‘That wasn’t me’

The classic defenses are always the best in Judge Thorne’s courtroom

By the Evening Times News Staff news@theeveningtimes.com

Even though it was a light day with only two men and two women in jail Judge Fred Thorne still warned his audience, “Be quiet. Give a person a chance to present his case. If you willfully disrupt this court, I will put you in jail.” A woman and a man were called up in jail. “You have drug offenses. Ma’am you had one that was dismissed and sir, you had two priors. Do you have the means to hire an attorney?” “Yes, sir,” they both replied. A man in jail was charged with loitering. He pled no contest. “There was an attempted burglary at 1:08 a.m. The police found you near the scene and you had on a hoddie and black pants.” “I told the police that me and my girl got into it.” “The report says the front door was damaged from someone kicking the door.” “That wasn’t me.” “Yes it was. $350 plus court costs.” A man in the courtroom was charged with following too close. He pled no contest. “Was there an accident?” “Yes, sir.” “How old are you?” “24.” “What are you doing with your life?” “Delivering pizza.”“That’s not good enough. Are you going to school?” “No.” “$55 plus court costs and go to driver’s school and I’ll dismiss it. Did they get their pizza free?” “No. Someone came and finished the delivery.” A woman was charged with a hot check from 2012 and no driver’s license. “How do you plead?” “Not guilty.” She started telling her story and Judge Thorne stopped her. Raise you hands everyone who knows how she should have pled.” Hands went up all over the room. “Have a seat ma’am, and we’ll come back to you when you figure out how to plead.” A man in the courtroom was charged with improper backing. He pled not guilty. “Come get a trial date.” The man had a surprised look on his face. “There are just some days nobody gets it,” said Judge Thorne. Another man in the courtroom was charged with driving on suspended and no insurance. He pled not guilty. “Come and get your trial date but I’ll tell you ahead of time, when you come back for trial you are going to jail.” A woman charged with loitering from before stood up. “I have a copy of the man’s license.” “No, I told you to bring ‘him’ in with you. That is not him. You could have made a copy of anyone’s license. $250 plus court costs.” A woman who was back in court for a review on a dope charge. “Are you working?” “Yes.” “For how long, three months?” “Since December.” “I almost got it right. Are you paying your fines?” “Yes.” “Are they paid off?” “Yes.” “Who paid them?” “My grandma.” “Were you with someone when you got this charge?” “Yes.” “Where are they now? They are not here. When is her probation up?” “She is through,” said the representative of the Justice Network. “Are you paying your grandmother back?” “No.” “That is sorry. Get out of here.” A man back in the court also for a review was asked, “How are you doing?” “He is doing good,” said the Justice Network representative. “Have you paid your fines?” “Yes, sir.” “Do you have a job?” “I’m looking for a job.” “I heard they are hiring in South Dakota.” A woman in for a review was asked, “Have you paid your fines?” “Yes.” “Where are you from?” “Out of town.” “I’ll dismiss this on the 28th if all is good. Do you have to come back to West Memphis?” The woman looked confused and said, “No.” A young woman was also in for a review. “I remember you. Not many people have pink hair. Are you going to school?” “Yes, alternative school. I need 10 more credits.” “Are you a momma?” “Yes.” “How old are you?” “19.” “How many children?” “One.” “It is not fair to your child that you don’t succeed for him. Give her one more review date.” “April 1st,” said the court clerk. “Do I have to come back to court?” “Yes you do. I want to see what color your hair is that time.” A woman in for review was asked, “Are you working?” “I am not working” “Who supports you?” “I am going to school.” “You are dressed. You have a coat on. Who is paying your bills?” “My boyfriend.” “Does he live with you?” “Yes.” “Do you have children?” “Yes. two.” “Is he employed?” “Yes, one month.” “Come back for another review on the 29th.” The lady who had to sit down and wait was called again. “Hoe do you pled to no driver’s license?” “No contest.” “How do you pled to a hot check?” “Guilty.” “My driver’s license had expired on 1/31.” “The ticket was on Feb. 10th. Did you get your license renewed?” “Yes.” “Did you pay off your $4 hot check? I didn’t know you could even write a check for $4.” “Yes, I did.” “What do you do for a living?” “I am a teacher in Germantown.” Judge Thorne asked a bondsman, “What do I tell teachers they have to do in a case like this?” “They have to go to school on Saturday,” he answered. “You have to go to school and tell your students that you have to go to school on Saturday. Do you go to church?” “Yes, I do.” “Well heathens go to driver’s school on Wednesday but church going people usually go to driver’s school on Saturday. I’ll dismiss the hot check because it has been paid and you will go to driver’s school for your expired driver’s license.” A woman in for a review was asked by Judge Thorne, “Did I tell you I would dismiss this if you completed your fines?” “Yes.” “Then why do you come into my courtroom smacking that gum? That is very disrespectful and seems stupid to me. Sit down, I don’t know what I’ll do. When is her probation up?” “Tomorrow.” “Has she paid her fines?” “No.” “When are you going to pay?” “I’m workin’ on it.” “I am going to give you until the 14th of March. If it is not paid off by then you are going to jail for five days.”

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