesperson for the county whenever a parent is owed an apology. To illustrate:
Three Spanish-speaking mothers arrived promptly at 8:30 in the morning for their children’s court date. All three women had sons in custody, and for all three, this would be the first time seeing their sons after the arrest.
Through the combined efforts of no fewer than ten county employees, all three mothers would find themselves waiting until 1:30 in the afternoon to finally learn what would happen in their sons’ cases. Let’s start with our court reporter who works so hard on her Milf-Madness Cross-fit routine that she does not roll into court until 9:00. Why can’t she work as hard to keep her court schedule as tight as her ass? Meanwhile, the Sheriff’s deputy in the courtroom next door took it upon himself to request transportation for all of his department’s minors from juvenile hall at 8:00; this tied up the one and only holding cell that our two departments share even before these kids’ attorneys had a chance to talk to them. Why do I bother to make it a point to visit my in-custody clients in jail and show up early when I have court appearances? I just need a single-minded deputy working on my side! Thus, the attorneys in the department next door had to meet, greet, advise and assist their clients while in that holding cell, thus adding to the time that we, in the other department (yes, deputy, there is more than one department) had to wait until our minors could be brought over.
And has anyone seen the Spanish interpreter? The judge has a lunch to get to at 12:00, sharp! What do you mean the DA isn’t ready on the next case?! If he has the time to prepare such a lengthy and detailed excuse, wouldn’t it be easier just to prepare for the case? The judge isn’t the only one to whom you owe an apology, you know. And if you see the court reporter down at the coffee cart, can we get her back in the courtroom, please?
And so when the remaining cases are trailed to 1:30, why am I the only one who feels the need to explain to these three mothers that their sons’ cases just couldn’t be heard this morning? Was I tacitly “nominated” by a basic sense of decency? I’m sure the deputy next door feels the need to give an explanation. Oh, he knocked off for lunch already? What about the DA? He represents “The People,” right? Ah, he means “His People.” That leaves the judge: You’re not shy about expressing your annoyance in court, are ya, Judge? Oh right, you’re only responsible for making decisions, not for dealing with the fall out. As the courtroom empties for lunch, I find I’m the only one left besides the three mothers whose helpless pairs of eyes follow my every move. How do I find myself serving as the ombudsman for the county? I put my three years of high school Spanish classes to use and talk to them without the aid of an interpreter.
Now off I go to eat the sandwich I brought from home at my desk. Maybe I’ll be able to get enough office work done in the 45 minutes before I go back so that I don’t have to explain to my wife later why I’m so late…